Based on the dictionary, the definition of a role model is a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated. Why do we need role models? According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, “studies of aggressive learning in children show that through a process known as vicarious reinforcement, we start to model the behavior of individuals whose actions seem to be getting rewarded.”
The individuals that made this list are clearly not people you would want to emulate or have anyone you care about look up to as an example. It’s not the intention of this list to judge their actions, simply to cite them as an example of what is not role model material. Let’s face it, at times we all make poor choices but with these individuals it seems to be a habit. It’s disturbing these days to see the amount of people including children that look up to some of these figures that have continually demonstrated poor judgment and questionable ethics. Mention the word role model to someone and chances are they will cite a movie star or famous athlete.
Why don’t we look up to those that have really tried to make a difference in the world, people like philanthropists or scientists? What programs us to tend to admire certain individuals whose contributions are far less impactful than those whose actions may have impacted the very course of history? It’s an interesting question to ask ourselves. While considering the answer, let’s take a look at 15 of the worst role models. In an attempt not to be biased the list is varied and contains celebrities, sports figures, political figures, etc.
15. Abby Lee Miller
Abby Lee Miller, Director of Reign Dance Productions and the principal cast member of Lifetime’s Dance Moms earns a place on the list due to her methods of pushing her students almost over the edge with the excuse that it toughens them up for competition. She embarrasses her students and shames them, citing it as a motivational tool. When she isn’t doing that, she is screaming and hurling insults at them or their parents all in the name of preparing her students to compete. She almost encourages the parents to scream and argue with each other and their children as well. Obviously what makes good TV does not necessarily teach anyone about good sportsmanship and the right way to compete.
14. Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian is a sad example for anyone to look up to. After a sex tape surfaced and she was noticed hanging with her good friend, Paris Hilton, she was offered her own reality TV series. Before her TV series she never worked a day in her life, living off her trust fund and her more than generous booty. She has stripped for Playboy, been married for 72 days, is twice divorced and made comments that make people cringe in embarrassment for her. She is uneducated and not smart enough to know when to keep her mouth shut. She endorses anything and everything from cupcakes to clothing. Kim’s talents are definitely limited as proven by her one and only attempt at a singing career with a song called, “Jam” and her minor appearances in low budget films that make us realize all her talent is in her rounded bottom and nowhere else. She is definitely not someone you would want your daughters to look up to.
13. Miley Cyrus
Known for her role in Disney’s Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus has been the subject of controversy since age 15, when she posed for a photographer wearing only a bed sheet. Her singing career skyrocketed her to fame and in 2008 Time magazine named her one of the “Most Influential People”. According to Forbes, in 2008, she was earning 25 million. Unfortunately, it’s been downhill from there. She has appeared on stage wearing little left to the imagination, in a variety of odd costumes and she’s danced suggestively including pole and lap dancing, in front of young audiences. There’s more than just rumors of drug addiction, alcohol abuse and family issues. She has cancelled several tour dates disappointing fans and she’s had a variety of flings and one serious relationship that didn’t work out. She has admitted in interviews that she is a mess and has problems. She seems to be more intent on her career though than resolving the issues she has and until she gets herself back on track, she remains a candidate for this list.
12. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school. He had the designation of being the youngest player in NBA history in 1996 and he has played the entire length of his career for the Los Angeles Lakers. Unfortunately, this talented player is not without his problems. In 2003, he was accused of violating a 19 year old hotel worker, who later filed a civil suit against him and settled out of court. Bryant has argued and hurled an anti-gay slur at a referee on the court, and his many indiscretions causing the demise of his marriage in 2011.
11. Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez played his first major league game for the Seattle Mariners. He was 18 and his position was shortstop. He had an amazing talent and he became the youngest player to hit 500 career home runs. Unfortunately since 2009, this baseball star has had issues. His inability to remain faithful to his wife caused her to file for divorce in 2008. In 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his career from 2001-2003. His admission cast doubt on his records and in 2013 he was linked with Dr. Anthony Bosch, who reported that he had kept Rodriguez supplied with these types of drugs for years. Rodriguez denied it until proof was offered up in June of 2013. He then attempted to file lawsuits and to fight any disciplinary action brought against him by his current team, the New York Yankees. His inability to come clean and take responsibility for his actions wins him a place on the list.
10. Justin Bieber
This kid has problems. Wearing gas masks, flashing people on the red carpet and attacking the paparazzi are just some of them. Bieber seems to have an addiction to spitting and relieving himself in public. He’s been involved in a hit and run accident and assaulting a bodyguard. He abandoned his pet when the monkey was detained by German customs and never went back to pick the animal up. He’s into graffiti, brothels and egging his neighbor’s house. In 2014, Bieber was arrested and charged for driving while under the influence and resisting arrest. It seems this guy is hell-bent on continuing in his downward spiral of bad behavior.
9. Kanye West
Kanye West takes the award for the biggest sore loser. From the time at the American Music Awards in 2004, when he stormed out after not winning Best New Artist and told the Associated Press, “He was robbed,” he has set a bad example for losing graciously. His bad behavior is not kept only to awards shows, in 2005 he delivered a huge rant on live TV during a fundraising event for victims of Hurricane Katrina. He stated that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Even if he does win one award during a show it’s never enough. After winning for best Hip-Hop Artist in 2006 at the MTV European Music Awards show, he lost for best video. His response? He interrupted the winner’s speech with a lengthy and profane rant of anger. When all else fails and he doesn’t get an award he falls back on the “throw a tantrum” method of getting attention as he did at the Video Music Awards in 2007 when he was nominated five times but failed to win any trophies. Of course, if that still isn’t enough then he pulls out the “get physical” card as he did when he was arrested for damaging a photographer’s camera at the Los Angeles Airport. Looks like West needs to learn a little more about self-control, until then he belongs on the list.
8. Michael Vick
Michael Vick was the number one draft pick for the Atlanta Falcons becoming their full-time starter in 2002. Unfortunately, he had found the time to start an illegal dog-fighting operation in 2001. From 2001-2007 he, and several others, founded and ran the “Bad Newz Kennels,” hosting and participating in dog-fighting in several states. Vick even purchased a property in Surry County, VA for the good of the operation. Finally, in 2007 after a raid, Vick and others were charged with engaging in competitive dog fighting, purchasing and training pitbulls for the purpose of dogfighting and conducting their operations across state lines. He was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison. This doggy mess makes Vick an ideal candidate for the list.
7. Adam “Pacman” Jones
Adam “Pacman” Jones was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2005. Two weeks before he was scheduled to attend training camp he was arrested for assault charges although the charges were later dropped. In 2006, he was arrested again for possession of marijuana and after attacking a police officer, obstruction, unfortunately those charges were later dropped as well. In 2007 he was involved in a fight inside a gentlemen’s club in Las Vegas involving the shooting of three people. In 2007, he was involved in yet another shooting incident outside an Atlanta strip club and the list goes on.
6. Bill Clinton
As a rising political star, Bill Clinton, then Governor, was involved in a shady real estate development deal, partnering to form the Whitewater Development Corporation and using his position to manipulate financial terms and appointing his banking partner and friend economic development aide. The wrongdoing on the part of Clinton is much too complicated to summarize in just a few sentences but suffice to say he acted illegally as well as unethically. On January 20, 1993, Clinton was sworn in as President of the United States of America. As past behavior seems to be the best predictor of future behavior, it’s not surprising that scandal reared its ugly head again and again during Clinton’s terms in office.
Though there were many questionable campaign donations made to the Democratic National Committee and half of Clinton’s cabinet resigned in 1996, everything seemed to roll off Clinton, that is until 1997 when Clinton was sued for sexual harassment charges by Paula Jones. He had also groped Kathleen Willey as well during this time period, although she did not come forward with her allegations until later. Monica Lewinsky, a young intern at the White House was subpoenaed by lawyers in the Paula Jones case. Shortly thereafter the story broke of Lewinsky’s own affair with the President, which Clinton completely denied over and over again publically. He even perjured himself under oath and impeachment proceedings were in place when he finally admitted it was true and that he had been involved in sexual acts with Lewinsky.
5. Lindsay Lohan
Since 2006, Lindsay Lohan has been in and out of trouble. She has spent 86% of her adult life (from age 18 to now) on probation. She has spent time in and out of rehab and been arrested for drunk driving. She’s lost movie roles due to her inability to control herself and her excessive partying. She’s also been arrested for drug possession as well, not to mention obstruction of justice, resisting arrest and reckless driving. She has little regard for herself or others, missing a mandatory court hearing date which landed her back in custody in 2010. She’s been in and out of courtrooms and mostly in violation of her parole ever since then. Her attempts at reviving her movie career have failed miserably, with her movies either being scrapped or going directly to DVD. It’s a sad commentary for someone that used to have some talent. Doubtful she will become anyone’s idea of a role-model anytime soon, which earns her a spot on the list.
4. Charlie Sheen
Since 1990, after shooting his then wife Kelly Preston in the arm, Charlie Sheen has been in and out of rehabs, unfortunately none had any success helping him live with his drug and alcohol addictions. He’s been linked to porn stars, prostitutes, and madams, having reportedly spent over $53,000 for some of Heidi Fleiss’ ladies of the evening. He has assaulted ex-girlfriends and wives, threatening them further if they were to tell anyone. He’s had multiple restraining orders issued against him and he’s been married multiple times with children that he’s lost custody of to former wives and girlfriends. Sheen has bad-mouthed producers of his show, Two and Half Men and been late or not shown up many times during filming. He’s destroyed hotel rooms and shown no remorse for any of his actions and the list goes on and on.
3. Chris Brown
Since assaulting his then girlfriend Rihanna in 2009, Chris Brown has had more than his share of troubles. The incident resulted in assault charges which he plead guilty to and received five years’ probation and 180 days of community service. In 2011, he went crazy busting up furniture in his dressing room when during an interview he was asked about the assault charges. In 2012 Brown got into a fight with hip hop artist Drake, supposedly over Rihanna. This was followed by another fight with Frankie Ocean outside of a club in 2013. That same year he was accused of faking his community service by the District Attorney’s office. Brown faced another felony assault charge later in the year for allegedly beating a man up outside of a nightclub in Washington D.C. assisted by his bodyguard. His two week stint in anger management rehab apparently has not worked and he’s finally had to spend some actual time behind bars.
2. J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith has been plagued by trouble his entire NBA career. The New York Knicks guard just can’t seem to exercise good judgement. He’s been suspended for violating the NBA substance abuse policy and he’s brawled on the court, which resulted in getting him a 10 game suspension. Unfortunately on June 9th, 2007 he was involved in an auto accident that resulted in the fatality of one of his passengers. Smith ran a stop sign and collided with another vehicle. His friend, Andre Bell sustained head injuries and died two days later. According to USA Today, “Smith amassed 27 points against his license from April 22, 2005, to Jan. 10, 2006, with eight violations on seven dates. Five of the citations were for speeding.” Although his license was clear of any points at the time of the crash, it makes you wonder if speeding was not involved yet again. For that, Smith did a total of 24 days jail time and 500 hours of community service, oh and he was suspended for all of seven games. He then was involved in a fight outside a Denver nightclub, suspended for three more games. Still further down the road his discovery of social media got him into more trouble as some of his tweets caught attention due to gang-related formatting such as substituting a “K” for a “C.”
1. Aaron Hernandez
A troubled youth after his father’s death, Hernandez was drafted in 2010 by the New England Patriots. Although he had remarkable talent, there was concern even then and he wasn’t chosen until the fourth round due to his repeated use of marijuana and failed drug tests. Once on the team though, Hernandez became their star tight end teaming up with rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski to set an NFL record for most catches, touchdowns, and receiving yards by tight ends in one season. It seemed like Hernandez had the world at his feet with a $37.5 million dollar contract to play until 2018 and a lucrative endorsement deal with Puma shoes until June 26th, 2013 when this athlete was arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player. He is currently in jail awaiting the trial, now not only in a cell but wearing leg irons and chains as he beat a fellow prisoner in February of 2014. Is there anything left to say as to why this guy is number one on the list?