When referring to a checkered past, some of our most beloved athletes have tripped and fallen into the long arms of “Johnny Law.” A few of our country’s most infamous court cases were those of athletes and their seemingly reckless criminal behavior. Think of O.J., a white Ford, helicopters, and tiny gloves. Pick a convict, and you’ll likely read a story of lost talent, wealth, a yacht named after a girl named Molly, and then losing both Mollys. Sometimes, talent-ladened stars make a comeback, making a better life for themselves and their families. All the while giving back to their communities in a positive way. We’ve all seen such stories. However, results do vary after incarceration.
Today, a recognizable piece of society’s pie chart wanders the streets with a record. It’s not all that uncommon to have a smudge on your report. Yup, I’m betting that cute blond you work with has a blemish on hers somewhere too. These few gifted athletes though, certainly made it harder for themselves and their careers by committing the types of crimes they committed. They proceeded to break the collective hearts of their loyal fans too. A couple of these sports professionals did short stints in jail and eventually were freed. A few others are serving time and waiting to be released, while others never will be. The extent to which they broke the law varies. Have a look for yourself. You’ve got a little bit of everything on these fifteen rap sheets. You might end up saying, “Oh that’s what happened to that guy. Man, that sucks!” Or maybe you’ll wince in disdain at the very thought of their criminal neglect. Who knows? That’s up to you and your stomach.
15. Pete Rose – Tax Evasion (5 Months)
Undeniably one of the greatest players major league baseball has ever seen, Pete Rose got caught up in a spiderweb of his own deceit. The tangled webs we weave, huh? Rose spent some major league dough where he shouldn’t have. That’s A.K.A for gambling on the worst thing possible. He got caught wagering bets on his baseball team. When Rose was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, he was charged with tax evasion after rumors lead to proof of sports bets Rose had made during the baseball season. After denying his involvement altogether, he was eventually banned from baseball in 1989 indefinitely. Proving that using steroids is easier to get away with in professional baseball than placing a bet with a bookie!
14. Clifford Etienne – Attempted Murder, Armed Robbery
In 2005, professional boxer Clifford Etienne went on a dizzying crime spree after going nutty and attempting to murder a police officer. That’s not even the half of it. Kidnapping is on the list as well, with a bundle of other nasty allegations against a fighter who some boxing fans believe was one of the better fighters in boxing around the millennium. Ironically, Etienne will end his boxing career back where it began. Previously, when in the pin serving a forty-year sentence, Etienne took up the sport and later won the state prison boxing championship (yeah, that’s a thing). I don’t know many hard ass mo’ foes’ that would want to be on the other side of the ring from Etienne in a staring contest let alone a boxing match.
13. Darren Sharper – Sexual Misconduct (20 Years)
At one time, former NFL safety Darren Sharper was a respected name both on and off the NFL football field. He played great football for three NFL franchises (Packers, Vikings, Saints) becoming a five time Pro Bowl selection in his fourteen-year career. Sharper was regarded as one of the best players on any football field before he left the game due to nagging injuries. That was right up until 2016 when he was convicted of multiple sexual assault charges, inherently ruining any post-football plans he may have had. The allegations of combining alcohol and drugs to rape eventually led to the conviction that ruined his reputation in the sports community and landed him in prison for the foreseeable future… twenty years in fact. Not enough!
12. Eric Naposki – Murder (Life Without Parole)
Eric Naposki isn’t the most identifiable offender on the list, but he and his then girlfriend, Nanette Packard, are just as guilty as the rest of them. Naposki didn’t have as celebrated of a football career as he had dreamed. However, he did probably think that he had received a gift much more important, up until 2009… his freedom. Eric Naposki and his cheating accomplice, Nanette Packard, formed a plan to murder Nanette’s uber rich boyfriend in the early 1990s and to somehow gain access to his life insurance policy. That takes a special kind of stupid, doesn’t it? Years later in 2009, the crime would come back to bite them in the ass when both were sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
11. Plaxico Burress – Criminal Possession Of A Weapon (2 Years)
I think it’s pretty safe to assume the former Michigan State product, and pretty damn good on any given Sunday, ex-Steeler, Jet, and Super Bowl winning Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress is probably the only person on here today that shot himself then went to jail for it. If that’s not the definition of screwing yourself over, I’m not sure what is! The wizardry of Plaxico combined with failed New York gun policy earned the once talented receiver a trip to jail for two years; it tattooed ol’ Plaxico as damaged goods from there on out. He later would attempt a comeback after being released from prison but would never get back to the player we saw at times before this incident.
10. Lenny Dykstra – Grand Theft Auto, Falsifying Financial Statements (3 Years)
It doesn’t look as if there’s much for Lenny Dykstra to add to his rap sheet at this point in life. That would be difficult considering he’s managed to accumulate quite a spotty record. With a history that reads much like a con man and even worse criminal, Dykstra seems to have gotten caught doing almost everything he’s ever done illegally. Lenny served a three-year sentence in the end for his wrongdoing. An inevitable outcome for the once brazen baseball star who chose to break the law back in the day. If you care to read about his tantalizing story, naturally he has a book called House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge. Let me know if it’s worth a read!
9. Mel Hall – Rape (45 Years)
On June 17th, 2009, after being unanimously convicted by a jury of his own peers, professional baseball player, Mel Hall was sentenced to forty-five years in prison without the chance of parole; not until twenty-two years have been served, at least. After playing a successful thirteen years in major league baseball, including four different teams and a few years playing in Japan, Mel Hall was arrested in Lewisville, Texas in 2007. He was then charged with two counts of sexual assault. He was later convicted and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child. Stemming from his well-known community efforts geared towards the youth through mentoring. Hall was convicted of acts deemed unforgivable after taking advantage of young people within the programs he promoted himself.
8. Mark Rogowski – Rape, Murder (31 Years)
The famed California skateboarder Mark Rogowski, also known as the “Gator,” turned himself in after his friend Jessica Bergsten turned up dead in his ex-girlfriend’s San Diego home. Rogowski was later convicted of the rape and murder of Jessica Bergsten, a friend of Mark’s at the time. Rogowski reportedly had an argument with his on-the-outs girlfriend, Brandi Mclain, over her new boyfriend. He’d made several attempts to force the issue, voicing to both parties his displeasure with their relationship. Rogowski, in retaliation, ended up killing an innocent girl in cold blood after beating and raping her in Brandi McClain’s home. Reportedly, it was an act of vengeance against his ex-sweet heart Mclain, and the dispute he was having with her over their break-up.
7. Jeremy Mayfield – Felony Larceny, Possession (14 Years)
Race car driver Jeremy Mayfield was once a bright spot on the famed NASCAR racing circuit. That was before he began to battle a life fuelled by drug addiction and criminal misconduct. On May 9th, 2009, Jeremy Mayfield was suspended by NASCAR as both an owner and driver, after he failed yet another random drug test. NASCAR had given Mayfield plenty of chances before they decided to ban the driver from the racing series permanently. That was the beginning of the end for Jeremy Mayfield. He would later be charged with possession of methamphetamine, as well as stolen merchandise from various race teams… putting Mayfield face-to-face with a new cellmate for the foreseeable future. All his charges were eventually dropped on a plea deal in 2014. Lucky guy!
6. Rae Carruth – Conspiracy To Murder (18-24 Years)
Rae Carruth, an ex-Carolina Panthers wide receiver, may have been part of undoubtedly the most egregious crime on the list. In 1999, Carruth formed a plot against his then girlfriend, Cherica Adams. His plan was to murder her and his unborn baby with the help of his accomplices. In a sickly tale of love gone dreadfully wrong, Rae Carruth attempted to have his lover and unborn child murdered only to see his child live in a twist of fate. There is a God! Cherica Adams would later die an untimely death from the fatal injuries she sustained. Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to murder a woman pregnant with his child. Thankfully, their child who lived through the ordeal found a home and was sent to be raised by family members.
5. Bernard Hopkins – Robbery (18 Years)
Before becoming one of the best pound for pound boxers that have ever laced up gloves, Bernard Hopkins, in his younger years, spent a lengthy amount of time behind bars. His rap sheet wasn’t close to spotless at the time of his sentencing. Rather long his crimes included robbery amongst his eight other felonies. At just seventeen years old, Bernard Hopkins was charged and sentenced to eighteen years in the clink for his crimes against society. He was later released after paying his debt and serving his time. Bernard Hopkins returned to life after eighteen years with a new found faith in God. He would also start pursuing his love for boxing. All’s well that ends well, I suppose? I doubt Bernard would agree… not after nearly two decades in the slammer!
4. Aaron Hernandez – First Degree Murder (Life)
Aaron Hernandez was arguably one of the best players to come out of the 2010 NFL Draft. The University of Florida football player also turned into one of the biggest criminals the sports world had seen in 2013. All to the dismay of the New England Patriots and the sweet, new multi-million dollar contract they had given Hernandez for being a prolific tight-end in the league. There was no doubting Hernandez’s talent on the field. It was off the field that put the proverbial nail in his coffin. In 2013, Aaron Hernandez’s off the field problems caught up with him when he shot and killed his friend, Odin Lloyd. Hernandez would later be convicted of murder in one of the more bizarre crimes the sports world has ever seen.
3. Don King – Manslaughter, Fraud (4 Years)
Don King may not be an athlete, but he’s had more to do with the sport of boxing, good or bad, than any other promoter in the history of the sport. Plus he’s a bit of a magnetic character for some screwed up reason, so I included him. What many people may not know is that in 1966 Dr. King entered a local tavern and happened across a patron that owed him money. Taking his displeasure out on the patron for his failure to pay up his debt, Don King and the now deceased Sam Garrett began fighting outside a bar in Manhattan. That’s where Garrett lost his life, and King was soon to be charged with Garrett’s murder. Don King entered a plea of self-defense and would later spend four years behind bars.
2. Sam Hurd – Narcotics Distribution (10 Years)
Most cons probably wouldn’t call Sam Hurd the sharpest tool in the shed. Or at least you wouldn’t think so after his blunder with law enforcement in 2011. The ex-NFL receiver decided he’d do some narcotics business with an undercover informant that would potentially place him behind bars for years to come. Hurd told a DEA agent that he would be willing to move several kilos of cocaine and marijuana throughout the Chicago area. Very Pablo Escobar-like, if you will— only not. That foolish move would later turn his football career into a dunzo football career. Even if a forgettable player at best, the entire ordeal could cost Sam Hurd the potential of ten years, or at worst, life behind bars.
1. Ugueth Urbina – Attempted Murder (14 Years)
Maybe at some point in your life you happened to find yourself on the wrong side of a Venezuelan prison? If that’s the case, you might have seen a guy out in the yard playing baseball, that was just a little bit better than everyone else… hell, way better than everyone else. You may have been looking at Ugueth Urbina; the one-time Major League Baseball star closer who in 2012 was released early after serving seven years of his fourteen-year sentence. Ugueth Urbina was convicted of attempted murder in 2007. Apparently, Urbina thought some of his help had stolen from him and decided to get his form of justice by pouring gasoline on them. He didn’t stop there. Setting them on fire earned this Major League closer a well-deserved stint in the joint for attempted murder.