Italian motorbike racer Valentino Rossi once said, “I don’t like being famous – it’s like a prison.” Well, several famous athletes seem to have taken the quote to a whole new level, actually spending time in jail.
Yes, while these prominent sportsmen and women were already rolling in dough and could have simply enjoyed their fame and fortune, they somehow managed to find themselves serving time instead. Their charges run the gamut from being as dumb as drug trafficking to as serious as murder, but what they all have in common is that each of these incidents left a black spot on what would have otherwise been successful and noteworthy careers.
But these people are only human after all, and everyone makes mistakes – theirs, however, made just a little bit more regrettable by the stature and money they had to ultimately sacrifice after being ordered to pay their dues in a cell. For some of them, their punishment spelled the end of their lives as athletes. Others bounced back and continued to move forward with their careers. Whatever the case may be, here are 10 top athletes who had to go to spend time in the slammer.
10. Marion Jones – Track & Field / Career Earnings: $12 Million
After having won 5 gold medals, Marion Jones was the darling of the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney Australia. But just seven years later, she turned into one of America’s greatest sports embarrassments after she admitted to using performance-enhancing steroids throughout most of her career. As a result, Jones had to surrender all medals and prizes dating back to September of 2000, the money estimated at around $700,000.
Actually, rumours of her using banned substances had hounded Jones throughout her career, beginning when she was just starting to make her mark as an athlete in high school. Despite her repeated denials, it didn’t help her cause that she worked with coaches and trainers known to supply their athletes with illegal substances, and had children with sprinter Tim Montgomery and shot putter C.J. Hunter – both involved in investigations on steroid abuse.
Aside from the penalties resulting from her steroid use and lying about it under oath, Jones was also found guilty of being involved in a check-fraud case and was sentenced to serve six months in jail. She began her sentence on March 7, 2008 and was released later that year on September 5.
Today, Jones is reported to be worth no more than $500,000 and still heavily in debt – quite a shock considering that she was one of the first female sports millionaires, typically making around $80,000 per race, along with at least another million from endorsement deals and race bonuses.