As you most likely already know, Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life. The banishment came as a result of racial comments Sterling made that were caught on tape. He is not the first owner of a professional sports team to have this happen to them. In 1996, Cincinnati Reds’ owner Marge Schott also received a lifetime ban from the sport. She was banned after making racist statements towards Jews, Blacks, and Asians while giving support for Nazism and the actions of Adolf Hitler.
Getting banned forever from a sport is not a new occurrence. There were many players banned from major league baseball in the late 1800s for a multitude of different reasons. Today, it is not so common. When it happens it tends to be big news. Normally, the person in question had a number of chances to change their behavior and appeal their sentence before finally being thrown out for good.
This list shows some of the biggest name players to ever been suspended from a sport for life. They are ranked in order of their popularity. Some of the players are very well known, while others are less popular. Each one of them had their career cut short for one reason or another. Most of them were given a second chance and still were unable to change their ways. Regardless of whether they claim innocence or finally managed to turn their lives around, these players will always be banned for life from their respective sports.
10. Stanley Wilson — NFL
Stanley Wilson was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals ninth overall in the 1983 draft. Throughout his career, he had a major problem with cocaine. His drug problem caused him to be suspended for both the 1985 and 1987 seasons. In 1988, on the night before Super Bowl XXIII he was found in the Bengals’ locker room high on cocaine by the team’s position coach, Jim Anderson. Since this was his third violation of the league’s drug policy, Wilson received a lifetime ban from the NFL. He was in and out of rehab following his banishment. In 1999, Wilson was found guilty of stealing $130,000 and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
9. Art Schlichter — NFL
Art Schlichter played quarterback for the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts from 1982 to 1986. At this time, the NFL had rules prohibiting its players to participate in gambling of any kind whether legal or illegal. Schlichter took his $20,000 signing bonus and began betting on basketball games. By 1983, he was in debt to bookies to the tune of $700,000. Fearing for his life, he went to the government to protect him. The NFL gave him an indefinite suspension for the acts. He was reinstated after one season, but then cut by the Colts in 1985 when they heard rumors he was out gambling again. He was picked up in the offseason by the Buffalo Bills, but was cut shortly after because the team reached a deal with Jim Kelly. The deal made Kelly the highest-paid quarterback in the league’s history at that time.
8. Roy Tarpley — NBA
Roy Tarpley was a center and power forward for the Dallas Mavericks. He played for the team for four years from 1986 to 1990. He was permanently banned from the NBA in 1994 following a third failed drug test. Tarpley appealed and was going to be reinstated for the 1995 season. Unfortunately, Tarpley could not make it that far. He was officially banned for life in 1995 for drinking alcohol which violated the terms of a court imposed personal aftercare program. Tarley holds the career record for most rebounds per game, but he is still more renowned for his banishment from the NBA.
7. Billy Coutu — NHL
Billy Coutu is the only player in NHL history to be banned for life. Coutu was famous for starting fights. He was banned from the sport in 1927 after he started a bench clearing brawl in the fourth game of the Stanley Cup Finals. He started the fight by attacking referees Jerry Laflamme and Billy Bell. Coutu claimed he was instructed to attack them by his coach, Art Ross. In 1929, the NHL lightened his ban by allowing him to play minor league hockey, but he would never be allowed to play at the professional level again.
6. Dexter Manley — NFL
Dexter Manley is a two-time Super Bowl champion as a member of the Washington Redskins. In 1989, Manley tested positive for cocaine. It was the third time he had failed a drug test. He was banned for life, but had the opportunity to appeal for reinstatement after one year. Manley won his appeal and was reinstated for the 1991 season. Soon after, he failed another drug test and was removed from the league forever.
5. Ben Johnson — Track and Field
At one time, Ben Johnson was considered the fastest man alive. The Canadian track and field star broke the world record in the 100 meter sprint at the 1987 World Championships in Athletics. He then broke his own record at the 1988 Summer Olympics. Following his gold medal wins, he was tested and it came out that he had been using steroids. Johnson claimed it should not be considered a big deal because all major athletes use them. Regardless, he was banned from the sport permanently in 1988 and stripped of all medals and world records.
4. Micheal Ray Richardson — NBA
They call him “Sugar Ray”. Micheal Ray Richardson was one of the most dominant players in the NBA during the 1980s. Then one day he suddenly disappeared from the limelight. His career was cut short when commissioner David Stern suspended him for life after he violated the NBA’s drug policy a third time. He was reinstated in 1988, but then banned in 1991 for testing positive for cocaine.
3. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson — MLB
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson was banned for Major League Baseball in 1919. He is considered one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He was banned by baseball’s first commission, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, following allegations that he was involved in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. The 1919 Black Sox Scandal was an incident involving some of the members of the Chicago White Sox. These players tried to rig the World Series in order to profit from sports bets against the team.
2. Lance Armstrong — Cycling
Lance Armstrong was widely considered to be one of the greatest athletes in the world. He won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005. In 2012, he was stripped of his titles and banned from competition for life by the Union Cycliste Internationale. This happened after the United States Anti-Doping Agency found evidence that Armstrong had been using steroids throughout his cycling career. Armstrong strongly denied these allegations. The president of the Union Cycliste Internationale, Brian Cookson, asked Armstrong to testify about his steroid use in 2013. Armstrong refused to do so because Cookson would not guarantee him full amnesty.
1. Pete Rose — MLB
Pete Rose is the first name that usually comes to mind when someone brings up the idea of an athlete being banned from their sport for life. During his playing career, Rose won three World Series rings with the Cincinnati Reds and his 4,256 career hits are still an all-time record. In 1989, while he was managing the Reds, Rose was accused of placing bets against his team. He was consequentially banished from the sport. In 1991, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that Rose would be ineligible for induction. Following many years of denying these accusations, in 2004 Rose admitted to placing sports bets while he was a member of the Reds, but continued to deny that he ever bet against the Reds. To this day, he is still banned from admittance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
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