Athletes are just regular people right? Well, regular people that are unbelievable when it comes to forms of physical competition and who make tons of money. But being only human, they still make mistakes and sometimes enjoy substances that alter their reality or mindset. Due to laws that still exist in most states and in most countries outside of the US, when professional athletes are caught with illicit drugs, they are charged, like the rest of us would be, but because they are athletes they usually get away with it. That’s when the uptight bureaucrats in charge of sports leagues and team owners step up and hoof the athletes when they’re down, issuing orders to attend rehab, etc. It’s all a big joke a little bit of a joke, whether it be the politicians who keep this poorly concocted and atrociously executed “war on drugs” going or the team owners pretending to care about the well-being of their athletes, but enough about the evils of legal paternalism and the two-faced nature of league and team “leadership,” this is tangential to my article’s theme: athletes who got in trouble for using drugs.
For the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on the kitten of all drugs, marijuana. The gateway drug. You know, that green plant that terrifies those afraid of giggling, psychedelic rock and binge eating? Many athletes have dealt with punishments for lighting up the wacky stuff. Here are 10 notable athletes.
To be quite clear, no one is calling these athletes potheads or addressing whether or not they continue to use pot or other substances. This is just an article to look at the consequences and reasons (if any) for which they used the drug. As there are many athletes who have been found to have possessed and been caught having smoked pot these are just the ten most memorables ones. Honorable mentions go out to Bill Walton, Michael Vick, Warren Sapp, Ross Rebagliati, Dock Ellis, Mark Stepnoski, Rasheed Wallace, Ferguson Jenkins, Rohan Marley, and Tim Lincecum. These athletes all either admitted to or were accused of consumption or possession of dope, but most never had to deal with any punishment from their respective leagues or the “authorities”. If you disagree with list membership or the ordering, you know where to find the comments section.
10 Damon Stoudamire: Basketball
The NBA’s 1996 Rookie of the Year will start off this list. Stoudamire had a decent career in the NBA, playing for the Raptors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and briefly the Spurs. Since his 2008 retirement, he has become a coach and is now working for Arizona. It was like this was set up as a joke and all the jokes have been made by now, but let us use the most obvious one: "Put a guy on a team called the Blazers and what does he do?" His time in Portland produced several pot related incidents. He and Rasheed Wallace were pulled over for speeding and marijuana was found in the vehicle and he was charged with driving under the influence. His 3rd offense was in 2003, when he was charged with marijuana possession. On top of a fine of $250,000 and a lengthy suspension, Steve Patterson, the Trail Blazers’ president at the time, stated that he wanted to throw out his entire contract. The following year, Stoudamire agreed to an “anytime” urine test with a reporter from Oregon, which he passed. However, he was criticized by the NBA Players’ Association for volunteering for such a test. Imagine that, get a couple of pot charges and lose a pile of money and almost your job. Prove that you’re sober and your peers bitch and complain.
9 Nick Diaz: MMA
Diaz has been involved with MMA since he was a teenager. He’s currently 30 years old but is retired from the sport. He moved around leagues frequently throughout his career and returned to the UFC in 2011. A tough fighter, he always puts up a good show. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago a drug test of his came back positive for marijuana. He offered little in the way of defense and was suspended for the year; February 2012 to February 2013. During this period he announced his retirement. He has said a few times that he would consider coming out of retirement for a title shot, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that title shots are generally give to massive names or fighters on solid win streaks.
Nick Diaz is notable but not massive and he is currently on a two-loss streak. A few fighters over the years have tested positive for pot. Dana White has also addressed it before that he thinks pot being on the list of MMA’s banned substances is stupid, but it has yet to change. While I don’t care personally whether any athletes smoke dope, it should definitely be allowed for cage fighters. These guys get hit in the face, kneed in the ribs, kicked just about everywhere, and with regards to submissions, they get their limbs ripped apart at the joints. It doesn’t take a career pothead to know that Mary Jane has her painkilling properties, let the men who brutalize each other for a living have a puff.
8 Lamar Odom: Basketball
This guy married a Kardashian. I’m actually not sure why that’s a big deal, but some people somewhere thought these girls were television-worthy, so we might as well mention them as often as possible. They apparently divorced back in 2013, but who cares, we’re talking about pot and sports. Before we get to the drugs though: Odom has been a solid basketball player and was on both league champion Lakers teams in '09 and '10. Now on to the drugs. He was suspended by the NBA a few years ago for violating the league’s drug policy (testing positive for pot) twice within eight months. He claimed to have just been experimenting. Yeah Lamar, and I was just giving the "lady of the night" a ride home, come on champ. When you’re caught, just hang your head and issue a fake apology. Come to think of it, we’re both dudes, so we should know that all our apologies are fake.
7 Jason Williams: Basketball
White Chocolate was pretty effective when he was on the court and was a significant player for the Heat when they won it all back in 2006. He is also a big fan of Mary Jane, getting in trouble back in college while at Florida and then again when he turned professional. While playing for the Gators he received three infractions for pot use and was finally suspended for the season after his 3rd. Once in the NBA he continued to toke up, being suspended for five games after he essentially ignored instruction to attend drug treatment therapy, which had been arranged by the league.
6 Santonio Holmes: Football
The Super Bowl XLIII MVP has admitted in the past that when he was growing up as a teenager, he went through a period when he sold drugs. Old habits die hard though, as he has dealt with legal troubles throughout his career. He once assaulted a woman in a nightclub, has been arrested in connection with one more assault and was arrested once in Pittsburgh for possession of marijuana. Not much became of the incident. Later, after he received negative tweets from Twitter followers regarding his alleged assault, he, in his frustration, told the follower to commit suicide and later commented that it was time for a “wake and bake.” He received some negative press for this statement, and obviously his arrest.
5 Chris Webber: Basketball
Chris Webber, recruited to University of Michigan in 1991, was a member of what is recognized among the greatest freshman recruiting lines in NCAA history, the Fab Five. Unfortunately the success of these young men was tainted by Webber accepting money in the Ed Martin Scandal, in which he accepted money for his college play on the court, which we all know is illegal in the NCAA.
Once in the NBA he was not only Rookie of the Year, but also a five-time NBA All-Star. 1998 was a rough year for Webber, however, as he was caught with marijuana twice. The first time he was driving, and after being pulled over he was in an altercation with the cops, after which he was charged with assault, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana and driving under the influence of marijuana. He was acquitted on most of the charges and he ended up paying about $500 in smaller fines. A few months later, US customs found marijuana in his bag while he was in an airport and he was fined $500. Mere peanuts.
4 Ricky Williams: Football
Here’s a thought, if people drafted into service during the Vietnam War who came to Canada (and other places) are called “draft dodgers,” would football players suspended by the NFL for drug use who come up to play in the CFL be called “Drug Rule Dodgers?” If you can do better, let's see it in the comments section, please. I feel for Ricky Williams. Short story for Williams is, he had social anxiety and a couple of other mood disorders that marijuana helps him overcome. He used a pharmaceutical drug called Paxil, but argued that it was not nearly as effective as pot and that it was hard on his system because it clashed with his diet. He violated the NFL’s drug policy four times and was set to be suspended for the 2006 season, but instead took a contract with the Toronto Argonauts, as the CFL did not have a drug screening policy in place at the time, nor were suspended NFL players barred from playing for CFL teams at the time. A couple of years after Ricky Williams left the CFL however, such a rule was put in place.
3 Randy Moss: Football
Roughly the only thing he actually lacks is a Super Bowl ring. Randy Moss is among the finest wide receivers the NFL has ever seen. His list of league records is massive and among them are most touchdown receptions in a season, most years with 17 or more touchdown receptions and most touchdown receptions by a rookie. He’s also a seven-time Pro Bowler and the fastest player ever to receive 5,000 yards receiving, doing so in 59 games. With all that said, he was no stranger to controversy. In addition to on field incidents like pretending to “moon” Green Bay fans and more than one assault charge, he has been in trouble for marijuana use several times in his career.
In 2002, he was caught with marijuana in his car after a serious altercation involving his vehicle with a police-woman in Minneapolis. He had a failed drug test in the late 90’s, while in jail, which lost him a scholarship to Florida State, tested positive for pot in 2001 and later in his career he admitted in an interview that during his NFL career, he had smoked dope from time to time. The guy’s team went 16-0 then lost the Super Bowl to the Giants, let him have a toke!
2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Basketball
He had a 20 year career which is considered to be among the finest in the history of the NBA. The 7’2 beast achieved six NBA titles; one with the Bucks and five with the Lakers, was a nineteen time All-Star and six-time league MVP. If that’s not enough, he is the all-time NBA leading scorer and has had his number retired by the Bucks, Lakers and UCLA, his alma mater. Along with being such a dominant force on the court, he also caused controversy, mostly after his career, due to marijuana use. His rationale for smoking up was always that he had migraines and that THC alleviated most of his symptoms. He was arrested twice for pot related behavior; once at Pearson Airport in Toronto and once in Los Angeles for driving while high.
1 Michael Phelps: Swimming
I’m not going to bludgeon you too hard with the specifics and details of Michael Phelps’ swimming career. Let me sum it up by saying that if he had all of his medals melted down, he could probably make a set of chains that would make Mr. T pity himself. Basically he has championships in the same way that Jagger has moves, forgive the bad, outdated joke. Outside of being the greatest human being ever to come into contact with water, he has dealt with some controversy throughout his life. He had a DUI at age 19 that resulted in some community work and a small fine. Then he was pictured with a bong. He was suspended following the release of this picture and lost sponsorships, notably Kellogg's. That’s a stupid idea for Kellogg's, who should have realized, “we make cereal and snack food, WHO LIKES CEREAL AND SNACK FOOD MORE THAN A GIGGLING POTHEAD?!” The ads pretty much make themselves. Finally, he publicly apologized for the contents of the picture, saying it was at a student party and was “inappropriate.” If he was at a “student party,” isn’t it completely appropriate? I’d be more perplexed if he was at a student party and started reading textbooks and jotting down notes.
But again, the media sometimes seems confused what college/university is really all about. It’s about casual encounters, keg stands, beer pong and smokin’ the reefer. If it wasn’t for these things, how would any students be able to sit through the mindless droning of their self-obsessed and socially unaware professors?