Professional athletes are everyday heroes, idolized by children and grown men for their incredible prowess. Unfortunately, men who are lauded, young and with a huge influx of cash at their fingertips often have problems breaking up with their sometimes checkered past, and many professional athletes have faced their fair share of facing prosecution in our criminal justice system, and not just for tax evasion. The following is a list of some of the most notorious and tragic sports-crime stories in recent history.
1) Aaron Hernandez (NFL – Patriots) – The former tight-end for one of the most successful sports teams in history made headlines recently when he was found hanged in his prison cell. He was serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd, the boyfriend of his fiancee’s sister in 2013. He was recently acquitted for a separate murder of two men in 2012. Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe commented that Hernandez’s life was a tragic example of his inability to leave behind the lifestyle of a gang member, despite his wild success with the Patriots. Indeed, in his high school and college, he was involved in several criminal incidents, usually violent encounters with third parties.
2) Jeremy Mayfield, (NASCAR) – Mayfield battled a drug addiction, being suspended from NASCAR after he failed multiple drug tests. To add insult to injury, the DEA found over $100,000.00 worth of stolen goods in his home, as well as 1.5 grams of methamphetamine. He is currently facing a 14-year prison sentence for felony larceny and drug possession. Hopefully he is able to get some help and kick his addiction to the curb.
3) Darryl Strawberry (Baseball) – A brilliant player for the New York Mets, Strawberry was arrested at least three times for domestic violence, despite there not being any convictions. He was also arrested and charged for solicitation and cocaine possession after he allegedly offered an undercover officer $50.00 to have sex with him. On top of this, he has been plagued with allegations of tax evasion and failure to pay child support. All in all, it seems to be a fairly significant waste of what could have been one of the most best players in the MLB.
4) Mike Tyson (Boxing) – Mike Tyson’s past is like a checkboard, with a list of criminal offenses down to his knees. He’s a convicted rapist, and has had charges of road rage and possession of narcotics. He also clearly has no regrets, saying of the alleged rape that he hated her guts and really did want to rape her. He might be the youngest boxer to win a series of heavyweight titles, but he should stick to boxing.
5) Michael Vick (NFL) – Despite him still being a solid choice for your fantasy football league, it’s hard not to forget that Michael Vick was alleged to have seriously abused dogs in furtherance of his dog fighting operation. According to federal agents, the organization hung dogs, drowned them, and slammed at least one dog to the ground with such force that it broke its neck or back, killing it. This happened to the dogs who did not do well in fights. In 2010, three years after he entered a guilty plea and served a two-year sentence, Vick was named as the Eagles starting quarterback for a $5.25 million contract.
These examples often show that notoriety, money and a good defense can make a huge difference in both the conviction and life after crime for these athletes. Despite serious allegations, many of their sentences were fairly light, and in the case of Mike Tyson and Michael Vick, they are still fairly successful individuals who earn more money than many of us will ever see in our entire lives. With that said – there is no price that can be set on a good criminal defense.