Pete Rose – Reds, Phillies, Expos, Reds Manager
In August 1989, three years after he retired as an active player, Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds; some accusations claimed that he bet on, and even against, the Reds. After years of public denial, in 2004 he admitted to betting on, but not against, the Reds. After Rose’s ban was instated, the Baseball Hall of Fame formally voted to ban those on the “permanently ineligible” list from induction. His hordes of adoring fans continue to plead for his inclusion into the Hall, but thus far, no one is bending.
Ron Artest – Bulls, Pacers, Kings
On November 19th, 2004, Artest took center stage in arguably the most infamous brawl in professional basketball history. The game took place in Auburn Hills Michigan between Artest’s Pacers and the home team Detroit Pistons. The brawl began when Artest fouled Pistons center Ben Wallace as Wallace was putting up a shot. Wallace, upset at being fouled hard when the game was effectively over (the Pacers led 97-82), responded by shoving Artest, leading to an altercation near the scorer’s table. Artest walked to the sideline and lay down on the scorer’s table, while mocking Wallace. Wallace then threw an armband at Artest while he pretended to give a radio interview at the scorer’s table. Reacting to Wallace throwing something at Artest, Pistons fan John Green threw a cup of beer at Artest, hitting him. Artest jumped into the front-row seats and confronted a man he believed to be responsible (who turned out to be the wrong man), which in turn erupted into a brawl between Pistons fans and several of the Pacers. Artest returned to the basketball court, and punched Pistons fan A.J. Shackleford, who was apparently taunting Artest verbally. This fight resulted in the game being stopped with less than a minute remaining. Artest and teammates Jermaine O’Neil and Stephen Jackson were suspended indefinitely the day after the game, along with Wallace. On November 21st, the NBA announced that Artest would be suspended for the remainder of the season (73 games plus playoff appearances). This is the longest non-drug or betting related suspension in NBA history.
Mike Tyson – Heavyweight Boxing
Tyson was arrested in July 1991 for the rape of Miss Black Rhode Island, Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. Tyson was convicted on the charge on Feb. 10th, 1992. Tyson’s trial is chronicled in the book, Down For The Count by Mark Shaw. It strongly suggests that Tyson would not have been convicted if he had been provided adequate legal defense counsel and that Tyson thus did not receive a fair trial. Under Indiana law, a defendant convicted of a felony must begin serving his prison sentence immediately after the sentence is imposed. He was given a sentence of six years and was released on March 1995 after serving three years. On June 28th, 1997, the second bout between Tyson and Evander Holyfield would become one of the most controversial events in modern sports. The fight was stopped at the end of the third round, with Tyson disqualified for biting Holyfield on both ears. One bite was severe enough to remove a piece of Holyfield’s right ear, which was found on the ring floor after the fight. Tyson later stated that it was retaliation for Holyfield repeatedly head butting him without penalty. In the confusion that followed the ending of the bout and announcement of the decision, a near riot erupted in the arena and several people were injured in the ensuing melee. On July 29th, 1997, Tyson’s boxing license was revoked by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in a unanimous voice vote; he was also fined $3 million and ordered to pay the legal costs of the hearing. The revocation was not permanent, as a little more than a year later on October 18th, 1998, the commission voted 4-1 to restore Tyson’s boxing license. Legal problems caught up with Tyson once again. On February 6th, 1999, Tyson was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment, fined $5,000, and ordered to serve two years’ probation and perform 200 hours of community service for assaulting two motorists after a traffic accident on Aug. 31st, 1998. He served nine months of that sentence.
Rae Carruth – Panthers
On November 16th, 1999, near Carruth’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina, Cherica Adams, a woman Carruth had been dating, was shot four times in a drive-by shooting. Surviving the shooting for a time, Adams called 911 and described Carruth’s behavior: He had stopped his vehicle in front of hers as another vehicle drove alongside Adams’ and its passenger shot her. Carruth then drove from the scene. Adams was eight months pregnant with Carruth’s child. It was later found out she was pregnant with twins. Soon after her admission to the hospital, Adams fell into a coma. Doctors saved one of the children’s lives, the other later died from complications. Later, Carruth went to the police and posted a $3 million bond, with the condition that if either Adams or the children died, he would turn himself in. However, after Adams died, Carruth fled. The Panthers released him a few days later, citing a morals clause in his contract. He was eventually captured after being found hiding in the trunk of a car outside a motel in Parkers Crossroads, Tennessee. Also, in the trunk was $3,900 in cash, bottles to hold Carruth’s urine, extra clothes, candy bars, and a cell phone. At trial Rae Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder by shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. He was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison. However, Carruth was found not guilty of 1st-degree murder and was spared the death penalty. Carruth was released on October 22, 2018 and relocated to Pennsylvania.
Michael Vick – Falcons
Michael Dwayne Vick served a 23-month sentence of incarceration for criminal conspiracy resulting from felonious dog fighting. A U.S. federal district court convicted and sentenced him in 2007 for his role in the dog fighting ring and related gambling activity. He served his time at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. This is the official, “How To Ruin A Promising Quarterback Career” Step One. His ticket has been punched and he’s going to ride on the same bus as Carruth. Dog fighting. Despicable.
OJ Simpson – Bills, 49ers
Besides his Hall of Fame career, Simpson is infamous for having been tried for the murder of ex-wife Nicole-Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994. He was acquitted in criminal court in 1995 after a lengthy, highly publicized trial. In 1997, Simpson was found liable for their deaths in civil court, but to date has paid little of the $33.5 million judgment. He gained further notoriety in late 2006 when he wrote a book titled If I Did It. The book, which purports to be a first-person fictional account of the murder had he actually committed it, was withdrawn by the publisher just before its release. The book was later released by the Goldman family and the title of the book was expanded to If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer. In September 2007, Simpson faced more legal troubles, as he was arrested and subsequently charged with numerous felonies including but not limited to robbery, burglary, and assault, all with a deadly weapon, first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, coercion with use of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit a crime. The murder trial became famous for sayings like “If it does not fit, you must acquit.” The robbery trial was famous for the footage where Simpson could be heard screaming, “They stole my s**t!” He was found guilty and served 10 years in prison. This guy, the absolute most abhorrent criminal in the sporting world, regardless (in my opinion) of his innocence, is about as criminally clean as Satan. As he spends his days searching for the ‘real killer’ on the golf course while avoiding his restitution obligations, I’ll maintain that he deserves to be put to death by firing squad.