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The Biggest Criminals in Sports History

Sports Criminals
Top 5 Sporting Heroes who ended up becoming Criminals. Pictured left, O.J Simpson, former football great and former Ice Skater who both ended up renowned as one of the Biggest Sports Criminals ever.
Sports Criminals
Top 5 Sporting Heroes who ended up becoming Criminals. Pictured former Ice Skater who ended up renowned as one of the Biggest Sports Criminals ever.

The Biggest Sports Criminals in History: Whether by fixing a game, murder, cheating or simply being involved in illicit activities – these icons continue to capture the public imagination. 

You should never meet your heroes. That’s the old saying anyway. But the idea behind that is that they will never quite live up to the expectations you put on them as a fan. They might not be quite as impressive in the flesh as they seem to be on the field of play. 

But the sports athletes that we are taking a look at here should be avoided for a whole host of other reasons. It is true, in their time they were making headlines for the right reasons and featuring on all the best sports betting websites. But along the way something went very wrong – and now they are all better known for their criminal activity than for their championship rings.

Rae Carruth

Carruth was a standout wide receiver at college and was taken in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft. He then spent three years as a Carolina Panther. But in 2001 he was found guilty of conspiring to murder his then-girlfriend, Cherica Adams, who also happened to be pregnant with their child.

Unfortunately, trying to get out of child payments is not an uncommon story with sports stars. But Carruth went further and organized for an associate to shoot his partner and make it look like a random killing. Adams was able to tell the paramedics what had happened though and Carruth was found guilty, eventually spending 18 years in jail and reaching out to his son upon getting out. 

Tonya Harding

This story is so famous that there have been countless TV dramas and movies about it. A successful ice skater, Harding was so desperate to win the 1994 US Figure Skating Championships that she became involved in a plot to attack and injure her main rival for the title, Nancy Kerrigan. 

Television cameras captured the moments just after Kerrigan’s attack, designed to break her knee bone. Her ex-husband had orchestrated the affair and Harding eventually took a plea bargain, pleading guilty to conspiracy to hinder prosecution. She never did any jail time but was banned from the sport and later wound up in a number of different jobs including professional boxing and appearing on Dancing with the Stars.

Michael Vick

Vick was a bona fide game-changer, altering what was expected of a quarterback and becoming the first dual-threat play caller in the NFL. He was the number one pick overall in the 2001 NFL Draft and was expected to bring Super Bowl success to the Atlanta Falcons. 

But his football career was halted in 2007 when he pleaded guilty to being involved in a dog-fighting ring. He originally lied about his part in the business but later admitted to the enterprise, including drowning and hanging dogs that were too old to make him more money. He spent just under two years in jail before returning to the NFL to play for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Biggest Sports Criminals
Top 5 Sporting Heroes who ended up becoming Criminals. Pictured left, Oscar Pistorius, former special Olympics sprinter and his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp who he ended up shooting at their South Africa home, making the Paraplegic athlete one of the Biggest Sports Criminals in History.

Oscar Pistorius

 The first real Paralympic superstar, Oscar Pistorius won multiple medals and championships and earned the nicknames “Blade Runner” and “The Fastest Man on No Legs”. He had both his feet amputated as a baby and used blades to run to great effect, eventually competing at the 2012 Summer Olympics. 

But the next year he shot and killed his girlfriend, alleging that he thought there were intruders in their home. He was originally found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years. But two years later that verdict was overturned on appeal and he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 15 years.

O.J. Simpson

He was at the center of what became to be known as the trial of the century. But O.J. Simpson was originally regarded as one of the finest running backs of all time and won multiple personal awards in the NFL, primarily for the Buffalo Bills. He later went on to have a hugely successful career on the small and silver screen.

But in 1994 he was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife and a friend of hers. He was famously acquitted because of tampered evidence – and a hotshot legal defense. It was a controversial verdict and he later wrote a book about how he would have committed the double murder. He later did time for kidnapping and armed robbery.