Controversial The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History  

Ranker Sports
Originally by
9.9k votes 1.1k voters 21.3k views 61 items

List Rules Athletes in any sport that have been embroiled in controversy - domestic disputes, sex scandals, cheating accusations, anything really

Sports stars are one part celebrity, one part athlete. Like so many celebrities, some sports stars are prone to scandal. These sports stars are were involved some of the biggest controversies of all time, and many remain controversial figures to this day despite being retired.

O.J Simpson is perhaps the biggest controversial athlete of all time, for "not killing his ex-wife" in 1994. Remember when one of the best NBA players of all time, LeBron James, took his talents to South Beach? That was definitely a case of a sports star who caused controversy. And then, of course, there's Anna Kournikova, who has caused controversy simply for being beautiful.

Which athletes do you think are the most controversial of all time? What is your definition of controversy? Is it off-the-field antics like the domestic drama surrounding Tiger Woods, or is it on-the-court antics like John McEnroe's famous profane meltdowns?

Which is worse, steroids or biting off someone's ear? The choice is yours! Vote up the stars who've caused the most controversy and if we missed any scandalous athletes, add them to the controversial sport stars list!

1
476 71
O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
O. J. Simpson age 71

2
342 118
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mike Tyson age 52

3
315 113
Lance Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

4
215 78
Aaron Hernandez is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Aaron Hernandez age 29

5
229 107
Michael Vick is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Michael Vick age 38

6
254 123
Dennis Rodman is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Dennis Rodman age 57

7
211 97
Tonya Harding is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Tonya Harding age 48

8
209 106
Barry Bonds is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Barry Bonds age 54

9
216 130
Tiger Woods is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Tiger Woods age 43

10
142 66
Ray Rice is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Ray Rice age 31

11
100 42
Colin Kaepernick is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

12
185 116
Caitlyn Jenner is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
sageantone added Caitlyn Jenner age 69

13
162 117
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

14
114 69
Johnny Manziel is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Bellwoodbomb611 added Johnny Manziel age 26

15
114 78
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Ray Lewis age 43

16
157 101
Alex Rodriguez is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

17
159 97
Pete Rose is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Pete Rose age 77

18
88 61
Ben Johnson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Ben Johnson age 57

19
135 114
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Muhammad Ali age 76

20
99 59
Terrell Owens is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Terrell Owens age 45

21
93 81
Luis Suárez is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Luis Suárez age 31

22
109 83
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Kobe Bryant age 40

23
89 65
Mark McGwire is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mark McGwire age 55

24
81 58
Jose Canseco is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
RobLein added Jose Canseco age 54

25
70 54
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Lawrence Taylor age 59

26
84 57
John McEnroe is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
John McEnroe age 59

27
78 61
Hope Solo is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Hope Solo age 37

28
83 62
Sammy Sosa is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Sammy Sosa age 50

29
76 61
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anthony Hawkins added Tom Brady age 41

30
65 45
John Rocker is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
John Rocker age 44

31
80 68
Shoeless Joe Jackson is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Shoeless Joe Jackson Died at 64 (1887-1951)

32
62 53
Ty Cobb is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Ty Cobb Died at 75 (1886-1961)

33
18 12
Darren Sharper is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

34
55 49
Plaxico Burress is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

35
65 64
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Allen Iverson age 43

36
97 99
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
LeBron James age 34

37
54 55
Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Isiah Thomas age 57

38
58 43
Manny Ramírez is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

39
46 52
Sonny Liston is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Sonny Liston Died at 38 (1932-1970)

40
32 31
Patrick Kane is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
doro-the-exploro-gaming added Patrick Kane age 30

41
107 126
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

42
49 52
Anna Kournikova is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

43
18 18
Jerrod Mustaf is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anna Paolinelli added Jerrod Mustaf age 49

44
26 22
Paolo Di Canio is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added Paolo Di Canio age 50

45
41 46
Floyd Landis is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Floyd Landis age 43

46
39 44
Zola Budd is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Zola Budd age 52

47
23 21
Paul Gascoigne is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
MaikPauli added Paul Gascoigne age 51

48
30 36
Gerald McClellan is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
darren-bell added Gerald McClellan age 51

49
18 17
Tyson Fury is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added Tyson Fury age 30

50
21 21
Alberto Contador is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Fletcher Edge added Alberto Contador age 36