controversial The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History  

Ranker Sports
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8.8k votes 985 voters 18.8k 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!
list ordered by

1
406 65
O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
O. J. Simpson age 71

2
296 100
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mike Tyson age 52

3
268 97
Lance Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

4
186 61
Aaron Hernandez is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Aaron Hernandez age 29

5
197 96
Michael Vick is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Michael Vick age 38

6
220 113
Dennis Rodman is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Dennis Rodman age 57

7
185 96
Barry Bonds is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Barry Bonds age 54

8
193 113
Tiger Woods is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Tiger Woods age 43

9
175 91
Tonya Harding is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Tonya Harding age 48

10
119 56
Ray Rice is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Ray Rice age 31

11
153 100
Caitlyn Jenner is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
sageantone added Caitlyn Jenner age 69

12
94 55
Johnny Manziel is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Bellwoodbomb611 added Johnny Manziel age 26

13
68 29
Colin Kaepernick is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

14
144 107
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

The Top 10 Best Groin Shots in Sports

15
143 93
Alex Rodriguez is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

16
143 88
Pete Rose is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Pete Rose age 77

17
97 70
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Ray Lewis age 43

18
88 70
Luis Suárez is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Luis Suárez age 31

19
71 58
Ben Johnson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Ben Johnson age 57

20
116 103
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Muhammad Ali age 76

21
83 61
Mark McGwire is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mark McGwire age 55

The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

22
64 48
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Lawrence Taylor age 59

23
74 53
Jose Canseco is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
RobLein added Jose Canseco age 54

24
75 56
Hope Solo is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Hope Solo age 37

25
95 75
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Kobe Bryant age 40

26
77 54
John McEnroe is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
John McEnroe age 59

27
81 58
Terrell Owens is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Terrell Owens age 45

28
78 57
Sammy Sosa is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Sammy Sosa age 50

Athletes With the Coolest Post-Sports Careers

29
62 42
John Rocker is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
John Rocker age 44

30
64 54
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anthony Hawkins added Tom Brady age 41

31
73 64
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
58 50
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
14 9
Darren Sharper is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

34
53 47
Plaxico Burress is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

35
91 90
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
LeBron James age 34

The Weirdest Sports from Around the World

36
53 51
Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Isiah Thomas age 57

37
44 46
Sonny Liston is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Sonny Liston Died at 38 (1932-1970)

38
61 60
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Allen Iverson age 43

39
31 28
Patrick Kane is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
doro-the-exploro-gaming added Patrick Kane age 30

40
55 41
Manny Ramírez is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

41
18 15
Jerrod Mustaf is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anna Paolinelli added Jerrod Mustaf age 49

42
25 20
Paolo Di Canio is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added Paolo Di Canio age 50

The Greatest Out of Shape Athletes in Sports

43
39 41
Zola Budd is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Zola Budd age 52

44
104 123
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

45
46 50
Anna Kournikova is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

46
21 18
Paul Gascoigne is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
MaikPauli added Paul Gascoigne age 51

47
21 18
Alberto Contador is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Fletcher Edge added Alberto Contador age 36

48
40 44
Floyd Landis is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Floyd Landis age 43

49
17 15
Tyson Fury is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added Tyson Fury age 30

50
30 35
Gerald McClellan is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
darren-bell added Gerald McClellan age 51