Controversial The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History  

Ranker Sports
Originally by
10.8k votes 1.2k voters 23.4k 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
516 81
O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 71

2
372 134
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 52

3
341 130
Lance Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

4
246 88
Aaron Hernandez is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 29

5
249 115
Michael Vick is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 38

6
272 137
Dennis Rodman is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 57

7
237 104
Tonya Harding is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 48

8
228 115
Barry Bonds is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 54

9
227 145
Tiger Woods is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

10
158 75
Ray Rice is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 31

11
209 123
Caitlyn Jenner is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
sageantone added age 69

12
131 55
Colin Kaepernick is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

13
131 87
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 43

14
130 80
Johnny Manziel is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Bellwoodbomb611 added age 26

15
176 100
Pete Rose is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 77

16
177 131
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

17
164 109
Alex Rodriguez is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

18
113 64
Terrell Owens is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 45

19
94 72
Ben Johnson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 57

20
148 125
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 76

21
95 58
John McEnroe is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 59

22
97 69
Mark McGwire is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 55

23
89 63
Jose Canseco is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
RobLein added age 54

24
80 61
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 59

25
121 95
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 40

26
96 91
Luis Suárez is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 31

27
90 71
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anthony Hawkins added age 41

28
91 67
Sammy Sosa is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 50

29
85 68
Hope Solo is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 37

30
88 72
Shoeless Joe Jackson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Died at 64 (1887-1951)

31
72 49
John Rocker is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 44

32
70 56
Ty Cobb is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Died at 75 (1886-1961)

33
60 53
Plaxico Burress is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

34
21 17
Darren Sharper is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

35
107 111
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 34

36
68 72
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

37
110 129
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

38
57 60
Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 57

39
48 56
Sonny Liston is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Died at 38 (1932-1970)

40
60 45
Manny Ramírez is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

41
20 20
Jerrod Mustaf is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anna Paolinelli added age 49

42
33 36
Patrick Kane is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
doro-the-exploro-gaming added age 30

43
50 58
Anna Kournikova is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

44
27 25
Paolo Di Canio is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added age 50

45
42 50
Floyd Landis is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

46
39 48
Zola Budd is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 52

47
23 25
Paul Gascoigne is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
MaikPauli added age 51

48
30 41
Gerald McClellan is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
darren-bell added age 51

49
19 22
Tyson Fury is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added age 30

50
71 93
Tim Tebow is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 31