Controversial The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History  

Ranker Sports
Originally by
10.1k votes 1.1k voters 22k 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
485 71
O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 71

2
345 121
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 52

3
320 115
Lance Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

4
223 80
Aaron Hernandez is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 29

5
232 109
Michael Vick is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 38

6
259 126
Dennis Rodman is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 57

7
217 99
Tonya Harding is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 48

8
212 110
Barry Bonds is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 54

9
218 133
Tiger Woods is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

10
145 69
Ray Rice is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 31

11
194 118
Caitlyn Jenner is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
sageantone added age 69

12
107 45
Colin Kaepernick is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

13
166 118
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

14
117 81
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 43

15
117 73
Johnny Manziel is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Bellwoodbomb611 added age 26

16
166 97
Pete Rose is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 77

17
158 104
Alex Rodriguez is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

18
89 65
Ben Johnson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 57

19
102 60
Terrell Owens is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 45

20
138 117
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 76

21
93 84
Luis Suárez is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 31

22
72 55
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 59

23
90 67
Mark McGwire is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 55

24
82 60
Jose Canseco is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
RobLein added age 54

25
110 87
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 40

26
85 57
John McEnroe is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 59

27
79 64
Hope Solo is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 37

28
83 64
Sammy Sosa is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 50

29
66 47
John Rocker is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 44

30
78 65
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anthony Hawkins added age 41

31
81 70
Shoeless Joe Jackson is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Died at 64 (1887-1951)

32
63 55
Ty Cobb is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Died at 75 (1886-1961)

33
19 14
Darren Sharper is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

34
55 52
Plaxico Burress is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

35
66 67
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

36
97 103
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 34

37
46 53
Sonny Liston is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Died at 38 (1932-1970)

38
54 57
Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 57

39
58 44
Manny Ramírez is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

40
107 127
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

41
19 18
Jerrod Mustaf is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anna Paolinelli added age 49

42
32 33
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
27 22
Paolo Di Canio is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added age 50

44
49 54
Anna Kournikova is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

45
41 47
Floyd Landis is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

46
39 45
Zola Budd is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 52

47
23 22
Paul Gascoigne is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
MaikPauli added age 51

48
30 37
Gerald McClellan is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
darren-bell added age 51

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

50
21 22
Alberto Contador is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Fletcher Edge added age 36