Controversial The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History  

Ranker Sports
Originally by
10.4k votes 1.1k voters 22.7k 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
498 75
O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 71

2
356 125
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 52

3
327 124
Lance Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

4
233 82
Aaron Hernandez is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 29

5
239 111
Michael Vick is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 38

6
265 131
Dennis Rodman is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 57

7
225 103
Tonya Harding is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 48

8
219 112
Barry Bonds is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 54

9
222 139
Tiger Woods is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

10
152 71
Ray Rice is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 31

11
120 47
Colin Kaepernick is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

12
200 119
Caitlyn Jenner is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
sageantone added age 69

13
123 74
Johnny Manziel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Bellwoodbomb611 added age 26

14
172 125
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

15
122 83
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 43

16
171 97
Pete Rose is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 77

17
163 104
Alex Rodriguez is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

18
91 67
Ben Johnson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 57

19
107 61
Terrell Owens is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 45

20
143 118
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 76

21
91 57
John McEnroe is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 59

22
94 67
Mark McGwire is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 55

23
116 88
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 40

24
86 61
Jose Canseco is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
RobLein added age 54

25
95 86
Luis Suárez is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 31

26
76 58
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 59

27
85 66
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anthony Hawkins added age 41

28
81 66
Hope Solo is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 37

29
69 48
John Rocker is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 44

30
86 65
Sammy Sosa is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 50

31
84 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
66 55
Ty Cobb is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Died at 75 (1886-1961)

33
20 15
Darren Sharper is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

34
57 52
Plaxico Burress is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

35
103 104
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 34

36
47 53
Sonny Liston is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Died at 38 (1932-1970)

37
66 69
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

38
55 57
Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 57

39
59 44
Manny Ramírez is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

40
109 128
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

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

42
32 34
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 23
Paolo Di Canio is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added age 50

44
49 56
Anna Kournikova is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

45
41 48
Floyd Landis is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

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

47
19 18
Tyson Fury is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added age 30

48
23 23
Paul Gascoigne is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
MaikPauli added age 51

49
30 38
Gerald McClellan is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
darren-bell added age 51

50
21 23
Alberto Contador is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Fletcher Edge added age 36