Controversial The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History  

Ranker Sports
Originally by
11.3k votes 1.2k voters 24.2k 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
540 87
O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 71

2
385 147
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 52

3
355 141
Lance Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

4
257 93
Aaron Hernandez is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 29

5
259 123
Michael Vick is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 38

6
249 111
Tonya Harding is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 48

7
276 150
Dennis Rodman is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 57

8
235 124
Barry Bonds is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 54

9
240 155
Tiger Woods is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

10
167 84
Ray Rice is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 31

11
148 61
Colin Kaepernick is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

12
219 132
Caitlyn Jenner is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
sageantone added age 69

13
139 85
Johnny Manziel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Bellwoodbomb611 added age 26

14
185 137
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

15
182 105
Pete Rose is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 77

16
135 95
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 43

17
168 113
Alex Rodriguez is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

18
99 73
Ben Johnson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 57

19
156 129
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 76

20
117 67
Terrell Owens is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 45

21
96 59
John McEnroe is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 59

22
99 70
Mark McGwire is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 55

23
92 64
Jose Canseco is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
RobLein added age 54

24
124 97
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 40

25
100 93
Luis Suárez is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 31

26
81 64
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 59

27
96 76
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anthony Hawkins added age 41

28
91 73
Shoeless Joe Jackson is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Died at 64 (1887-1951)

29
88 70
Hope Solo is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added age 37

30
73 50
John Rocker is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 44

31
72 57
Ty Cobb is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Died at 75 (1886-1961)

32
91 70
Sammy Sosa is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 50

33
60 54
Plaxico Burress is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

34
21 18
Darren Sharper is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

35
111 113
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 34

36
114 130
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

37
59 61
Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 57

38
69 73
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

39
49 57
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
61 46
Manny Ramírez is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

41
30 25
Paolo Di Canio is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added age 50

42
20 21
Jerrod Mustaf is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anna Paolinelli added age 49

43
34 38
Patrick Kane is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
doro-the-exploro-gaming added age 30

44
51 60
Anna Kournikova is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

45
41 49
Zola Budd is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added age 52

46
26 25
Paul Gascoigne is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
MaikPauli added age 51

47
42 51
Floyd Landis is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
age 43

48
21 22
Tyson Fury is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added age 30

49
31 41
Gerald McClellan is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
darren-bell added age 51

50
23 27
Alberto Contador is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Fletcher Edge added age 36