sports The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History  

Ranker Sports
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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
320 52
O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
O. J. Simpson age 70

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2
250 76
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mike Tyson age 51

3
218 77
Lance Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

4
140 46
Aaron Hernandez is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Aaron Hernandez age 28

5
189 91
Dennis Rodman is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Dennis Rodman age 56

6
154 80
Michael Vick is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Michael Vick age 37

7
154 84
Barry Bonds is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Barry Bonds age 53

8
152 93
Tiger Woods is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Tiger Woods age 42

9
130 73
Tonya Harding is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Tonya Harding age 47

10
88 43
Ray Rice is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Ray Rice age 28

11
84 52
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Ray Lewis age 42

12
74 40
Johnny Manziel is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Bellwoodbomb611 added Johnny Manziel age 25

13
125 80
Caitlyn Jenner is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
sageantone added Caitlyn Jenner age 66

14
125 87
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

15
128 81
Alex Rodriguez is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

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16
126 77
Pete Rose is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Pete Rose age 76

17
80 57
Luis Suárez is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Luis Suárez age 30

18
71 41
Jose Canseco is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
RobLein added Jose Canseco age 53

19
67 49
Ben Johnson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Ben Johnson age 54

20
76 50
Mark McGwire is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mark McGwire age 54

21
30 11
Colin Kaepernick is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

22
83 58
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Kobe Bryant age 39

23
56 40
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Lawrence Taylor age 58

24
61 42
Hope Solo is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
ConnorRichardson added Hope Solo age 36

25
94 85
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Muhammad Ali age 75

26
70 48
Terrell Owens is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Terrell Owens age 44

27
66 46
John McEnroe is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
John McEnroe age 56

28
50 35
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anthony Hawkins added Tom Brady age 40

29
55 36
John Rocker is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
John Rocker age 43

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30
69 50
Sammy Sosa is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Sammy Sosa age 49

31
11 3
Darren Sharper is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

32
51 44
Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Isiah Thomas age 56

33
51 44
Ty Cobb is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Ty Cobb Died at 75 (1886-1961)

34
65 59
Shoeless Joe Jackson is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Shoeless Joe Jackson Died at 64 (1887-1951)

35
57 51
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Allen Iverson age 42

36
27 20
Patrick Kane is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
doro-the-exploro-gaming added Patrick Kane age 29

37
48 43
Plaxico Burress is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

38
41 40
Sonny Liston is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Sonny Liston Died at 38 (1932-1970)

39
23 14
Paolo Di Canio is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added Paolo Di Canio age 49

40
80 78
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
LeBron James age 33

41
15 11
Jerrod Mustaf is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anna Paolinelli added Jerrod Mustaf age 46

42
16 9
Tyson Fury is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Mollevangsvagen added Tyson Fury age 29

43
50 37
Manny Ramírez is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History

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44
37 35
Zola Budd is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
james-bourne added Zola Budd age 49

45
19 13
Paul Gascoigne is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
MaikPauli added Paul Gascoigne age 48

46
38 39
Floyd Landis is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Floyd Landis age 40

47
18 14
Alberto Contador is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Fletcher Edge added Alberto Contador age 35

48
16 16
Jason Kidd is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anna Paolinelli added Jason Kidd age 44

49
29 31
Gerald McClellan is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
darren-bell added Gerald McClellan age 48

50
14 15
Jake Plummer is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History
Anna Paolinelli added Jake Plummer age 43