Professional athletes are all over the news, sports pages, and gossip rags - even the shy ones who would rather fade into the background. Because we feel like we know them, invite them into our lives, and hold them up on pedestals, it can be a shock when even the best athletes get into trouble with the law. But athletes behaving badly is nothing new and some of the illegal and outlandish antics they get up to can be pretty crazy.
Professional athletes think they can push the envelope, break the law, get away with murder - and some of them do. Others just do ridiculous things that get them arrested and make you ask "what where they thinking?"
Dock Ellis, pitcher for the Pittsburg Pirates, threw a no-hitter on June 12, 1970. What people didn't know was that he was tripping on LSD at the time. Ellis was no stranger to drugs, he'd been pitching on pills since he played in the minor leagues, but the day of the no-hitter caught up with him. Ellis took several hits of LSD on his day off, and, when it was time for the team's next game game, his manager had to call and tell him to get to the field. As for his time on the mound, Ellis said:
"I really didn’t see the hitters. All I could tell was if they were on the right side, or the left side. As far as seeing the target, the catcher put tape on his fingers so I could see the signals. The opposing team and my teammates, they knew I was high. But they didn’t know what I was high on. They didn’t really see it, but I had the acid in me, and I didn’t know what I looked like with that acid. I had lost all concept of time."
Age: Died at 63 (1945-2008)
Birthplace: Los Angeles, USA, California
In 2016, former MLB outfielder Darryl Strawberry told a radio talk show host that he used to have sex with fans in between innings as well as drink and smoke in the dugout. That's only part of the story. Strawberry had a long history of drug abuse and arrests. His first run-in with the law took place in Tampa, FL after he was found with cocaine and tried to solicit sex from an undercover cop in 1999. He was suspended from baseball and received probation and community service from the court.
The following year, he passed out while driving, high on pain killers due to his cancer treatments, hit another car, and tried to flee the scene. He was arrested at gun-point and taken to jail. In 2001, Strawberry was arrested after he showed up at a Tampa hospital after having been missing for several days from his court-ordered rehab. He was in and out of rehab in 2001 and 2002, a testament to his extreme drug habit.
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America
In 2013, former Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd was sentenced to fifteen years in prison on federal drug charges. Hurd played for the Dallas Cowboys for five years and signed with the Bears in 2011, but they quickly cut ties with him when it was revealed that he'd been trying to set up a drug ring in Chicago.
Hurd met with three Mexican drug dealers - actually undercover FBI agents posing as dealers - and arranged to have 50 kilograms of cocaine brought to Chicago each week. He walked out of that meeting carrying a brick of cocaine and was arrested. He indicted in January 2012 and let out until his trial later in the year. While out, he got arrested for failing drug tests and attempting to buy drugs in Texas in August 2012. At his trial in November 2013, he plead guilty to conspiracy charges and is serving his sentence in Texas. In 2015, he asked for a sentence reduction.
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States of America
Tonya Harding really wanted to win but there was one thing standing in her way - Nancy Kerrigan. The 1991 national champion figure skater - the first ever to complete a triple axel in competition - tried to hire a hitman to kill Kerrigan in 1994 prior to the national championship competition. Harding and her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, plotted to get rid of the competition. They hired Shane Stant who wounded Kerrigan by hitting her with a metal baton, bruising her kneecap and thigh. Harding went on to win but was stripped of her title after the conspiracy was revealed. Kerrigan, despite her injury, won silver.
Both Stant and his get-away driver, Shawn Eckhardt, went to jail for their role in the attack, as did Gillooly. Harding served no jail time due to a plea bargain but received probation and ruined her career. She later became a boxer.
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon, United States of America