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
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
Sally McNeil Dropped A 70 lb. Weight On The Roof Of A Car
Bodybuilder Sally McNeill was prone to violence. She had a volatile relationship with her first husband, reportedly pulling a gun on him and dropping a 70 lb. weight off of a balcony onto his car. Her second husband, fellow bodybuilder Ray McNeill, cheated on her often and in 1990, she attacked one of his girlfriends, pinning "her to the floor and began raining blow after blow on the victim’s face before she was dragged off." When Sally was asked to stop dancing on the table at a bar in Allentown, PA in 1993, she kicked the bouncer in the face three times and became irate. It took three cops to subdue her.
On Valentine's Day in 1993, Sally and Ray had their last fight. The two fought over where Ray had been during the evening and, during the exchange, Sally walked to the closet, pulled out a shotgun, and fired a shot at Ray's abdomen. When he fell to his knees, she then shot him in the head. Sally was convicted of murder, despite her claims that she was acting in self defense.