6 Athletes and Their Shocking Crimes

6 Athletes and Their Shocking Crimes

Why do we admire professional athletes so much? Is it the hard work and determination that leads them to greatness? The raw physical capacity symbolizing humanity's ability to triumph in the face of adversity? That fact that so many of them are easy on the eyes?

Whatever the case, it can be disappointing, disheartening, and often painful to discover that the pro athletes we love are capable of some truly dark crimes. Here are six athletes who faced justice after participating in nefarious behaviors.

1. Orenthal James 'O.J.' Simpson

The sport: One of the greatest running backs in history, O.J. Simpson was named All-American and won the Heisman Trophy during his college career. When he advanced to the NFL, he set the record in 1973 for most single-season rushing yards at 2,003 (a record for 11 years). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility in 1985.

6 Athletes and Their Shocking Crimes

The crime: O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the 1994 murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in one of the most watched and debated criminal trials of the 20th century (he was later found civilly liable for their deaths). However, he was arrested again in 2007 for armed robbery and kidnapping.

The punishment: In 2008, Simpson was found guilty of armed robbery and kidnapping and served nine years in prison. He was paroled in 2017.

2. Aaron Hernadez

The sport: Hernandez signed a $40 million contract with the New England Patriots in 2013, which paired the tight end with the legendary Rob Gronkowski in what was supposed to be an unstoppable duo.

aaron hernandez

The crime: Just two years later, Hernandez was arrested and convicted of the first-degree murder of his friend Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro footballer. He was also connected to, but not charged with, a double homicide in Florida in 2007. Additionally, he was charged but not convicted in a 2012 drive-by shooting double homicide.

The punishment: Hernandez was already serving his sentence for Lloyd's murder when he took his own life in prison in 2017. An autopsy by Boston University determined he suffered from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), possibly the result of dozens of head and brain injuries.

3. Tonya Harding

The sport: Harding was an ice skater of great skill; she was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition. She placed 4th in the 1992 Winter Olympic Games and won gold at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Tonya Harding

The crime: In 1994, Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and her bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt hired a hitman to attack and cripple Harding's chief skating rival, Nancy Kerrigan. The injuries to her leg were severe enough to force Kerrigan to drop out of the U.S. Championships, although she would recover enough to win silver in the 1994 Olympic Games one month later. How much Harding knew is subject to debate, but she would plead guilty to "conspiracy to hinder prosecution" for covering up Gillooly's involvement.

The punishment: Harding's gold medal was revoked, and she received a lifetime ban from competitive skating for her involvement in the attack on Kerrigan. She also served three years of probation and paid a $160,000 fine.

4. Clifford Etienne

The sport: Clifford "The Black Rhino" Etienne was a heavyweight boxer with a fairly impressive record (29-4-2, 20 KO) whose career culminated in a 2003 bout with Mike Tyson in what would end up being the very last victory Tyson would find in the ring. Tyson knocked Etienne out in 49 seconds in the first round.

The crime: In 2005, Etienne was arrested for armed robbery, kidnapping, and the attempted murder of a police officer.

The punishment: Etienne is currently serving a 105-year sentence. In prison, he has found meaning in painting and being a barber.

5. Oscar Pistorius

The sport: Oscar Pistorius was born a double amputee due to a congenital disability but went on to have a hugely successful career as a runner. Using carbon fiber prosthetic legs, he competed in the 2012 Paralympics and Olympics, earning multiple gold medals in the Paralympics for his native South Africa.

Oscar Pistorius

The crime: On Valentine's Day, 2013, Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He claimed he thought she was a burglar as part of his defense

The punishment: Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide (the South African equivalent of manslaughter), which was later changed to murder. He served seven years of his sentence before being paroled in 2024.

6. Michael Vick

The sport: Michael Vick was the star quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, where he became the model for running quarterbacks. In fact, he still holds the NFL record for rushing yards as a quarterback.

Michael Vick

The crime: In 2007, Vick pleaded guilty to funding a dog fighting ring, gambling on the fights, and participating in the killing of several dogs.

The punishment: Vick served 21 months in federal prison and was released by the Falcons. However, he would return to the NFL in 2009 as the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

References: O.J. Simpson: American football player | Aaron Hernandez timeline: From murders and trials to prison suicide | Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan: A Complete Timeline of Kerrigan's Attack and Aftermath | Tonya Harding | 20 Years Ago Today: Mike Tyson Vs Clifford Etienne | Oscar Pistorius and the Valentine's killing of Reeva Steenkamp. What happened that night? | Vick Pleads Guilty in Dog-Fighting Case | Eagles Ex Michael Vick Reflects on Prison Time, Reveals 'My Wish!'

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