It's not often I'm stunned by a sports-related scandal—over the years, the bar for outrageous conduct has been pushed out of the stratosphere by these millionaire men-children in various states of arrested development.
Alex Rodriguez' steroid revelation, the same about Sammy Sosa, Michael Vick's dogfighting ring, Plaxico Burress' metaphor, the ongoing saga of Jayson Williams—none of these things really moved the needle in my opinion.
They're all ridiculous instances worthy of tip-tapping away on the keyboard for a while (possibly numerous times), but twist the lens a bit. Widen the scope to include the last couple of decades.
Then, you'll see some real psychopaths—not these insecure clowns whose stupidity and detachment from normal society sometimes lands them within reach of the law's long arm.
People (and I use that term very loosely) like Orenthal James Simpson, who hacked to death two fellow human-beings regardless of what the jury said. You know the story, but I'd emphasize that I hope to never meet anyone capable of stabbing a living thing over 30 times.
Or Rae Carruth, who paid hitmen to kill his pregnant girlfriend and helped in the deed. His girlfriend died of gunshot wounds while his daughter was born prematurely and in distress, resulting in cerebral palsy.
These are not crimes with a humorous undercurrent or merely the product of stupidity/conceit.
These are not spoiled brats run astray.
They are unforgivable atrocities courtesy of truly depraved sacks of flesh.
And, apparently, we can add Lee Murray to the list.
If you've never heard of the former mixed martial artist, you're not alone. When I initially read the link, it was the first athletes-gone-wild story that floored me in quite some time and my total ignorance as to Murray's existence was part of the reason.
From what I can tell, Lightning was a legitimate and improving threat in the arena before absconding with $92 million worth of British currency in 2006.
Most of his victories were over no-name scrubs and a loss to Joe Doerksen isn't grounds for bragging.
However, the imprisoned fugitive did tally wins over Jose Landi-Jons and Jorge Rivera. Pele isn't a world-beater and neither is El Conquistador, but both have notched some quality wins simultaneously proving to be dangerous opponents.
Nevertheless, Murray's last fight at Cage Rage 8 in 2004 was his most impressive.
Anyone who dances for three, five-minute rounds with Anderson Silva and is still vertical at the end should be taken seriously. It's not often a unanimous decision defeat justifiably puffs out your chest, but the Spider is not your typical foe (even back then).
Which makes the rest of the tale so odd.
Here was a guy who had just taken out two quality opponents and lost to one of his division's elite antagonists, yet decides to author the largest bank robbery the world has ever seen. And the big plan is to storm a secure vault while heavily armed after kidnapping and holding as hostages a guard's family of three.
I understand nobody was hurt or died in the process so it might sound sensationalistic to toss the former up-and-comer in with those other animals.
That all involved emerged relatively unscathed was pure, unadulterated luck.
Anyone who grabs human collateral and takes a run at a facility protected by more bodies has already decided to kill should the occasion arise. Nothing Murray and friends brought to the situation defused the prospect of bloodshed, so he gets no quarter (again, in my opinion).
Furthermore, Lightning Lee's criminal peak didn't come out of the blue.
Some will argue the robbery was only an option because Murray's trip to the UFC had been derailed by a felony arrest for road rage after almost beating another driver to death. Of course, he'd first gained prominence by stomping out Tito Ortiz in a street fight and almost died after being stabbed in the lung during another such altercation.
None of this went over swimmingly with authorities in the United States of America, who promptly denied the UFC's rising star a work visa.
Nah, it's safe to lump Lee Murray in with that special group of sincerely dangerous souls who somehow got blessed with incredible natural talents and capabilities. Then, just like the others, he decided to pour gasoline all over 'em and light the sucker.
And all because he wanted to be a gangster, a genuine notorious character.
Well, he did it—at least for a week or two. And I hope Lightning enjoys it.
Because I'm guessing nobody will ever use Lee Murray and the present tense again.