10 Child Athlete Stars That Couldn't Cut It As An Adult
"What you talkin' 'bout Willis?"
With the death of Gary Coleman—arguably the most successful of the stars of the '80s TV show, Diff'rent Strokes (because he did not indulge in enough drugs, sexual deviance, or the gamut of other extra-curricular activities known to his cohorts)—we remember Gary (those of us which even are old enough to remember the show) with names from present, past, and future.
Here are the ground rules for inclusion in this hall of shame presentation:
1. You can be famous as an adult and can be a professional but ended up failing in real life.
2. Drugs, crime, and ignorance are all fair game.
Just set the record straight—before the controversy starts—everybody deserves a second chance and those named here may be currently getting chances at redemption but they have so far shown that they cannot handle the responsibility of being an adult (if they are still alive).
Honorable Mention 8—Mike Tyson
Iron Mike was discovered in his pre-teen years and rose to become the youngest champion. Tyson's life, however, has been nothing but disappointment. He lost a wife due to his abusive nature (the actress Robin Givens), went to jail for rape, involved in several domestic disputes, lost his fortune to untrustworthy hangers-on, and the saddest part was losing a young daughter due to a tragic in-home accident.
Tyson was the epitome of the rise from the streets to the fall to the sewer.
Honorable Mention 7—Plaxico Burress
Plaxico, ah Plaxico. He literally shot himself—along with his career—in the foot.
Currently serving two-years for illegal gun possession, this distinguished professional athlete's first debut was at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Honorable Mention 6—Michael Vick
Michael Vick was first noticed at Homer L. Ferguson High School in Newport News, Virginia. Vick stayed in state and went to Virginia Tech eventually ending up as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL before being caught financing and participating in a dog fighting operation.
Vick is currently a backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and likely will not remain on this list as he appears to be turning his life around, but only time will tell...
Honorable Mention 5—Marcus Vick
Marcus, Marcus, Marcus... In a tribute to his brother, young Marcus stated confidently that he was better than his own brother as a quarterback.
His career was a blip on the radar as he repetitively got into legal trouble. He was dismissed from Virginia Tech's football team due to "due to a cumulative effect of legal infractions and unsportsmanlike play" and generally showed that he was not even worthy of any consideration.
Apparently those underage girls were too much for him to resist—sleeping with one and providing alcohol for several others.
Honorable Mention 4—Tonya Harding
First discovered at the age of 12, this eventual juvenile delinquent went on to attempt to have her competition assaulted to vault her position in the US skating program.
She went on to be a has-been who has been the star of her own homemade, revolting wedding night porn.
Honorable Mention 3—Felipe Lopez (Basketball)
Felipe in reality was a success but with the massive hype given to him by placing him on the cover of SI prior to going to St. John's and then just becoming an above average college player—this future basketball journeyman never lived up to what he was hyped to be in his youth.
Honorable Mention 2—Rae Carruth
Rae came out of Valley High School in Sacramento, California went to the University of Colorado then on to the Carolina Panthers.
After getting a young woman pregnant, he hired a hitman who shot his girlfriend. The baby survived with massive brain damage—the mother did not. Carruth tried to get away but ended up sentenced to 18 years and 11 months behind bars.
Honorable Mention 1—Maurice Clarett
Clarett was at one time projected to be a No. 1 draft pick. He fell out of favor with football and eventually the law.
He was just released to a halfway house April 7, 2010. Football is a distant memory and he never profited from his talent which had led Ohio State to a national championship.
10. Len Bias
Len Bias' story is one of tragedy. The hometown Maryland prospect which rose to All-American status had barely been an adult, was two days past the NBA draft (in which he was the second overall selection), when he took cocaine which caused him to die from heart failure.
9. Robert Rozier
Robert went from a 1979 NFL draft pick to becoming a cult member in the "Brotherhood."
His professional career lasted six games after a lifetime of athletic achievement. Murder, fraud, and theft were his choices—he is currently serving 25 years to life.
8. Freddy Adu
Freddy was not a criminal as much as he really did not become the god of soccer like he was touted to be as a high school athlete out of Potomac, MD. Freddy has simply disappeared into the myriad of teams that look for has-beens or like to give second chances (however brief).
7. Shaun Livingston
SI had him as the next best thing... For his orthopedist, he was the next best thing.... Injuries to this future standout (from high school to high-priority surgery...stat!... has-been have ruined a perfectly good magazine rack...
6. Sebastian Telfair
Sure he made the NBA after being named the next Michael Jordan—but his career is closer to a career backup than a second coming. Luckily, he is blending in by being mugged and speeding with a handgun. Sounds like Washington has its next locker room leader...
5. Kwame Brown
He was the next best thing. Tonight, he was the next best thing. Guess what, he never became anything compared with the hype.
Brown played in 48 games last season and started one (I guess there were enough injuries to reach that deep). The Pistons have been in a recession and so they sign Kwame.... Luckily Kwame's street cred is in tact—one accusation of rape and another of throwing cake (yeah, cake country clubbers).
Later he was arrested for driving down the wrong way on a street. Too bad he did not play overseas, because he did not have much to say after that...
4. Danny Almonte
Danny was not a criminal but was a victim of the greatest fraud in Little League history. After throwing the first perfect game since 1957 in the Little League World Series, an investigation revealed he had actually been two years too old to play in the series.
Adulthood for Danny has been bizarre. At 19, he married a 30-year-old woman who he is apparently no longer with. He has further found himself not living up to his potential and plays semi-pro ball wherever he can get a shot. Adults used him to undermine the integrity of the game of baseball at its most pure level.
3. Tamir Goodman
SI anointed him the "Jewish Jordan," and the University of Maryland nearly brought him on board but then it did not work out (controversy with Sabbath observance).
Tamir never quite lived up to the billing (ended up playing less than two years at Townson—leaving under a cloud of controversy, claiming that the program's head coach physically threatened and assaulted him).
He skipped around the basketball community and played in the respectable Israeli Professional Basketball Association though on September 16th 2009—at the ripe old age of 27—Tamir retired because he no longer was physically up to demands of the sport.
2. Kurt Henricksen
SI featured him for the early exploitation of minor athletes in 1973—well at that time it was called constructive child rearing (Deliverance with Burt Reynolds and sodomy came out around this time, too...). Henrickson was the victim of a massive accident in 1986 and went on to be a coach...just like our childhood gym teacher....
1. Reggie Harding
The father of failures—the sultan of not—Reggie founded the illustrious club which is no longer exclusive.
After this seven-footer was drafted by the Pistons in '62 (fourth round out of high school), he went on to average a paltry 9 points over four seasons, cut short by jail time, drug addiction, and—in foresight to Gilbert Arenas—concealing a firearm in his gym bag.
Similarly, he threatened to shoot the Pacers' GM and a teammate (which is where he ended up after two lackluster seasons with the Pistons)...