The Maurice Clarett story is a modern day tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.
One of the country's most highly sought-after recruits, Clarett played for Ohio State during the 2002 season as a freshman.
His 1,237 rushing yards led the Buckeyes, and he was instrumental in Ohio State's 2002 national championship run.
But problems with Clarett were evident right from the beginning.
During the game against Northwestern, cameras captured Clarett in a verbal altercation with the coaching staff on the sidelines. In December of 2002, Clarett insulted Ohio State officials to the media because, according to Clarett, Ohio State had refused to pay him to fly home for the funeral of his friend. When Ohio State countered that it never received any paperwork for such a request, Clarett bluntly called the administration liars.
After the season concluded, The New York Times ran an article regarding academic impropriety at Ohio State, including Clarett receiving preferential treatment in classes in order to keep him academically eligible. Then, before the 2003 season could even begin, Clarett was charged with filing a false police report when he claimed that over $10,000 in clothes, cash and stereo equipment was stolen from a car he was being loaned by a Columbus dealership.
When the report was proven false, Ohio State suspended Clarett for the entire 2003 season. The resulting investigation found that Clarett had received thousands of dollars in improper benefits from various individuals, including the car dealership. Clarett was later dismissed from the football team and expelled from the university.
Clarett tried to enter the 2004 NFL draft but was declared ineligible by the NFL. Clarett sued the NFL and lost, as he had not been out of high school for the required three years. After waiting the requisite year, Clarett again tried to enter the NFL but posted a 4.82 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine. In a shocking, if not bewildering, comment to the press at the combine, Clarett said, “It's a humbling thing, being humble.”
Still, to the surprise of many, if not most, Clarett was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round.
Against the advice of his agents, Clarett signed a contract that included no guaranteed money, and that proved disastrous, as the Broncos released Clarett before the preseason began.
No other NFL team ever expressed any interest in Clarett.
In August of 2006, Clarett was arrested in Columbus after he refused to yield to police. His vehicle was eventually stopped with spike strips, and Clarett had to be subdued with pepper spray and a taser and was found to be wearing body armor. Police also found swords, a loaded AK-47 and handguns and an open bottle of vodka in the vehicle.
He was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison but was released in 2010.