The Top 10 Most Athletically Successful Drug Users

Kevin W. Ryan@@kevry88Contributor IIIJanuary 20, 2012

The Top 10 Most Athletically Successful Drug Users

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    These players truly put the "high" in highlight reel. Some of which seem to follow Ken Kesey's Bible more closely than that of Christianity (sorry, Tim Tebow). 

    Yes, kids, some of your favorite athletes growing up toe the white line. So, if your favorite player growing up gets busted on a drug charge, does it change your love for their game? How strict are laws against star athletes, anyway? If the player has a drug problem yet still competes at extremely high levels, what impact does that have on young athletes?  

    ESPN's Unguarded documentary helps address these topics and is a must see for every sports fan. In the film, former Boston Celtic Chris Herren explains his vicious battle between professionalism and drug use, and how he once left pre-game warmups to score some drugs before returning to the hardwood—because he was starting at point guard. 

    Professional sports and drugs seem to forever coincide with one another. Here are the athletes who have done it best. 

10: Darryl Strawberry (Cocaine, Pain Killers)

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    Drug of Choice: Cocaine

    Darryl's swing was so beautiful experts used to compare it to Ted Williams. 

    He had a fabulous career on the field winning four World Series rings though it was all grossly overshadowed by his off-field antics.

    Strawberry was busted for soliciting sex, possession of cocaine and reckless driving, among others.

9: Nate Newton (Marijuana)

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    Drug of Choice: Marijuana

    Nate's magic carpet ride has been nothing short of a roller coaster, making six Pro Bowls after going undrafted in 1983 then tumbling down to federal prison.

    Nate's infamous white van was stopped in Louisiana stocked full of over 200 pounds of devil's lettuce. But the three-time Super Bowl champ didn't learn his lesson.

    Five weeks later, the Big Dog was busted in Texas with 175 pounds of similar product and convicted of drug trafficking—earning 30 months in federal prison.

8: Josh Hamilton (Crack Cocaine)

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    Drug of Choice: Crack Cocaine 

    Owner of the most underrated home run in Major League Baseball history, Josh Hamilton is a can't miss story. 

    If you're just tuning in to the MLB, Josh Hamilton is pretty good. One teammate even commented: "In my eyes he's basically the chosen one. You know, there's that one kid who's chosen in a generation that's gonna be unbelievable and I think he's that kid."   

    Aside from his natural-born talent, Josh had a long and evil past battling a drug addiction.

    Hamilton's life was similar to Nate Newton, as he experienced extreme highs and lows after being chosen No. 1 overall in the 1999 MLB Draft with a nifty $4 million signing bonus, then guzzling it all down battling an addiction to various drugs and alcohol.

    After being confronted by his Grandmother and finding the light that is Jesus Christ, Hamilton surged back to the top of his game. 

    Now, Hamilton passes his drug tests three times a week and continues to carry his team to the World Series. Rick James would be proud. 

7. Todd Marinovich (All-Encompassing)

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    Drug of choice: Cocaine, marijuana, heroin 

    Sports Illustrated once dubbed Todd Marinovich as "Bred to be a Superstar" as the golden boy California gunslinger shattered all kinds of California high school records under center. 

    According to the SI piece, Marinovich's father wouldn't let his potential-filled kid eat Big Macs or Ding Dongs—you know, things any elementary school kid would love to eat to make sure Marinovich remained an ideal physical specimen. 

    While Marinovich couldn't enjoy tasty treats that his other youths could, he discovered his own "treats" as he grew in age and stature. 

    As his USC career wound down and fizzled away, he was arrested for cocaine possession prior to entering the NFL draft. Still, the then-Los Angeles Raiders weren't deterred and drafted him with their No. 24 pick in 1991. 

    Marinovich then struggled with booze, pot and used amphetamines before games and LSD afterward, because it couldn't be traced by drug tests. 

    He never lived up to his potential and ESPN threw him on their "25 Biggest Sports Flops." 

6: Tim Lincecum (Marijuana)

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    Drug of Choice: Marijuana 

    If you're not a San Francisco Giants fan, then you probably don't like Tim Lincecum. The dude will shut down any offense in the league, as proven by his two Cy Young Awards rolled up with that nice World Series ring. 

    The Seattle native was driving from Washington back to California in the 2009 offseason when he was stopped for a routine traffic violation. He admitted to having drugs on his person (3.3 grams), went to court, was given a $513 fine, and literally said to the judge: "I'll try not to let this happen again." 

    "Big Time Timmy Jim" has a recorded bench of 400 lbs and also holds the MLB record for strikeouts in the first four seasons.

    As my main man Notorious B.I.G. says, "The sky is the limit"—though Tim will try to go higher. My shirt reads "Let Tim Smoke" for that reason. 

5: Michael Irvin (Cocaine, Marijuana)

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    Drugs of Choice: Cocaine and Marijuana

    Irvin is the second most notorious athlete with legal troubles—next to OJ Simpson, of course. Though Irvin didn't hide out in a white chariot that is the Ford Bronco with all of America watching, he did find himself in numerous unexplainable situations. 

    Iron Mike was busted in a hotel room with hookers, cocaine, marijuana, and sex toys. Unfortunately, I was not invited to this party but I can imagine the fun Michael enjoyed having during his reign as Dallas' top wideout.

    Other than the numerous drug and sexual assault allegations, Irvin is responsible for five Pro Bowl trips and bringing three Super Bowl rings to Dallas—landing him in the NFL Hall of Fame and No. 92 on the list of the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of All-Time. 

4: Ricky Williams (Marijuana)

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    Drug of Choice: Marijuana

    Oh he ran alright—all the way from Texas to Miami to Grass Valley. Ricky Williams tested positive for marijuana a total of three times during his early NFL career, landing himself a $650,000 fine and a four-game suspension.

    Like the majority of us, Ricky had to choose whether or not to continue playing running back in the NFL or continue his ways of smoking weed. In the first of many moving ESPN documentaries, Run Ricky Run explains Ricky's decision to quit the NFL and enjoy his Heisman ways smoking weed in Grass Valley, California

    His high could only last so long. Ricky returned to football north of the border with the Toronto Argonauts (which apparently is some sort of Octopus, naturally making a great football mascot) and currently is getting ready to take on the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game on Sunday.  

3: Lawrence Taylor (Cocaine)

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    Drug of Choice: Cocaine

    LT was one of the most feared players in the history of the NFL. Big man went to an astonishing 10 Pro Bowls with two Super Bowl rings and was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. 

    Makes for a hell of a career. Yet, Taylor had this to say in 1987 after another drug-related suspension:

    "For me...there is a real relationship between wild, reckless abandon off the field and being that way on the field." 

    In his autobiography, Taylor admitted to using drugs as early as his rookie season in the big show, saying "coke was the only bright spot in my future". 

    It is quite unfortunate LT had such a dark time during his career because his highlight reel never gets old. 

2: Michael Phelps (Marijuana)

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    Drug of Choice: Marijuana

    You only hear his name every four years when swimming takes a global stage at the Olympics, but Phelps purely dominates all competition. Phelps tends to come home with some hardware. In the 2004 Athens games, Phelps won six Gold Medals only to win eight more at the 2008 Beijing games—seven of which broke world records. 

    Too bad mainstream media tried to cover up his historic performance because Phelps was caught taking a hit of marijuana out of a bong. His haters are right: Marijuana use tarnishes the greatest Olympic performance in the history of the world. 

    After all, the half-man half-dolphin follows a detailed diet consisting of over 15,000 calories of consumption per day—a little kick start to the appetite never hurt anyone.  

1: Dock Ellis & the LSD No-Hitter

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    Drug of Choice: LSD

    Ellis had a lengthy career in the bigs, pitching for the Pirates, Expos, A's, Rangers, Mets and Yankees—none of which more famous than his no-hitter in 1970. 

    Ellis had a day off and was granted permission to go home form San Diego to LA, perfect time for an acid trip, right? After losing track of time, a friend brought him the newspaper which read: "Starting pitcher for today's Pirates-Padres game: You, Sucka!"

    With a head full of acid, Ellis pitched a no-hitter through nine full innings in the Pirates' June 12th win over the Padres. The "Acid King" recorded eight walks and six strikeouts, claiming: "I was zeroed in on the (catcher's) glove, but I didn't hit the glove too much." 

    Though he was not pitching who he thought was "Jimi Hendrix" (and the home plate umpire was not "Richard Nixon") Ellis managed to record the greatest feat in baseball, earning himself the No. 1 spot as the most Talented Drug User in Sports History.