25 Athletes Who Have Absolutely Lost Their Minds
Being a professional athlete in a number of sports today comes with a certain level of fame and fortune that is difficult for us mortals to even imagine. There's the pressure to win, to perform at a high level, to get that lucrative, long-term deal. Most athletes won't make the Hall of Fame or break records, but manage to avoid having the kind of train wreck of career and personal life that lands them into the "Hall of Infamy." How a professional handles adversity often defines their career long after leaving the field of play. As much as the world loves a winner, it loves the comeback story, the rally, even more.
Unfortunately there are many athletes who completely fall apart when the pressure is on—mentally, physically and financially. For every story of redemption you can easily find a cautionary tale. Here are 25 athletes who have seriously lost their minds and in some cases, ruined their careers.
25. Chris Kaman
Dude has lost it: Hornets center Chris Kaman has always seemed more than a little bit off. Kaman is a fireworks and firearms enthusiast who spends his downtime preparing for Armageddon. Seriously.
Well, Kaman really outdid himself recently by posing with (and probably killing) a juvenile bobcat in honor of the Hornets playing the Bobcats.
Temporarily or Permanently: Oh this is definitely permanent. I don't think the survivalist lifestyle is just a passing fad. But thankfully I don't think he's a danger to others—he's more likely to kill himself in a fireworks incident than anything else.
24. Mike Tyson
Dude has lost it: Boxer Mike Tyson has never been accused of being in his right mind, but today he actually seems more mentally stable than ever. You know we're talking about a sliding scale when starring in a reality show about your racing pigeons is your "normal."
But Tyson is doing better—the face tattoo was a temporary setback—he hasn't been in trouble, arrested or threatened to eat anyone's children in years. It's the "Tyson Baseline"; the rest of us should try to stay well above it.
Temporarily or Permanently: I do think this is a permanent state of being for Tyson. But if he can control the crazy, it can be endearing.
23. A.J. Pierzynski
Dude has lost it: White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski strikes me as that loose cannon at the bar who is just as likely to laugh at a joke as start a fight over it. If you've ever seen the movie Trainspotting, you know the type of guy I'm referring to.
In September 2011, Pierzynski was voted the meanest player in MLB by his peers and his (then) manager Ozzie Guillen explained why, "If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less."
If Pierzynski is cranky at game time, it's probably just because he needs a drink—he recently admitted to knocking back brew during games.
Temporarily or Permanently: His craziness is sporadic and probably not permanent. Like I said, sometimes he seems kind of fun and sometimes he seems like an unpleasant psychopath.
22. Metta World Peace
Dude has lost it: Lakers forward Metta World Peace is a kinder, gentler sort than Ron Artest was in his heyday. Artest was one of the NBA's problem children until recent years and his infamous brawl while playing for the Pacers is legendary.
M.W. Peace may be more of a laid back character than Artest, but there's no question that he's still out of his mind. The ridiculous name change and his recently reported sexting saga are just two examples.
Temporarily or Permanently: M.W. Peace is absolutely and permanently certifiable. But we love him for it.
21. Brett Favre
Dude has lost it: Once one of the NFL's most beloved players, the image of (mercifully) retired quarterback Brett Favre has taken a number of hits in recent years. Seriously, who didn't wonder if The Old Gunslinger had lost his marbles in the wake of the Jenn Sterger scandal? Although, men always do stupid things when women are involved.
It was Favre's assessment of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' success in late 2011, that really left me questioning his sanity. Favre insisted Rodgers' Super Bowl success came as no surprise—the real surprise was that A-Rodge only had one Lombardi Trophy to show for his efforts—ya know, considering the talent around him.
Temporarily or Permanently: I might be completely wrong here, but I think it's just temporary. Isolated incidents brought on by triggers like pretty girls and A-Rodge. The problem is that overwhelming narcissism doesn't square off the field or outside of Wall Street.
20. Dennis Rodman
Dude has lost it: Retired NBA madman Dennis Rodman is pretty much the same guy today as he was back when he was still semi-relevant. Rodman's outrageous fashion choices, impulsive marriages and general penchant for wreaking havoc were once entertaining.
Unfortunately, now it's a whole lot sadder. Today, Rodman is said to be flat broke and suffering with addictions to both alcohol and gambling. His attorney is concerned for the client he called "extremely sick," but Rodman is coping—he was spotted gambling in Vegas just days ago.
Temporarily or Permanently: Sadly, this one is obviously permanent and very unlikely to have a happy ending. Although Rodman's many fans (myself included) are hoping for the best.
19. Gennaro Gattuso
Dude has lost it: Italian footballer Gennaro Gattuso is known as one of the most aggressive and talented defensive midfielders in the world. But he's better known as a hot-tempered lunatic.
Gattuso has been known to taunt opposing players, although his most famous incident involved an opposing coach. In early 2011, AC Milan's Gattuso choked and headbutted Tottenham's assistant coach Joe Jordan during a particularly intense match.
Gattuso earned a four-game suspension for the incident.
Temporarily or Permanently: Off the pitch Gattuso has managed to avoid trouble and is married with two children. So I'd say that, on occasion, playing football makes him temporarily insane (a trait many probably appreciate and desire).
18. LeGarrette Blount
Dude has lost it: The Buccaneers' talented, but troubled, running back LeGarrette Blount went undrafted out of Oregon because of the major character issues that surrounded him. In September 2009, Blount was suspended for the entire season for punching an opponent after the Ducks season-opening loss to Boise State.
Proving that his anger issues aren't exactly a thing of the past, in late 2011, Blount was accused of being "the leader" of an assault on two Buccaneers fans. Blount denied any involvement but refused to cooperate with the investigation—insisting that the alleged victim was just trying to extort him for cash.
17. Nyjer Morgan
Dude has lost it: Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan had brief stints in Pittsburgh and Washington—neither of which ended well—before landing in Milwaukee. Over the years Morgan (or his alter-ego Tony Plush) has been involved with confrontations with fans, the media and opposing players.
It looks like Morgan may have found a home in Milwaukee, but that doesn't mean he's on his best behavior. In October 2011, Morgan dropped a celebratory F-bomb on live television after the Brewers won their NL Division Series.
Temporarily or Permanently: I think this is permanent, but not necessarily a bad thing. Morgan's antics have been mostly harmless and (assuming nothing escalates) more entertaining than destructive.
16. John Daly
Dude has lost it: Golfer John Daly is the PGA Tour's resident creepy drunk uncle with a bad temper and a worse fashion sense. I mean seriously, there is just no excuse for almost anything Daly dons on the course.
There's also no excuse for getting drunk enough to wet yourself at Hooters, falling asleep in a flower bed and then being belligerent with the police who are just trying to get you out of the flower bed and into your own bed.
Also…relieving yourself not he golf course in full-view of cameras…not cool.
Temporarily or Permanently: Like many people with substance abuse or alcohol problems, he's a different person when on the wagon. Daly has had sober stretches, proving he has the ability to clean up and stay out of trouble.
15. Adam "Pacman" Jones
Dude has lost it: The fact that Bengals cornerback Adam Jones still has a job in the NFL is a true testament to his talent, because anyone with his record and only marginal talent would have been out on his ass years ago.
I'm not even sure how many times Jones has been arrested (it's got to be almost a dozen) but his most famous incident involved "makin' it rain" at a strip club in 2009. It seems Jones was under the impression that after you "make it rain" on a stripper, you're allowed to collect all the money back.
Naturally things got ugly. Jones assaulted a dancer, was ejected and later someone ended up shot. Yikes.
Temporarily or Permanently: We've got almost a decade's worth of evidence that suggests Pacman is a lunatic.
14. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Dude has lost it: Boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is far more likely to make headlines for doing something horrifying than anything sports related. Yes, Mayweather is undefeated and is considered one of the very best fighters in the world.
Well, he's also habitual criminal with a habit of saying really awful things. Mayweather was recently sentenced to jail time for beating and threatening the mother of his children—that wasn't the first time he had seen the inside of a courtroom and definitely won't be the last.
Temporarily or Permanently: This is permanent—there's something not right about this guy.
13. Todd Marinovich
Dude has lost it: ESPN's 2011 documentary The Marinovich Project finally provided some very welcomed context and explanation for one of the ugliest downfalls in sports history. Quarterback Todd Marinovich's behavior at USC was disconcerting and was just a glimpse of what was to come.
He was drafted by the Raiders (who else?) in the first round and he had some promising flashes early on, but he descended deeper and deeper into drug addiction. Marinovich's behavior was dangerous and unpredictable and his NFL career was over after less than two seasons.
Temporarily or Permanently: Temporary. Apparently he just never wanted to play football and the drugs were his way to deal with an overbearing father and failing to live up to expectations. Today he's doing well and making a living as an artist in California.
12. Albert Haynesworth
Dude has lost it: NFL free agent Albert Haynesworth's checkered past, on and off the field, is a matter of public record. He's been cut from three teams in less than two seasons, been suspended for stomping on someone's head, implicated in a number of serious traffic offenses and indicted on sexual assault charges.
But does that make him crazy? Probably not. Haynesworth's thoughts about the $100 million contract he signed with the Redskins—that's a totally different story. Fat Albert said that signing a contract didn't mean he was "for sale" nor did it obligate him to attend practice or play well—hell, it didn't require him to play at all because he wasn't a "slave or whatever."
Temporarily or Permanently: This is hopeless and permanent. Fat Albert is as lazy and mean as he is delusional.
11. Steve MacIntyre
Dude has lost it: Hockey is one of th most physical sports and fighting is considered by many to be a welcomed, if not revered, part of the game. In March 2012, AHL enforcer Steve MacIntyre really tested the boundaries of what's acceptable and took fighting to a whole new level.
Usually fighting is an isolated incident between two players with a beef. MacIntyre wasn't content to stop there and ended up fighting everyone on the ice (including the goalie) before being ejected from the game. It was glorious. In fact, this wasn't so much a fight, as a melee.
Temporarily or Permanently: Probably just temporary. Something obviously set MacIntyre off because there's no way you can be in that mindset 24/7 without routinely ending up in jail.
10. Gilbert Arenas
Dude has lost it: Believe it or not, NBA problem-child Gilbert Arenas is only 30 years-old—not exactly retirement age in basketball—but he's coming perilously close to being forced into early retirement. It seem the Grizzlies are willing to give Arenas another chance, but he's going to be on a short leash.
In August 2011, Arenas grabbed headlines with some offensive tweets that led to his "retirement" from Twitter. But obviously it was the armed locker room confrontation with a former Wizards teammate over a gambling debt that is likely giving potential employers pause in signing him.
9. Josh Hamilton
Dude has lost it: Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton's battle with addiction has been well publicized. He was the No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft, but his major league debut was delayed until 2007 because of his drug and alcohol problems.
Since 2007, Hamilton has been mostly sober—but has had two very public relapses. The most recent one came in early 2012 and the details of which were very salacious and an embarrassing event for his family.
Temporarily or Permanently: He temporarily lost his mind. Obviously Hamilton has more good days than bad and has been trying his best to overcome these issues.
8. Maurice Clarett
Dude has lost it: When Ohio State superstar running back Maurice Clarett lost his fight to enter the NFL draft early, you got the sense things weren't going to work out well for him. A year later he was drafted by the Broncos, who surprised everyone by selecting Clarett in the third round.
Hopefully he cherished that moment because it was the last good thing that would happen to him for almost five years. Clarett was cut by the Broncos before the start of the season and within one year he had been arrested twice for aggravated robbery and weapons chargers and was ultimately sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.
Temporarily or Permanently: Temporary. Clarett has come a very long way from what was a very ugly time in his life. He's found religion, re-enrolled at Ohio State and has even written some blogs for Bill Simmons' Grantland.
7. Joey Barton
Dude has lost it: English footballer Joey Barton has, on occasion, found himself on the wrong side of the law. That's the nicest way possible to describe his penchant for property destruction, theft and brutal acts of violence.
Temporarily or Permanently: In 2005, Barton's brother Michael was sentence to life in prison for his involvement in a racially motivated murder. I guess this stuff is just in the Barton genes—obviously a permanent state of affairs.
6. Oscar De La Hoya
Dude has lost it: Don't even get me started on disgraced boxer Oscar De La Hoya. It's hard to remember a time when this guy was thought of as anything more than a drug-addled skeez.
Remember the scandalous cross-dressing photo controversy of 2007? I wish I didn't remember it, but the images of De La Hoya in full body fishnets and high heels have forever scarred me. It was crazy that he denied the photos were him to begin with and even crazier that he finally admitted they were real in late 2011.
OMG no way! I totally believed him that whole time. Not.
Temporarily or Permanently: His awfulness could be temporary—he's obviously got a serious problem with drugs and alcohol. But who even cares anymore?
5. Latrell Sprewell
Dude has lost it: Former NBA star Latrell Sprewell came to a surprising end over a contract dispute in 2005. The Timberwolves offered him a three year deal worth $21 million and Sprewell rejected it, calling the offer "insulting" and insisted it wasn't enough to feed his family.
Naturally Sprewell is flat broke today—he's lost his houses, his yacht and things have not been going well on the home front. And it's not like he has the legacy of a great career to look back on fondly—Sprewell is best remembered as the mentally deranged player who choked his coach in 1997 before threatening to return with a gun.
Temporarily or Permanently: Sprewell's elevator doesn't seem to go to the top floor—ya know, the lights are on, but nobody's home. Although he hasn't been in the news for over a year, which could be a good sign...but probably isn't.
4. Milton Bradley
Dude has lost it: Former Mariner Milton Bradley was more trouble than he was worth throughout most of his MLB career. The combative, bordering on psychotic, Bradley was finally cut permanently in 2011.
Unfortunately he decided to spend all of his new-found free-time to terrorize his wife. In September 2011, Bradley was arrested (again) for threatening to kill his wife, allegedly producing a picture of a gun and stating "This is the gun that I'm going to kill you with."
Temporarily or Permanently: I don't have much hope for someone that would threaten the life of the mother of his two young children. Bradley is just the worst.
3. Ryan Leaf
Dude has lost it: In Ryan Leaf's defense, it cannot be easy to be Ryan Leaf. Yes, he has brought this all on himself, but he's still a human being (I think?). Imagine going through life as a living joke and widely regaled as "the biggest NFL draft bust of all time."
That being said, Leaf has absolutely lost it and I'm not sure he ever "had" it. He's been arrested countless times on countless charges—his most recent pair of arrests coming just four days apart in Montana. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad.
Temporarily or Permanently: This is forever. Wonder if it's a coincidence that his most recent brush with the law came less than two weeks after his draft class buddy Peyton Manning signed another $100 million contract?
2. Jose Canseco
Dude has lost it: Maybe all the steroids have seriously impacted former MLB slugger Jose Canseco's cognitive thinking abilities. How else can you explain some of the (beyond) ridiculous stories he's been int he middle of in recent years?
Does a sane man pay his twin brother to take his place in a celebrity boxing match, fully convinced he can get away with it? Does a sane man take to Twitter to voice his concerns about the vast conspiracy keeping him out of baseball? Does a sane man go public with his concerns about global warming and lament the loss of Al Gore…even though he's not dead?
The answer is "No."
Temporarily or Permanently: I'm not sure if Canseco has always been like this, but I don't think there's any escaping the madness at this point. This is definitely permanent.
1. Mario Balotelli
Dude has lost it: Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is, without a doubt, one of the craziest athletes in the history of sports. Balotelli's antics are legendary—his Maserati has been impounded 27 times, he's crashed his car into a women's prison on purpose and he's been fined for "pranking" youth footballers by throwing darts at them.
Balotelli will prank you alright…prank you to death. And those are just a few of dozens of stone-cold crazy incidents he's been involved in. In fact, just a few days ago he was involved in a heated locker room confrontation with a member of his own team, following a draw with Sunderland.
Temporarily or Permanently: This is the kind of uncontrollable insanity that cannot be tamed—it's just a matter of time until Balotelli finds himself in the middle of a situation that he can't buy his way out of.
Honorable Mention: Tim Tebow
Dude has lost it: No offense to Timmy Terrific or the Jets—but seriously dude, the Jets? Count me among the stunned and slack-jawed masses who were completely shocked at this very strange move.
Especially crazy was Tebow turning down an opportunity to play hometown hero and potential franchise savior for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Temporarily or Permanently: I think this one is temporary. Tebow is just young—young people are prone to bad decisions and drawn to drama.