Friday Night Plight: 10 Professional Athletes Who Ruined Their Careers

Zack Pumerantz@z_pumerantzAnalyst IIIFebruary 28, 2011

Friday Night Plight: 10 Professional Athletes Who Ruined Their Careers

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    28 Jun 1997: Mike Tyson makes his way back to the dressing room through the crowd after losing his heavyweight title fight against Evander Holyfield at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Nevada. Holyfield won the fight when referee Mills Lane disqualified
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    As players blossom and begin to fulfill the high expectations placed on them as young prospects, they reach a fork in the road.

    Some take one road and continue on their path to success and avoid illegal temptation and borderline activities.

    Many, however, go the other direction and fall into a precipice. 

    Certain athletes can't handle the media and the stardom they are close to reaching as they lose control and become asterisks in sports history books. 

    Here are ten athletes who had it all and lost sight of their priorities and their goals.

    Each having remarkable talent and vigor, they spiraled out of control and crushed their promising careers.

    The rest is for the history books. 

10. Jayson Williams' Accidental Violence

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    24 Jan 1999: Jayson Williams #55 and Sam Cassell #10 of the New Jersey Nets cheer on of the St John''s Red Storm during the game against the Duke Blue Devils at the Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. The Blue Devils defeated the Red Storm 92-88.
    M. David Leeds/Getty Images

    Taken 21st overall in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns, Williams had a mediocre career at best.

    His highlights include being accused of slamming a mug over a man's head and firing a semiautomatic weapon in a parking lot, mild occurrences compared to those of his post-NBA life. 

    Williams was taser-ed in a New York City hotel after becoming suicidal and reportedly violent. He then punched a man in the face at a bar months later and was arrested for a DWI a week before his sentencing. 

    It gets worse. 

    Williams was giving a tour of his luxurious mansion in 2002 and the shotgun he was showing accidentally went off and killed limo driver Costas Christofi. 

    The sad downfall of his busted career. 

9. Darryl Strawberry's White Trail

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    FLUSHING, NY - OCTOBER 27:  Right fielder Darryl Strawberry #18 of the New York Mets at bat during game 7 of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Shea Stadium on October 27, 1986 in Flushing, New York. The Mets won the series 4-3.  (Photo b
    T.G. Higgins/Getty Images

    While he was a star on the field, Strawberry was known more for his addictions off the field.

    His reputation was significantly crippled by his drug, legal and criminal issues later in his career. 

    Not the only Met to have a troubling career, but maybe the most renowned. 

8. Shawn Kemp's Libido

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    5 Jan 1996:  Forward Shawn Kemp of the Seattle Supersonics looks on during a game against the Orlando Magic played at the Orlando Arena in Orlando, Florida.  The Magic won the game, 115-93. Mandatory Credit: ALLSPORT USA/Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    One of the premiere players of the 1990s, Kemp brought a winning aura to the Seattle Supersonics.

    As he started to decline, he went from 250 pounds to 275 and continued to impregnate women. 

    As of 1998, Kemp had fathered seven children. 

    In 2005, Kemp was arrested for possession of cocaine, 60 grams of marijuana and a semiautomatic pistol. 

7. Plaxico Burress Shoots Down His Career

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    LEBANON - JANUARY 14: New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress warms his hands as he arrives at the Lebanon County Courthouse January 14, 2009 in Lebanon, Pa.  Burress is scheduled to appear in a civil trial in a dispute with an automobile dealer ove
    Chris Gardner/Getty Images

    It is curious as to why a player with plenty of bodyguards and immense size needs to carry a firearm.

    Either way Burress is only now trying to recreate his image and come back into the NFL after shooting himself in the leg with an illegal firearm. 

    Only time will tell whether he can reinvent himself. 

6. Ricky Williams Heads North

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    OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Ricky Williams #34 of the Miami Dolphins walks down the tunnel for their game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 28, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    When he's on the field, he is a dominant athlete and a physical running back. When he's not playing on the grass, he's smoking it. 

    Suspended four times in the NFL for smoking marijuana, he eventually retired and headed to the Canadian Football League. 

    He is now back with the Miami Dolphins and is a yoga instructor and a vegetarian. He has never defined his dedication to football.

    Could've been great. 

5. Dwight Gooden's Downfall

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    Pitcher Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets looks on during a game at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York.
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    After winning the World Series with the Mets in 1986, Gooden didn't show up to the parade. The team said he overslept.

    In the middle of a cocaine addiction, it is unlikely he overslept as he was wired for years. 

    A few years passed and Gooden was accused of rape, was arrested for drunk driving, punched his wife in the face and showed up high to a probation meeting. 

    What a talent he was.

4. Dennis Rodman's Lucky Seven

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    WUHAN, CHINA - AUGUST 12: (CHINA OUT) Former NBA star Dennis Rodman rests during an exhibition match between former NBA players and the US university students All-star Team on August 12, 2005 in Wuhan of Hubei Province, central China. Dennis Rodman is vis
    China Photos/Getty Images

    On the court he won five championships, two defensive player of the year awards and led the league in rebounding seven years in a row (he was 6'7"). 

    Off the court came the juicy stuff...

    1. Found passed out in a car in the 90s with a loaded rifle. He says it was going to be used for suicide.

    2. Began to dye his hair on a daily basis, reflective of his moods.

    3. In a game against the Timberwolves, Rodman tripped over cameraman Eugene Amos and decided to kick him in the testicles. 

    4. Following his breakup with Madonna, Rodman married Carmen Electra. They got into a domestic dispute and divorced days later.

    5. Was seen and photographed in a wedding dress. 

    6. Had another domestic dispute in a Los Angeles hotel and was sentenced to counseling and probation. 

    7. Admitted he and Michael Jordan were on different pages and weren't playing together on the court. 

3. John Daly's Love Story

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    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 30:  John Daly of the United States smokes a cigarette ahead of the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club on November 30, 2010 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
    Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

    While everyone talks about Tiger Woods problems off the course, Daly will always be known for the instability he displayed in his personal life. He was married four times, with his second and fourth marriages ending the worst. 

    First marriage: Ended in three years, somewhat subtly. 

    Second marriage: His ex-wife, Bettye Fulford, accused Daly of throwing her into a wall and he was charged with third-degree assault. 

    Third marriage: A friendly goodbye.

    Fourth and final marriage: After fighting with his wife at a restaurant, she stabbed him in the face that caused lacerations. 

    He also was an avid alcoholic, gambling addict (losing at least $50 million) and smoked cigarettes during PGA events. 

    Aside from being an overweight, wife-beating alcoholic, Daly was one of the best golfers in the world during the '90s. 

2. Pete Rose's Denial

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    1990:  Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds sitting on a bench during a game. Mandatory Credit: Allen Dean Steele  /Allsport
    Allen Steele/Getty Images

    He has the record for hits with 4,256 and is not in the Hall of Fame. It's a ludicrous statistic, but Rose brought it all on himself. 

    Arguably the best hitter of all time, Rose bet on baseball and denied it for years.

    This not only ruined his reputation, but gained him a lifetime ban from the Hall. 

1. Mike Tyson Eats Children

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    Seen as the second coming, Tyson was once seen as a better boxer than the legendary Muhammad Ali.

    It's difficult to find a starting point for all of Mike Tyson's troubles, but it all began with the biggest upset in boxing history. 

    After losing to Buster Douglas, everything went downhill for Iron Mike. 

    He sexually assault Desiree Washington and served three years in prison.

    He then came back to the ring for a rematch with Evander Holyfield. 

    This fight was significant because Tyson bit off part of Holyfield's ear and never came close to getting a championship title again. Until Lennox Lewis came along. 

    The pre-fight chatter was most talked about as Tyson said he wanted his heart and to eat his children in reference to Lewis. 

    Following his roller coaster career, Tyson got caught up in cocaine use, got two DWI charges and fought a photographer. 

    He now does small film cameos to put food on the table. 

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