The 40 Nastiest Divorces in Sports History
The road to sports glory is littered with relationship road kill, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Much like the train wreck, the car crash or the comedic stylings of Dane Cook, there are some divorces that are so graphic and awful that it’s impossible to look away.
The truth is nasty public breakups make us feel better about our lives while giving us the opportunity to pass judgment on people who almost certainly think they’re better than us. Basking in the salacious details of someone else’s embarrassing failure is the new American Dream.
Ultimately, witnessing these divorces is a cathartic experience for the general public because often in life there's nothing better than watching someone get exactly what they deserve.
Oh, and every sports fan knows that when you engage in battle—someone must emerge victorious. Well, every sports fan who isn't MLB commissioner Bud Selig.
Let’s take a lighthearted romp through sports' messiest divorces and determine who came out on top.
40. Brad Childress & Minnesota Vikings
When the Vikings were stopped one game (heck, one play!) short of the Super Bowl, the decision to bring in Brett Favre for the 2009 NFL season looked like a genius move. A season later, when the Vikings were 3-7 in mid-November and Favre looked every bit his 40 years, it looked substantially less genius. Childress, who had reportedly lost the support of his team, was eventually canned.
So who won? It was a temporary victory for Chilly because he still got paid, but the Vikings will probably come out on top.
39. Joe Montana & Kim Moses
Joe Montana and Kim Moses divorced way back in 1977, and he has been married to his third wife, Jennifer Wallace, since 1985. This was a relatively amicable split until 2008, when Montana sued Moses for "violating his copyright and privacy rights" after she sold love letters and sports memorabilia from his college days at Notre Dame.
So who won? Montana, because in real life sometimes the bad guy wins.
38. Jay Cutler & Josh McDaniels
In 2009, Josh McDaniels was hired to replace Mike Shanahan in Denver, but his relationship with starting QB Jay Cutler was strained from day one, which led to Cutler being traded to the Chicago Bears before the season began.
So who won? McDaniels lasted less than two losing seasons, and Cutler was one game short of the Super Bowl in 2011.
37. Tiki Barber & New York Giants
Tiki Barber retired after the 2006 season as the best offensive player in Giants history, but fans didn’t exactly throw him a parade to show their gratitude. Barber’s midseason retirement announcement looked even worse when the Giants underachieved the rest of the season.
The following September, after Barber insisted Tom Coughlin’s job was in jeopardy, he was mercilessly booed at his induction into the Giants’ Ring of Honor. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl that year, and nobody looked lonelier than Tiki Barber.
So who won? Barber’s career has been in a death spiral for years. Advantage Giants.
36. Ryan Leaf & San Diego Chargers
Oh, Ryan Leaf, you would have had a shot at a career if you weren't such an arrogant, awful human being.
Even without your own personal failings, the stars were aligned against you because Peyton Manning, perhaps the greatest pure QB of all time, was chosen No. 1 overall, and then San Diego traded two first-round picks and Super Tecmo Bowl speedster Eric Metcalf for you...Ryan Leaf.
So who won? Ryan Leaf hasn’t won at anything since college.
35. Steve Nash & Alejandra Amarilla
In November 2010, hours after the birth of their third child, Steve Nash announced that his five-year marriage with Alejandra Amarilla was over.
Rumors in Phoenix suggested the divorce was due to Amarilla’s affair with Nash teammate Leandro Barbosa and that the child was not his. Barbosa, a fan favorite, was traded months later.
So who won? Steve Nash is as baller as ever.
34. JaMarcus Russell & Oakland Raiders
33. Shaquille O'Neal & Shaunie Nelson
It took nearly three years to finalize their divorce, and each accused the other of cheating, the most salacious accusation being that Shaq was shacking up with the fiancé of then-Wizards star Gilbert Arenas.
32. Charlie Weis & Notre Dame
Weis actually was given five seasons at Notre Dame before being fired for failing to live up to the unrealistic expectations of a school that refuses to accept the fact that its days of dominating are over, permanently.
So who won? Charlie Weis because he got out of a no-win situation with a pile of dough.
31. Halle Berry & David Justice
Halle Berry and the Atlanta Braves’ David Justice were married in 1993 but separated just three years later amid allegations of physical abuse. Berry has said that the emotional and physical abuse was brutal and the relationship was so bad that she considered suicide.
So who won? The fact that I only know Justice as the douche that beat up Halle Berry should tell you something.
30. Babe Ruth & Boston Red Sox
So the Boston Red Sox are no longer the cursed and pathetic, yet lovable, losers of MLB. So what? They can win every World Series for the next decade, and there won't be a fan in Boston who puts the Curse of the Bambino behind them.
We all know the story. Babe Ruth, who had played the previous six seasons for the Red Sox, was sold to the rival New York Yankees to finance a Broadway play.
29. Michael Strahan & Jean Muggli
The Strahans' divorce is one of the ugliest ever and took nearly three years to finalize, and Jean ended up with about half of Michael’s $25 million fortune.
He said she was a gold digger who was stealing money from him and wouldn’t let him purchase a house for his parents.
She said he was a physically abusive cheater with an alternative lifestyle who walked out on his wife and newborn twin daughters.
So who won? Today Strahan (who has trust issues) is engaged to Eddie Murphy’s ex-wife Nicole Murphy, who blew through a $15 million divorce settlement in less than four years. She has IRS and legal debts that top $1.5 million and put her house on the market in 2010 when she couldn't make the payments.
All evidence suggests Michael is going to lose the other half of his fortune by 2015, meaning Jean wins.
28. Michael Jordan & Juanita Vanoy
The Jordans had a pretty good run before divorcing in 2007 after 17 years of marriage. The pair kept things superficially amicable, and the details of the divorce were kept quiet; however, infidelity rumors dogged His Airness for years.
Ultimately Juanita walked away with $168 million in cold hard cash.
So who won? MJ might have parted with $168 million, but there’s plenty more where that came from. He’s currently dating a model half his age.
27. Frank McCourt & Jamie McCourt
The owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers have been engaged in a divorce battle that has been going on since 2009.
It was revealed that they took out more than $100 million in personal loans from the Dodgers, which recently led MLB commissioner Bud Selig, pictured, to veto the Dodgers' $3 billion TV deal with Fox Sports to prevent the money from being part of the divorce settlement.
26. Mike Tyson & Robin Givens
They married in February of 1988. Givens filed for divorce in October of 1988.
She said he’s psychotic, he’s drug-addled, he’s abusive, he’s homicidal, he’s suicidal, he’s a maniac who chugs down glass after glass of vodka and threatens to kill her, her mother and/or himself and he breaks dishes.
He said she’s a gold digger, and the marriage should be annulled because she lied about being pregnant.
25. Tiki Barber & Ginny Barber
Tiki Barber truly has a gift. He has the ability to turn relatively normal occurrences, like divorce or retirement, into a full-on public relations nightmare. Why just leave your wife when you can leave your wife for a 23-year-old intern, pictured, when your wife is eight months pregnant with twins?
So who won? Ginny by a mile. She got his money and his dignity, and she got to watch him compare himself to Anne Frank on national television.
24. Steve Phillips & His Wife, His Job, His Dignity
An affair with a 22-year-old production assistant wouldn’t usually be enough to completely ruin someone’s life. Unfortunately for Steve Phillips, a repeat offender, he had a few things working against him.
Twelve years ago, when Phillips was working as the Mets’ GM, he admitted having sex with a team employee who eventually sued him for sexual harassment—one of the many affairs he eventually admitted to.
So who won? Mrs. Phillips because she lost 200 pounds of dead weight.
23. Bobby Petrino & Atlanta Falcons
In 2007 Bobby Petrino unceremoniously bolted from Atlanta after only 13 games. Petrino fled the Falcons after a particularly bad loss to the Saints on a Monday night. By Tuesday night he was at a press conference in Fayetteville being announced as the new head coach at the University of Arkansas.
Petrino took the high road out of Atlanta, leaving in the middle of the night without alerting any of his assistants or players.
So who won? The Falcons, who, you may remember, were 1.5 games away from the Super Bowl last year.
22. Dwyane Wade & Siohvaughn Funches
Funches, who fired nine lawyers during the course of her divorce proceedings, claimed in legal documents that Wade gave her chlamydia. D-Wade’s relationship with actress Gabrielle Union added fuel to Siohvaughn’s fire.
So who won? He may have lost the NBA championship, but he won in the divorce. He got full custody of his kids and Gabrielle Union.
21. Terrelle Pryor & Ohio State University
This split was ugly and could potentially get worse. Pryor is said to have violated NCAA rules and earned as much as $40,000 in a single year.
On June 7, 2011, one week after Tressel’s resignation, Pryor announced he would not be returning to OSU for his senior season.
So who won? Duh. Michigan fans!
20. Joe Montana & San Francisco 49ers
Joe Montana’s career with the 49ers was legendary, but the way his career was decidedly ordinary.
In 1991, his career began its decline, and injuries kept him out of the next two seasons. Montana did get healthy eventually, but by that time Steve Young had replaced him. In 1993, amid rumors that he was feuding with Young and coach George Seifert, Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.
He did fine in Kansas City, but nobody wanted to see a 37-year-old Montana playing with the Chiefs.
So who won? The 49ers carried on just fine without him, which obviously irritated Montana. Too bad Brett Favre didn’t learn from his mistake.
19. Alex Rodriguez & Cynthia Scurtis
We all know the story. A-Rod cheated on his wife with Madonna, which understandably led Cynthia to the edge of a nervous breakdown. He even bailed on his kids on Thanksgiving, choosing to spend the holiday with the aged (and married) pop icon.
So who won? Sure, A-Rod is still a big star making loads of cash, but guess what else he still is! He’s a douche who allegedly has a self-portrait above his bed that depicts him as a centaur.
Mrs. Rod got a huge divorce settlement and the win!
18. Lane Kiffin & Al Davis
In 2007 Davis was on the hunt for a new head coach, as he has been every 12 to 18 months for the last decade, and eventually hired Lane Kiffin. The Raiders were predictably awful that year, and Davis predictably went off the deep end with crazy.
In January 2008, he wrote Kiffin’s resignation letter and tried to cajole the coach into signing it and thereby forfeiting the $2 million guaranteed salary he had left on his contract.
So who won? Al Davis waited a full eight months to fire his head coach (over the phone) after the letter incident, and during a particularly bizarre press conference he, without a hint of irony, blamed Kiffin for “bringing disgrace to the organization.”
Lane Kiffin is the worst, but Al Davis just loses at life these days.
17. Dennis Rodman & Carmen Electra
These two crazy kids married in 1998 after an all-night bender in Las Vegas. Two weeks later Rodman filed for an annulment, citing the fact that he was of “unsound mind” when they married.
Two arrests for domestic violence later, Electra filed for divorce, ending their six months of wedded bliss.
So who won? People who enjoy an embarrassing spectacle, that’s who.
16. Wayne Gretzky & Canada
About 20 years ago, after having won four Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, Wayne Gretzky did the unthinkable. He sat down at a nationally televised press conference and tearfully broke up with his native Canada—and Canada did not take it well.
The Great One was dubbed a traitor, and papers speculated his wife, "Jezebel Janet," pressured him to move to Hollywood to further her acting career.
So who won? In Canada, losing one valuable citizen is like losing a million in the United States (exchange rate is approximate), which means the Great One wins again.
15. Jason Kidd & Joumana Kidd
Jason and Joumana Kidd were together for 10 years before he filed for divorce in 2007.
She said he drinks, gambles, cheats, ignores his kids and he beats me!
He said this b*tch is crazy.
So who won? Jason Kidd of the world champion Dallas Mavericks is already engaged to a model who retired to have his baby and be his wife. Big surprise.
14. Nick Saban & Miami Dolphins
Nick Saban’s tenure in Miami was remarkable. Remarkably awful. The Dolphins were an unimpressive 15-17 over his two seasons as head coach. He chose Daunte Culpepper as their QB of the future over Drew Brees. His authoritarian style did not go over well with the veterans, and he eventually lost control of the locker room.
On Dec. 21, 2007, he issued the following statement: "I guess I have to say it. I'm not going to be the Alabama coach. ... I don't control what people say. I don't control what people put on dot-com or anything else. So I'm just telling you there's no significance, in my opinion, about this, about me, about any interest that I have in anything other than being the coach here."
He left Miami for Alabama 14 days later.
In 2010, he finally decided to make amends and apologized for how he left Miami in a way that only the ninth-most hated person in sports could. The headline on NBC Miami sums it up perfectly: "Nick Saban Is Sorry His Honesty and Integrity Upset You, Miami."
So who won? Let’s just say it wasn’t the Dolphins.
13. Tony Parker & Eva Longoria
And they said it wouldn't last. Oh wait, it didn't.
Eva just happens to be BFFs with A.C. Slater, who I realize is no Zack Morris, but still. What kind of smokin' hot, 36-year-old single woman is best friends with a smokin' hot 37-year-old man? Allegedly.
So who won? You spare me the "Oh, she's not all that without makeup" garbage, and I'll spare you the "Oh, he's lucky he's a professional athlete" garbage.
They'll both be fine.
12. Shaq & Kobe
When the Lakers drafted Kobe Bryant out of high school, Shaq, who had an unnatural hatred of him from day one, was quoted as saying, “I’m not gonna be babysitting,” and that was the high point of their relationship.
Shaq’s Kobe beef (ha!): He’s selfish, a showboater, too physical with teammates during practice, he steals the spotlight, he forces the offense and he was the reason the Lakers didn’t re-sign him.
Kobe’s Shaq beef: He’s lazy, he’s fat, he’s jealous, he turned teammates against Kobe, he forced the team to dumb down the offense, he can’t take criticism, he quit during games and he's allergic to defense.
After Shaq was traded in 2003, Bryant, while being questioned by police, inexplicably told them that O’Neal would pay women up to $1 million to stay quiet about their affairs.
Shaq denied it and countered by accusing Kobe of buying love, referring to the “Sorry I was accused of rape” diamond he bought for his wife.
It turned out that Kobe was probably telling the truth.
So who won? Hey Shaq, tell us how Kobe’s ass tastes.
11. Pete Rose & Major League Baseball
Legendary liar and all-around bad person Pete Rose was banned from baseball in 1989 for defiling America’s pastime. Since then, he has done nothing to redeem himself, unless you count “coming clean” in a book he was paid to write.
Rose, now 70, recently divorced his wife of nearly 30 years and is now dating glamour model Kiana Kim.
So who won? As long as Rose isn’t reinstated, Major League Baseball gets the W.
10. Manny Ramirez & Boston Red Sox
Manny’s falling-out with the Red Sox was pretty epic, and by the summer of 2008 it had reached a boiling point. Of course, it all stemmed from a contract dispute because $20 million per season just wasn’t enough to make ends meet for Manny.
Eventually the Red Sox had no choice but to trade him.
So who won? Manny got his way at the time, but given his recent, and predictably disgraceful, retirement from baseball after another suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, what goes around does come around apparently.
Red Sox win.
9. Lisa Lopes & Andre Rison
OK, so they weren't married, but in 1994, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of R&B group TLC and Andre Rison of the Atlanta Falcons were seriously dating, and their combustive relationship really got messy.
On June 8th, 1994, the couple had been involved in a heated argument that ended when Lopes started a fire in an upstairs bathroom; the fire spread quickly, and the mansion burned to the ground.
So who won? When domestic abuse and felony arson are involved, everybody loses.
8. Reggie Bush & USC
What Reggie Bush got out of his time at USC: a Heisman Trophy-winning college career, $280,000 in cash and prizes, a home for his family, a national championship, limousine rides, national acclaim, being picked second in the NFL draft and receiving a monster contract from a team that eventually won a Super Bowl with him—and of course, Kim Kardashian.
What USC got: Its coach resigned, its championship was stripped, loss of 30 scholarships, a two-year ban on postseason play, 14 wins vacated from its record, recruiting problems, Lane Kiffin and national scorn.
So who won? Reggie Bush won in what might be the most lopsided victory ever.
7. Chuck Finley & Tawny Kitaen
Tawny Kitaen was the premier video vixen of the '80s, but today she’s known for her messy divorce from retired MLB pitcher Chuck Finley in 2002.
She said he uses steroids, drinks and smokes marijuana.
He said she’s crazy enough to beat me with a stiletto heel—statements cannot be trusted.
So who won? Ironically, it was Kitaen who ultimately faced drug charges. In 2006 she was caught with 15 grams of cocaine in her home, and in 2009 she was arrested for driving under the influence.
Sorry Tawny, you lose again.
6. Michael Vick & Arthur Blank (and the Atlanta Falcons)
Everyone knows the Michael Vick story by now. He deservedly went to jail, and now he’s deservedly playing football again; there’s no need to get into it.
The split with the Falcons was also ugly because of the relationship that Vick shared with Falcons owner Arthur Blank before it soured.
The following excerpt really tells the story:
Vick had snapped his right fibula during a preseason game three weeks earlier, and he was still wearing a black nylon-and-Velcro walking cast. Instead of making his way to the sideline on crutches, though, Vick emerged from the visitors' tunnel in a wheelchair pushed by a man with a tailored suit, gold cufflinks and what can only be described as an inappropriately giddy expression. It was Falcons owner Arthur Blank. And the only thing odder than his expression was the fact that Vick had the exact same look on his face.
So who won? The Falcons went through a tough patch but are on track now. Meanwhile, Vick is enjoying career resurgence, having returned to the NFL upon completing his sentence. Vick deservedly suffered a lot more, but ultimately they both win.
5. Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio
The unlikely pair eloped in January of 1954, and Monroe filed for divorce eight months later amid accusations of violence between the pair, who had frequently engaged in heated public arguments.
The two remained close, and it’s believed that the two planned to remarry just days prior to her death in 1962.
So who won? We all lost.
4. Terrell Owens & Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo
When it comes to breaking up, nobody does it quite like T.O. He comes in like a lion and goes out like a nuclear winter.
Imagine this scenario: You’re the CEO of a company with a very high tolerance for douche behavior, and you decide to take a chance on a problematic hotshot. In the first year he’s involved in a bizarre and public drug overdose incident, he’s taken up spitting on his co-workers and his mere presence is the catalyst for the retirement of your legendary no-nonsense senior manager.
Over the next two years, he manages to completely obliterate company morale by telling anyone who would listen that the reason he is bad at his job is because everyone is out to get him. Three years later your company is an embarrassing shell, and everyone is saying, “I told you so.” You finally fire this guy.
Now imagine that you got off easy compared to the guys that hired him in San Francisco and Philadelphia.
So who won? Well. Jeff Garcia never again worked in a place where he wasn't the last resort, Donovan McNabb isn't good enough for the Redskins and Tony Romo is still getting dogged by T.O. in the media.
T.O. still loves him some him. Any chance these other guys can say that about themselves?
3. Brett Favre & Green Bay Packers
The prudent Packers decided to draft Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 NFL draft in the hopes that he could learn from a master for a few years and give Favre the opportunity to gracefully walk away a hero who taught the heir to the throne everything he knows.
There’s no way that a living legend would overstay his welcome and be hobbling around the field while dodging sexual harassment allegations, right?
Has anyone ever suffered a fall from grace quite like Brett Favre? At least Tiger Woods was having affairs with consenting parties, not just sending them pictures of his golf club. Favre retired a beaten and embarrassed old man amid a slew of sexual misconduct allegations and a sea of Internet pictures of his wang.
2. Tiger Woods & Elin Nordegren
Tiger Woods' downfall is absolutely legendary. It started after Thanksgiving as he left his Orlando-area home around 2:30 a.m. in his SUV, a 2009 Cadillac Escalade—Woods hit a hedge, a fire hydrant and finally a tree just down the street from his house—and it continued through his most recent abysmal performance at a major.
His divorce from Elin Nordegren cost Tiger over $100 million in one of the most expensive separations in sports history.
So who won? Sure, Elin walked away with a massive pile of cash and public opinion firmly on her side. Guess who got to live a fantasy for years, has more money than God, a younger, blonder girlfriend and now the weight of professional expectations off his shoulders?
You guessed it. Tiger. Freaking. Woods.
1. LeBron James & Cleveland Cavaliers
Nobody is surprised that Cavs fans are mad about LeBron abandoning them and taking his talents to South Beach. And they are mad. Very mad. The fact that anyone in the world was actually shocked by "The Decision"—now that’s a surprise.
Ohio native LeBron has said his favorite teams growing up were the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bulls—doesn’t that tell you something about this guy? LeBron doesn’t care about his hometown, he doesn’t care about loyalty and he sure as heck doesn’t care about hurt feelings.
He cares about winning. Period.
So who won? Cavs fans won the battle, but LeBron will probably win the war.