25 Worst Athlete Criminals of All Time

1 of 26

25 Worst Athlete Criminals of All Time

Joe Raedle - Getty Images

Every once in a while, the fame and fortune of playing in a professional sport can get to someone. Other times, things just get out of hand. No matter the case, there's no doubt there have been many criminals within the sporting world over the years. Some have been worse than others, but we've seen some pretty disturbing news about some of our favorite players.

Crime, no matter what the degree, is detrimental to society, but some of the athletes included on this list went past normal crime. Some committed acts so heinous that it's hard to imagine they were ever viewed in a positive light in the world of sports. All of these people have been indicated or convicted of a crime and all of them have played in a major professional sport.

As the list goes on, the crimes tend to get more severe or more famous. Therefore, try not to judge the list simply based on views of different crimes as all of these athletes have committed a crime in one way or another. However, as the list rolls on, the severity of crimes does get worse and that will be noticeable. Also, the period of incarceration isn't necessarily the only indicator of how "bad" a criminal athlete was because the justice system doesn't always do the best job when high-profile characters are involved.

These athletes cross various sports and various lifestyles. The sport they played also doesn't determine how "bad" of a criminal they are. Everyone is considered under the sporting world umbrella and all crimes are considered on their own, regardless of sport. It's a shame that athletes like this have given sports a bad name, but the sporting world has learned from these cases and become more proactive in the handling of criminal activity of athletes.

Whether the sporting world is getting better or worse is hard to tell. What we do know is that the following 25 athletes are some of the worst criminals that sports have ever seen.

Jacob Kornhauser is writer for "Like" him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or add him to your Google+ network.

2 of 26

No. 25. Tonya Harding

Getty Images

Of all the people who were involved in the high-profile conspiracy to assault ice skater Nancy Kerrigan, the victim's main rival and the one who would have been the main benefactor of the crime, Tonya Harding, somehow managed to avoid jail time. Heck, even the getaway driver got sent to prison. Harding? She struck a deal and pled guilty of conspiring to hinder the prosecution, receiving a sentence of a $160,000 fine, three years probation and 500 hours of community service.

3 of 26

No. 24: Tony Ayala Jr.

Getty Images

Had he not been such a terrible human being, Tony Ayala Jr. might have been known as one of the greats in boxing. A rising star in the sport waiting for his shot at gold in 1983, Ayala burglarized the home of a school teacher who lived in the neighborhood and sexually assaulted her. The kicker? It was his third convicted offense at just 19 years old, and it landed him a 35-year prison sentence. He was released in 1999 after serving 16 years and attempted a brief comeback ... before more troubles with the law came up. Apparently, 16 years in the clink just wasn't enough of a lesson for Ayala.

4 of 26

No. 23: Dave Meggett

Getty Images

Meggett's accomplished NFL career included three All-Pro selections, but it only shadowed a dark side that included decades of despicable behavior towards women. He was eventually convicted in 2010 of the rape and robbery of a South Carolina woman, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

5 of 26

No. 22: Javaris Crittenton

Getty Images

Crittenton can list on his life accomplishments, "former professional basketball player" and "murderer." It's rare that an athlete gets into this much serious trouble, but Crittenton did it to himself.

6 of 26

No. 21: Lenny Dykstra

Getty Images

Dykstra simply couldn't stay out of trouble after retirement. After facing a litany of charges in different incidents ranging from sexual harassment to bankruptcy fraud, the fall of the Dykstra empire was cemented when the former outfielder pled no contest to grand theft auto and falsifying financial statements in 2011 ... to avoid drug charges. He was sentenced to three years in prison after trying (unsuccessfully) to withdraw his plea agreement.

7 of 26

No. 20: Marion Jones

Shane Bevel - Getty Images

After being an Olympic runner for the United States, Jones, who had repeatedly denied taking performance enhancing drugs, was sentenced to six months in jail for check fraud in connection with performance enhancing drug use. She has since tried her hand at a career in the WNBA.

8 of 26

No. 19: Barry Bonds

Thearon W. Henderson - Getty Images

MLB's all-time home runs leader was convicted of one felony count of obstruction of justice for his connection with trials pertaining to his performance enhancing drug use. He also faced three counts of perjury, but those were dropped due to a mistrial. Bonds will be a hitting mentor for the Giants during Spring Training this season.

9 of 26

No. 18: Plaxico Burress

Joe Sargent - Getty Images

Honestly, Burress' arrest just added insult to injury. He accidentally shot himself in the leg with an unregistered gun in a night club. That incident led him to be charged on two felony gun possession counts and missing out on a couple of seasons in the NFL.

10 of 26

No. 17: Ryan Leaf

Handout - Getty Images

After being one of the biggest busts in the NFL's history, Leaf robbed a home and took prescription drugs from the scene. This came just three days after he allegedly burglarized a separate home and was released on $76,000 bond. Life just keeps going downhill for this once promising quarterback.

11 of 26

No. 16: Darryl Henley

Al Bello - Getty Images

The former Rams star was the head of very large drug-trafficking operation. To go on top of that, he was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. For his two misdeeds, he was sentenced to a hefty 41 years in prison.

12 of 26

No. 15: Lawrence Phillips

Brian Spurlock - USA Today Sports

This former NFL running back committed assault with a deadly weapon. Furthering the NFL's repuatation as a league full of criminals, Phillips was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

13 of 26

No. 14: Johnny Jolly

Gregory Shamus - Getty Images

The Green Bay Packer got very lucky. They thought they would be losing their starting defensive tackle likely for good when he was sentenced to six years in prison for drug possession, evidence tampering and violating probation. However, Jolly ended up serving just six months in prison and was back on the field for Green Bay this past season.

14 of 26

No. 13: Sam Hurd

Sam Sharpe - USA Today Sports

This former Cowboy and Bear actually reportedly made more money running a large-scale drug-trafficking operation than he did playing in the NFL. Marijuana and cocaine were his drugs of choice and for the large quantities that he had been distributing, he was sentenced to 15 long years in the slammer.

15 of 26

No. 12: Allen Iverson

Jesse D. Garrabrant - Getty Images

As is recorded in the documentary No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, The Answer was involved in a maiming by mob. For his part, he was sentenced to five years in prison. However, after serving four months in jail, he was pardoned by the governor and the conviction was reversed.

16 of 26

No. 11: Dany Heatley

Bruce Kluckhohn - Getty Images

One of the sadder stories in sports over the last decade and a half was the wreck that involved Heatley and his teammate and best friend Dan Snyder. The latter died in the crash and Heatley was under the influence when he was driving the car that crashed. He was indicted on vehicular homicide and five other charges, but never served jail time. That's because Snyder's family knew that Dan wouldn't have wanted Heatley in jail for what he did. He continues his NHL career to this day.

17 of 26

No. 10: Tom Payne

Bob Donnan - USA Today Sports

Former Kentucky standout basketball player Payne was one of the more disturbing sports criminals of all-time. He was a serial rapist who received multiple convictions for rape as well as sodomy. This and several other criminal counts led him to receiving a 15-year sentence back in 2000.

18 of 26

No. 9: Michael Vick

Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports

One of the more famous cases of a criminal athlete was Vick. When his dog-fighting ring was uncovered, the nation was taken aback. He was never a huge role model, but he was a superstar in the NFL at the time. This is a rare case where it seems like his crime has actually changed him for the better, but that still doesn't change what he did.

19 of 26

No. 8: Mel Hall

Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports

Former baseball player, Hall was a disturbing individual when he wasn't behind bars. In Texas in 2007 he was charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a minor and one count of indecency with a child. For his heinous crimes, he was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

20 of 26

No. 7: Chad Curtis

Christian Petersen - Getty Images

Curtis, who played for the Yankees relatively recently, was found guilty of criminal sexual conduct. He has fallen far from his playing days as he was sentenced to seven-to-15 years in jail, which could possibly last longer than his playing career.

21 of 26

No. 6: Ugueth Urbina

Jim McIsaac - Getty Images

In a vicious crime involving machetes and gasoline, Urbina was involved with an attempted murder in Venezuela. The former Phillies' pitcher was sentenced to 14 years in jail, but served just five and a half. He was released in 2012.

22 of 26

No. 5: Hiroshi Ogawa

Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports

Ogawa never played in the United States, but that doesn't keep him off of this list. He was a pitcher in the Japanese baseball league and was charged with theft and murder. Due to the severity of his crimes, he was sentenced to life in jail.

23 of 26

No. 4: Donte Stallworth

Jared Wickerham - Getty Images

Stallworth's lawyer probably made a career for himself off of his football player client's case. The former Browns' wide receiver hit a man with his car while he was driving intoxicated and received just 30 days of jail time. In many cases, this would've been ruled a vehicular homicide, but extenuating circumstances prevented Stallworth from receiving hefty jail time.

24 of 26

No. 3: Josh Lueke

Getty Images

Back when he was with the Texas Rangers organization, current Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Josh Lueke was charged with rape and non-consensual sodomy in May 2008. He eventually pled no contest to charges of false imprisonment with violence (but not before lying to police and denying his role in the charges), and was sentenced to 42 days in jail ... which he served prior to making bail.

25 of 26

No. 2: O.J. Simpson

Pool - Getty Images

Probably the most famous criminal athlete of all time, Simpson was acquitted in a high-profile case involving the murder of his wife and friend that had most people in the nation believing he was to blame. Karma seemed to exist in his case though, as several years later he was charged with robbery and kidnapping, and was sentenced to nine-to-33 years in jail.

26 of 26

No. 1: Rae Carruth

Getty Images

Carruth, a former NFL receiver, is a truly despicable human being. Instead of paying child support to his pregnant girlfriend, he had her killed. Luckily for society, he was caught and brought to justice in the end.