By Dan Williams @Dan_Wi11iams on June 18, 2014
Professional and big-time college athletes are always in the spotlight, usually due to their stardom. However, there are plenty of instances when these athletes make headlines for all the wrong reasons, including legal issues. The following crimes involving sports stars range from the bizarre to the brutal; here are 10 of the scariest.
Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips was sentenced to 31 years in prison due to a number of crimes, including choking his girlfriend twice. Already in trouble, Phillips followed the incidents by something seen out of Grand Theft Auto. After taking part in a losing effort of a Los Angeles pickup game, Phillips drove his truck into and injured three teenagers on the winning team. For the final act, Phillips was charged with felonious assault.
The story of Tonya Harding is an uninspiring tale of a life leading down a dark path. Harding’ is infamous for her alleged role in the Nancy Kerrigan attack during the 1994 U.S. figure skating championships. Harding’s then-husband Jeff Gillooly hired Shane Stant to strike Kerrigan with a metal baton following a practice session. Harding claimed to have no involvement in the crime and was convicted of hindering the investigation of the attack.
Ugueth Urbina’s story is something out of revenge movie. In 2004, Urbina’s mother was kidnapped in Venezuela and held ransom, which led Urbina and a crew to rescue her covertly. Urbina was able to pitch after the ordeal, but a year after the kidnapping, he was arrested for attempted murder for threatening five farm workers with a machete, then dousing them with gasoline. It was later found out that Urbina accused the farmers of stealing his gun.
While they weren’t stars, the murder case involving former Baylor basketball players Patrick Dennehy and Carlton Dotson held the sports world’s collective interest during the summer of 2003. After Dennehy was reported missing, an informant told police that Dotson had confessed to murdering Dennehy while practicing shooting guns. Dennehy’s decomposed body was found and and Dotson pleaded guilty five days before the trial. He is serving 35 years.
Former NHL player Mike Danton’s story is as scary as it is bizarre. Danton’s agent, David Frost, seemingly controlled aspects of Danton’s life, including getting him to change his name and estrange from his parents. Eventually, Danton snapped out of Frost’s control and hired a hit man to murder his agent. The act was never carried out and Danton was arrested a week later. Bizarrely, Frost forced Danton to confess and tell Frost he "loved him."
Retired NBA player Jayson Williams has had a history of legal issues, but in 2002, Williams was at the center of the death of his limousine driver, Gus Christofi, after reportedly giving a tour of his home along with members of his charity. Allegedly, Williams was handling a shotgun during the tour when the weapon fired. He was acquitted of more serious manslaughter charges, but was retried and ultimately pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
Two-time Super Bowl winner and future NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis’ career was almost cut short due to an altercation that resulted in two stabbing deaths outside of an Atlanta nightclub. Lewis and two friends were seen leaving the scene and were later indicted on murder and assault charges. Lewis and the two others were acquitted of all charges, but the victims' families have insisted that Lewis has withheld details of the night of the murder.
Rae Carruth’s NFL career had a promising start, but ended abruptly in 1999 when he stopped his car in front of his girlfriend, who was pregnant with their twins. Another car pulled up beside him and shot Cherica Adams four times, killing her and one of the babies. Carruth was arrested, but made bail and fled the state. Once he was picked up, Carruth was charged with conspiracy to murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and killing his child.
The most recent athlete on this list, and possibly the most dangerous, is Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez was first arrested after the killing of Odin Lloyd after it was noted Lloyd said something to lose Hernandez’s trust. Despite damning evidence against him, Hernandez has plead not guilty. Hernandez has also been linked to an unrelated 2012 double-homicide in which he allegedly murdered two Boston men reportedly after a drink spilling.
O.J. Simpson lands the top spot on this infamous list due to his stardom and the disturbing nature of the crime he was associated with in 1994. The double murder of Simpson’s estranged wife and her acquaintance led to one of the most captivating court cases in U.S. history. Everything from the Bronco car chase to the in-court coverage of the trial changed the way media covered legal happenings. Simpson was controversially acquitted.
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