Athletes who place themselves above the law are quickly grounded
Bobby Danger Jones
In the wake of the arrest of Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov for kidnapping and third degree assault, the Reflector will we will look at three infamous athlete criminals. What lead to the demise of their careers and the legal aftermath of their criminal behaviors?
O.J. “the Juice” Simpson is probably the most well-known criminal of the professional sports world. Simpson was a talented running back who averaged 4.7 yards per carry, accumulated 11,236 rushing yards and 61 touchdowns in a career that lasted a decade. In his retirement, he had an extensive acting career appearing movies such as Naked Gun. In 1995, Simpson was the prime suspect in the slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her alleged lover Ronal Goldman. He was acquitted of the charges thanks to the boisterous defence of high profile defence lawyer Johnnie Cochran.
The trial was a circus of circumstantial evidence and the coining of the phrase, “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit”. Simpson was later found guilty in a civil suit and ordered to pay $33.5 million to the Goldman family. After miraculously beating the murder charge, but having to surrender his fortune, hard times must have be fallen on Simpson. Because in 2007, at the age of 60, O.J. was arrested in Las Vegas and charged with numerous felonies, including robbery with deadly weapon, burglary with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon and first degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon. Simpson did not have Johnny Cochrane to bail him out of this time and was subsequently sentenced to serve at least nine years behind bars.
In the spirit of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi Russia, Tonya Harding skates her way into the discussion. The former Olympic figure skater and recent boxer, Tonya Harding had a promising skating career ahead of her. At the Fall 1991 Skate America, she accomplished three firsts including, the first woman to complete a triple axel in the short program, first to compete two triple axels in a single competition and the first to complete a triple axel combo with a toe loop.
Despite an impressive breakout year in 1991, Harding’s career began to spiral downward. After 1991, she was never again able to accomplish the triple axel in competition, she failed to qualify for the worlds in 1993 and was not about to lose her chance to qualify for the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer. Her main competitor Nancy Kerrigan would soon become the focus of Harding’s insecurities. Harding’s ex-husband and bodyguard hired an assailant to break the leg of rival Kerrigan. The assault with a baton forced her to withdraw from competition and Harding was disqualified. Harding eventually would plead guilty to hindering the investigation and was banned from professional and Olympic competition for life. She has had brief appearances in the media including highlights such as a sex tape and domestic assault on her boyfriend.
Iron Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson had a remarkable career and was the pinnacle of champions in his prime.
Tyson holds the record as the youngest WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight champion at only the age of 20. He won his first 19 pro bouts by knockout, 12 of which came in the first round. Tyson earned over $300 million in his career but “the Baddest Man on the Planet” filed for bankruptcy in 2003.
Tyson’s criminal career began in 1991 when he was arrested for rape and convicted in February on 1992 and sentenced in March to six years of incarceration followed by four years of probation. Tyson was released after serving three years and had then become a converted Muslim. Tyson was in the limelight again In December 2006, when he crashed into a police SUV shortly after leaving a night club. He was charged with DUI and felony drug possession and was convicted of those charges in 2007, but was shortly released to treat “various addictions”. Now Tyson has become a satirical character and has appeared frequently on the WWE and in The Hangover movies.