With nary a blemish on his record up until then, in 2003 L.A. Laker star Kobe Bryant was hit with rape charges following an encounter with a hotel worker in Colorado. Bryant was eventually cleared, but his rep would never be quite the same.
Budding superstar linebacker Ray Lewis was charged with double murder in the immediate hours following Super Bowl 2000 after a late- night altercation left two men stabbed to death on the streets of Atlanta.
In 2008, Marion Jones, a five-time Olympic medalist, was stripped of all her medals and sentenced to six-months in prison after admitting she lied to federal prosecutors about her use of performance enhancing drugs.
Just before the start of the 07 season, New York Knicks coach and Hall of Fame player Isiah Thomas was found guilty by a federal jury of having made unwanted sexual advances toward a female executive and the organization was ordered to pay here $11.6 million in damages.
Latrell Sprewell suspended a then NBA record 68-games in 1977 after he attacked and choked coach P.J. Carlisemo during an argument. A few years later, Sprewell was out of the league once and for all when during contract negotiations with Minnesota he turned down a three-year, $30 million offer with the reasoning “I've got to feed my family.
After admitting to be a frequent marijuana user, Ricky Williams announced his NFL retirement after league officials moved to ban use of the drug.
Former Cowboys Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin's career has almost been as colorful off the field as it was on it. Irvin has faced charges ranging from drug possession, to sexual assault. In 1996, it was rumored he cut teammate Everett McIver during a training camp skirmish, eventually paying him a six-figure settlement to assure he would drop the matter.
Barry Bonds' unquestioned status as the greatest home run hitter of all-time largely stands in ruins now stemming from his long reported performance enhancing use.
Once viewed as perhaps the greatest physical specimen in all of baseball, Roger Clemens is now widely looked upon as one of the game's biggest cheats with rampant reports of his longtime steroids use.
As the undsputed 25-year-old heavyweight champ, Mike Tyson was convicted of raping a 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant in 1991 and sentenced to six years in prison and four years probation. He would never again be the same Iron Mike Tyson.
In 1998, Chris Webber was arrested and charged with second-degree assault, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana, driving under the influence and five other traffic-related violations after being pulled over for speeding on the way to the practice center at the MCI Center in downtown D.C.
Carmelo Antony appeared in 2004 underground DVD called “Stop Snitching” during which others openly boasted of “putting a hole in the head” of those who do dare to talk with police.
Upon signing an eight-year, $93 million dollar contract with Minnesota and being criticized for his left than inspiring production, Randy Moss told reporters: “I play when I want to play. I'm too old to practice on Wednesday and Thursday.”
Rather than giving praise and thanks to Donovan McNabb after the Philly QB brought him to town to ball with him, Terrell Owens instead shared his sentiments of “we'd be better off with Brett Favre” with anyone willing to listen.
Serena Williams fined a USTA record $90,000 after she screamed “I swear to God, I'II take this ball and shove it down your fucking throat! Do you hear me?” to a U.S. Open judge who made a bad call against her.
Charles Barkley long ago told the world he was not a role model and in 2008 his DUI arrest in Arizona proved it.
In 1967, Muhammad Ali was stripped of boxing license and title and later found guilty on draft evasion charges after he refused to be inducted into the U.S. military based in his religious beliefs.
To this day rumors still persist that Michael Jordan's first retirement from the Chicago Bulls came about at the behest of NBA Commissioner David Stern as a result of an out-of-control gambling problem.
At the height of his NFL career in 2007, Atlanta Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced to 18-months in a federal prison after pleading guilty to bankrolling a massive dogfighting ring.
Maybe image isn't everything, as Andre Agassi, once boasted during a series of TV commercials in the early 1990. How else can you you explain the whole world being in such shock when the eight-time Grand Slams champ admitted in his 2009 autobiography that he had once tested positive for the drug methamphetamine.
In the midst of his pursuit of baseball's elusive 700 club (home runs), Alex Rodriquez was exposed as a womanizing, steroids abuser just prior to the 2009 season.
Lawrence Taylor once explained his completely reckless, drug-addicted off the field behavior with his all-star dominance on it by arguing: “There is a real relationship between wild, reckless abandoned off the field and being that way on the field.”
As a member of the Porrtland Trailblazers, Rasheed Wallace was suspended seven games during the '03 season after he confronted and threatened a group of referees on the team's loading dock.
Former NBA champ Jayson Williams is in the midst of serving a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the 2002 shooting death of his one-time limo driver.
If ever pro athletes want to question the wisdom of just randomly club-hopping, the Stephen Jackson may serve as perfect illustration. Back in October of 2006, Jackson was forced to fire at least five shots in the air outside an Indiana strip club after he was repeatedly struck in the face and nearly run over by a car following a dispute with a group of other men.
Less than a year after leading the New York Giants to a Super Bowl win, Plaxico Burress was headed for prison following an early-morning nightclub shooting where he accidentally shot himself in the right thigh.
A prank gone bad landed Gilbert Arenas a sentence of 30-days in a halfway house and two-years probation after he pointed a gun at teammate Javaris Crittenton in the Wizard's locker room.
Dogged by bouts of drug and alcohol abuse most of his playing career, along with former teammate Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry serves as the poster child of the wayward athlete of the early 1990s.
Dogged by bouts of drug and alcohol abuse most of his playing career, along with former teammate Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden serves as the poster child of the wayward athlete of the early 1990s.
In July of 2002, NBA superstar Allen Iverson was hit with 14 charges, most of them felonies including the allegation of making terrorist threats, following a domestic dispute with his wife.
Delonte West is scheduled to go on trial later this month on gun charges that could land him in prison for up to three years after a routine traffic stop last year turned up a 9 mm Beretta, a .358 magnum and a Remington 870 in his possession.
Disappointed in his own play and distraught over his treatment by fans, an injured Vince Young disappeared from his home from several hours on a September night in 2008, prompting worried family members and Tennessee team officials to grow concerned about his safety. Police were called before Young finally resurfaced after his mom told authorities her “son was hurting inside out.”
In November of 2004, then Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest elevated the Malice at the Palace brawl when he charged the stands to tangle with a fan who had doused him with soda. The eruption led to 10 players being suspended a total of 146 games and more than $10 million being lost in players salary.
Billy Jean King
In 1981, Billy Jean King became the first prominent female athlete to admit she was a lesbian. Since that time, she has been one of the biggest advocates of women's rights, earning a Presidential Medal of Freedom honor from President Barack Obama last August.
Pete Rose, MLB's all-time hits leader, has been banned from the game he once epitomized for nearly two decades stemming from his admission of betting on games in which he either played or managed in.
Known as 'Superbrat' during his playing days, John McEnroe was almost as renowned for his whining as he was his winning.