Giving someone a second chance, especially if they’ve done something horrendous, is a complicated issue. Does the person deserve it? Have they earned it? Or is what they did so bad that it’s unforgivable? This is currently an on-going issue in the NFL with one of its most high-profile controversies: former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching out his then-fiance (and now wife) Janay Palmer in an elevator. Currently, Rice is a free agent, but the question lingering over his return is if he deserves a second chance. To make things even murkier, here are some other great athletes who did terrible things, yet still got another chance.
10. Brandon Marshall
Drafted in 2006, Brandon Marshall is a five-time Pro-Bowl wide receiver who has played for the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears and as of 2015, joined the New York Jets. The problem with Marshall is that no matter what team he plays on, trouble seems to follow. He has a long history of alleged domestic violence against former girlfriends and his current wife. He wasn’t charged in any of the crimes against women, but that could be because almost every time the police are called Marshall would leave before they got there. Besides just the violence against his partners, Marshall also has been involved in an incident where a woman got punched outside a nightclub (Marshall claims his wife hit the woman) and firing a gun at his father.
Another notable controversy involving Marshall and violence involved an incident in a nightclub on January 1, 2007 in Denver. Marshall, famous for his mouth, got into a heated argument with a group of men. A gun was pulled and Marshall was the target, but instead Broncos’ corner back Darrent Williams was shot and killed.
For all the problems Marshall has had off the field, including domestic violence and drinking and driving, he was suspended for three games in 2008. But, he appealed and it was reduced to one game and he forfeited the paycheck from two other games.
9. Jonathan Boyer
Jonathan “Jock” Boyer is a former professional cyclist who is most notable because he became the first American to compete in the Tour de France in 1981. His best finish was 12th in 1983.
In May, 2002, Boyer, a devout Seventh Day Adventist, was arrested on charges of child molestation. It turns out that starting in 1997, Boyer was having a sexual relationship with a girl who was only 12. The abuse continued until 2002 and it came to an end when the girl told the police. Boyer ended up pleading guilty to the crime and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. That was reduced to just one year in prison and five years of probation.
Despite the despicable nature of his crime, Boyer was allowed to keep competing in races upon his release from prison. For example, in 2006, he was in the Race Across America. In 2007, Boyer moved to Rwanda, where he coaches cyclists in the developing African country.
8. Ruben Patterson
Ruben Patterson joined the NBA in 1999 and his second season was a turbulent one. Before it even got started, Patterson attacked a man in Cleveland, because Patterson believed the man scratched his car. In the scuffle, Patterson ended up breaking the man’s jaw. Then, in September of 2000, Patterson tried to rape his children’s nanny in his Seattle home when his wife was away.
Patterson was charged and convicted in both cases, and given six months of probation for the fight over the scratch on the car. In regard to the nanny, he pleaded guilty to third degree attempted rape and was given 15 days in jail, fined at least $5000, and had to register as a sex offender. For the attempted rape, he was suspended for five games by the NBA, while he got three games for breaking the man’s jaw.
After the suspensions, he returned to the Sonics and the next year he went to play for the Portland Trail Blazers. While in Portland, he got into more legal problems involving violence. In November, 2002, his wife had him arrested for felony domestic abuse. She ended up dropping the charges and divorced him. Patterson continued to play in the NBA until the end of 2007 season, when he finally retired. From basketball, anyway. His criminal career is still very much open ended.
7. Adrian Peterson
Running back Adrian Peterson was picked seventh overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2007 NFL draft. Quickly, Peterson asserted himself as one of the best running backs in the game. Between 2008 and 2012, he was the NFL’s leading rusher and he was invited to the Pro Bowl from 2008 to 2013. He was looking forward to a promising season in 2014, but, he only played one game.
That was because on September 11, 2014, Peterson was indicted for reckless or negligent injury to a child. It stemmed from an incident that happened on May 18, 2014 when Peterson’s four-year-old son was visiting him at his home in Houston, Texas. The incident started when the four-year-old pushed his brother off of a motorcycle video game. Peterson got a tree branch, took off the twigs and branches and proceeded to “whoop” (his words for it) the boy on the buttocks, legs, genitals and ankles. The gashes and bruises were called “extensive” by a doctor.
On November 4, 2014, Peterson pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of misdemeanor reckless assault and he got two years of probation, was fined $4000 and he was given 80 hours of community service. The Vikings deactivated him pending the trial, but they expected him to be back to play the Chicago Bears on November 16, less than two weeks after accepting the plea deal. But, that didn’t happen because the NFL chose to suspend Peterson for the rest of the season without pay.
In 2015, Peterson returned to play for the Vikings. When asked, representatives of the Vikings said they wanted Peterson to remain in Minnesota, and didn’t know what team wouldn’t want a running back like Peterson on the team.
6. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson is one of the most famous boxers in the world. He is known for both his talent inside the ring and his wild persona outside of it.
There is no doubt that Tyson was an immensely talented boxer. He was the youngest person to ever win the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles. He was just 20 years, four months and 22 days old when he accomplished the feat. But, by the late 80s, Tyson’s personal problems started to emerge. Things came to a head in July, 1991, when he was arrested for raping 18-year-old Desiree Washington, who was Miss Black Rhode Island. According to Washington, she turned down Tyson’s sexual advances, but she was raped nevertheless. After raping her, Tyson apparently laughed.
In February 1992, a jury found Tyson guilty of rape and he received a 10 year sentence, but four of the years were suspended. He was released after three years, in March of 1995 and as he was leaving the prison, he was picked up in a black limousine by Don King. Less than a week later, he announced his return to boxing with a pay-per-view event.
Tyson’s comeback fight against Peter McNeely took place five months after his release from prison on August 18, 1995. The pay-per-view event was incredibly successful; it set the record for amount of people who paid to watch a pay-per-view event and Showcase grossed more than $96 million on the match. The fight, on the other hand, was disappointing. It only lasted 89 seconds before McNeely was disqualified. Tyson was paid $25 million for the fight. After that match, Tyson would go on to win the WBC Heavyweight and the WBA Heavyweight titles.
However, that wasn’t the end of Mike Tyson’s problems both in-and-out of the ring. On June 28, 1997, he bit a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear off in a match. Then, in August 1998, Tyson was involved in a road rage accident where he kicked a man in the groin and punched a 62-year-old man in the face. He was given one year in prison for the road rage assault. Yet, he despite all these problems, Tyson was still allowed to box during this time, and he officially retired in 2005. And hey, at least he was pretty funny in The Hangover, right?
5. Michael Vick
Drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001, quarterback Michael Vick immediately made his mark on the NFL. He was known for his amazing ability to both throw the ball and run with it, making him one of the most fearsome double threat quarterbacks to play the game. While with the Falcons, he was asked three times to play in the Pro Bowl.
Vick’s career was running along smoothly until he ran into legal trouble in April of 2007. Police searched Vick’s property in Newport News, Virginia and they found a dog fighting ring that housed approximately 70 dogs. Immediately, Vick tried to distance himself from the dogfighting ring, which was called Bad Newz Kennels. He admitted to funding it, but denied other involvement. But other people involved in the dog fighting ring accused him of promoting it and killing dogs that underperformed. According to the witnesses, the dogs were hanged, drowned or electrocuted by Vick.
News of the indictment made headlines around the world and angered many dog lovers. After pleading guilty, Vick was given 23 months in prison in August 2007 and he was suspended indefinitely from the NFL. Of his 23 month sentence, he served 21 months and was released.
At the end of the 2009 season, the Falcons tried to trade him, but since they weren’t able to find a taker, he was released. In August 2009, Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2010, he was again invited back to the Pro Bowl. In 2014, he signed a contract with the New York Jets for $5 million for one year, and in 2015 he with with the Pittsburgh Steelers (he’s currently staring, with fellow shady QB Ben Roethlisberger sidelined with an injury).
4. Craig MacTavish
Drafted in 1978 by the Boston Bruins, Craig MacTavish didn’t become a full time team member until the 1982-83 season, but because of a terrible tragedy, he would only play another season and a half in Beantown. On January 25, 1984, MacTavish was drinking at a bar and decided to drive home. That’s when he hit a car being driven by 26-year-old Kim Radley in Peabody, Massachusetts. She died four days later in the hospital. MacTavish pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and he was given a year in prison, which forced him to miss the 1984-85 season.
MacTavish was released from the Bruins, but while in prison, he was approached by four teams. MacTavish signed with the Edmonton Oilers, joining them for the 1985-86 season, in which the Oilers won the Stanley Cup. The Oilers would go on to win two more Stanley Cup championships with MacTavish (1988 and 1990) and he became the team captain in 1992. In 1994, he was traded to the New York Rangers and won a fourth Stanley Cup with them in the first season he was there. He retired from playing hockey in 1997. In 2000, he became the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, and he held that position for eight seasons. He currently works for the Oilers’ head office.
After killing the 26-year-old woman, MacTavish had a pretty successful career, but he never forgot about his crime. He would talk to schools about the dangers of drinking and driving and he was also made an honorary chairman on CheckStop, an anti-drunk-driving program. The Radley family also forgave MacTavish and Kim Radley’s mother sends him a birthday card every year.
3. Leonard Little
Leonard Little played 12 years with the St. Louis Rams as a defensive end, but on October 19, 1998, during his first season in the NFL, he was out celebrating his birthday. He was drunk and got behind the wheel of his SVU. He ran a red light and collided with the car of a 47-year-old mother named Susan Gutweiler; she died 12 hours later. After the accident, according the police report, Little said, “”The [expletive] ran a yellow light and hit me, wrecking my $45,000 [expletive] car.”
After killing the woman, Little was given four years of probation, 1,000 hours of community service, and the NFL suspended him for eight games. Little returned in the 1999 season, which was the season that the Rams won the Super Bowl.
Now, if killing someone while drinking and driving wasn’t bad enough, on April 24, 2004, Little was again arrested for speeding and driving under the influence. He was given two years of probation for misdemeanor speeding, but not for the DWI. As a result, he wasn’t suspended by the NFL and continued to play until the end of the 2009 season, when he retired from football.
2. Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis was a linebacker who played his 17-year career with the Baltimore Ravens. Picked 26th overall in 1996, he was selected for the Pro Bowl 13 times, he is a two-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year and three time AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He also won two Super Bowls with the Ravens, one in 2001 and one in 2013.
But that illustrious career almost never happened because of an incident after the Super Bowl on January 30, 2000, in Atlanta. Lewis, who wasn’t playing in the Super Bowl, was out partying at a club after the game. After leaving the club, Lewis’ entourage got into a fight with another group of men. The ensuing brawl left 21-year-old Jacinth Baker and 24-year-old Richard Lollar dead from stab wounds. After the fight, Lewis and his friends fled the scene in their limo. They were questioned by police that night and 11 days later, Lewis and two friends, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were indicted for murder.
It’s unclear what happened during the fight, but what is known is that the knife was found without any DNA or fingerprints on it. The white suit that Lewis was wearing that night was never found, but there was blood from one of the victims in Lewis’ limo. Lewis agreed to testify against his companions and in exchange he would get a year of probation for obstruction of justice. At the trial, Lewis admitted the two men brought knives with them that night, but didn’t say much else. In the end, no one was convicted for the murder of the two young men.
Lewis was fined $250,000 by the NFL and he also reached an undisclosed settlement with the families of each victim. As a result, he was able to return to the Ravens without missing a single game. In the very next season, the Ravens defeated the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Ray Lewis was awarded the Super Bowl MVP, but since he was involved in the death of two men, Lewis didn’t say the trademark line “I’m going to Disney World!” Instead, the trip was awarded to the Ravens’ quarterback Trent Dilfer.
Lewis retired in 2012, after the Ravens won their second Super Bowl championship. They erected a statue of him outside of M&T Stadium in Baltimore in 2014 and he’s currently an analyst for ESPN.
1. Floyd Mayweather
When it comes to the gap between immense talent and being an awful person, it’s hard to argue that there’s a divide much bigger than the one in boxer Floyd Mayweather.
As of 2015, Mayweather is the world’s highest paid athlete. He is an undefeated boxer with an impressive record of 49-0. During those fights, he won titles in five different weight classes, and he’s considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in history. But the problem with Mayweather is that his history of domestic violence is as undeniable as his boxing prowess. In fact, he’s been arrested or cited for domestic violence seven times over incidents involving five different women. Then there were a number of other times when police were called, but Mayweather wasn’t arrested.
The history of Mayweather’s misogyny and violence towards women began in a truly odd fashion. In January 2001, Mayweather had a match with a boxer named Diego “Chico” Corrales, who was facing charges of assault against his wife. Mayweather proclaimed he was going to beat Corrales for battered women. Mayweather won the match, but it turns out Mayweather was supporting abused women for a tactical advantage; he wanted to throw Corrales off his game and it worked. A month after the match, Mayweather got into a fight with the mother of one of his daughters, a woman named Brim, over child support. He hit her in the face with a car door and then forced her into the car where he punched her. Five months later, he was at the mall with the same woman and their daughter. At some point, the couple got into a fight and Mayweather asked his friend to take his daughter from Brim. After doing so, Mayweather punched her in the neck and ran away before police arrived. He eventually pleaded guilty to assault on Brim’s father in October 2001 and for battery against Brim in March 2002. He received a suspended sentence for both.
The most notorious crime Mayweather committed was in September, 2010. At the time, Josie Harris, who is the mother of three of Mayweather’s children, was living in a house owned by Mayweather. When she came home late one night, Mayweather was there and he asked if she was dating NBA player C.J. Watson. At the time, Harris and Mayweather weren’t together. In fact, Mayweather had a live-in girlfriend. The argument escalated and the police were called. After some convincing, Mayweather left the house. But at 5:00 a.m. Mayweather and another man returned and entered the house. Harris was asleep on the couch and she was awoken by Mayweather screaming at her about texts in her phone.
Harris admitted she was seeing Watson and Mayweather went nuts. He attacked Harris and started punching her in the back of the head and kicking her. Mayweather screamed that he would kill her and Watson and make their bodies disappear. As she was being beaten, Harris screamed for her children to call the police. Mayweather threatened two of the children, 10-year-old Koraun and 9-year-old Zion, saying that he would beat them if they called the police or went outside. Koraun tried to run upstairs, but Mayweather’s accomplice blocked the way. Luckily, Koraun got outside and the police were called. Mayweather fled before the police got there. This is just the most terrifying example of how awful a person Mayweather is, but there are plenty more examples of his history of battering women.
Mayweather is arguably the most talented puncher in the world, and he uses that ability to beat women. Floyd Mayweather is a pile of human garbage covered in mayonnaise that is sitting in the sun and in 2015, he is projected to make $300 million, because life has a terrible sense of humor.