Tiger Woods
Andrew Redington / Getty

Athletes Who Ruined Their Reputations Later in Life

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Tiger Woods
Andrew Redington / Getty

Tarnished Glory

Athletes earn fame – and often fortune – during their playing days. Many live the rest of their lives basking in that glory, but a number of athletes have ruined their reputations by post-play missteps (or allegations that only emerged after their playing days). Read on for some of the many cautionary tales.


Related: Actors With Bad On-Set Reputations

Brett Favre
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Brett Favre

NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre is currently embroiled in a welfare scandal, facing civil charges in a Mississippi case related to nearly $80 million in funds destined for aiding the poor that were diverted to the rich. The former star quarterback has faced past issues before this embezzlement scandal; during his playing days, he dealt with substance abuse issues and sexting allegations. 


Related: Celebs Who Got Canceled — and Probably Deserved It

O.J. Simpson
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O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson, another Pro Football Hall of Fame member who went on to a post-play broadcasting and acting career, became infamous for the 1994-95 murder trial in which he was ultimately acquitted of murdering his former wife and her friend. Equally memorable was the low-speed freeway chase when Simpson failed to turn himself in, as agreed. Two years later, he would be held accountable in a civil trial. Simpson would not stay out of the spotlight, though, and was found guilty in 2008 for stealing sports memorabilia in Las Vegas and, this time, went to jail.


Related: Celebs Who Blew Their Money on Stupid Things

Lance Armstrong
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Lance Armstrong

Cycling legend and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace was stunning. Holder of seven consecutive Tour de France medals, as well as an Olympic medal, he would go on to found The Lance Armstrong Foundation, a cancer nonprofit. Armstrong often was the subject of rumors of doping but it wasn’t until 2012 investigations led to his being stripped of his medals and banned from competing for life, when it was confirmed he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Pete Rose
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Pete Rose

The nickname of the MLB star known as “Charlie Hustle” took on a decidedly different meaning after the Pete Rose scandal. The longtime Cincinnati Reds player who was part of three World Series-winning teams retired in 1986 and would go on to manage Cincinnati until the summer of 1989, when he was penalized with a permanent ban from the game following accusations of having gambled on games he played for and while he was managing. It wasn’t until 2004 that Rose admitted to the charges. Many still contend he should be in the Hall of Fame.

Tiger Woods
Andrew Redington / Getty

Tiger Woods

Even those who don’t follow golf know the name Tiger Woods, the California native considered one of the greatest players of the game. Woods faced a one-two punch of scandal in 2009 when it emerged that the married player had had an affair – and two days later, he was involved in a car accident. The initial cheating allegations led to admissions of further transgressions, with endorsement deals impacted by the scandal. Woods continues to play, though troubles continue including a 2017 arrest for driving under the influence, a 2021 rollover car crash, and lingering health issues.

Mike Tyson
Bettmann / Getty

Mike Tyson

Professional heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, the powerhouse known as “Iron Mike,” faced scandal multiple times during his career – and in his more recent years. He was convicted of charges including rape and went to prison in the 1990s, bit Evander Holyfield’s ear off, faced substance abuse issues and earlier this year, and got into a physical altercation with a fellow airline passenger.

Gabriela Sabatini
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Gabriela Sabatini

Tennis star Gabriela Sabatini, a successful young player back in the 1980s and ‘90s, won the U.S. Open in 1990. Her career was filled with top prize money, titles and even an Olympic medal. But in 2013, the Argentine legend who would go on to launch a successful fragrance line, admitted that she used to purposely lose games. It wasn’t for gambling purposes but rather her shyness led her to avoid the spotlight in her earlier days. For all her glory, could it have been even more?

Phil Mickelson
Stacy Revere / Getty

Phil Mickelson

Pro golfer Phil Mickelson has faced a number of issues over the years. As The Washington Post reported on his “self-inflicted collapse” in May, Mickelson has faced gambling debts and was involved in an insider-trading investigation, faced criticism of his alliance with a Saudi Arabia-backed rival tour, and faced scorn after complaining against California’s income taxes a few years ago.

Curt Schilling
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Curt Schilling

One time Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s playing days fade to memory in light of a series of scandals, including a huge lawsuit with the state of Rhode Island related to misuse and default on a $75 million state loan to a gaming company led by Schilling. In addition, he would repeatedly be in the spotlight for hateful and discriminatory social-media and on-air comments and diatribes, all in line with his ultra-conservative views.

Carl Lewis
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Carl Lewis

Olympic track and field multiple-medalist Carl Lewis, as reported by The New York Times, admitted in 2003 that he failed three tests for stimulants in 1988 as Olympic officials looked the other way. Lewis maintained the use was inadvertent, though many feel his achievements remain forever questionable.

Marion Jones
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Marion Jones

Track and field star Marion Jones was stripped of her seven Olympic medals earned in 2000 some seven years later, it having been determined that she used performance-enhancing steroids. The runner and long jumper would have to go to prison for the use and the lying, with the trial judge admonishing her for being such a poor role model for children.

Oscar Pistorius
Pool / Getty

Oscar Pistorius

The South African former professional sprinter, whose physical challenges saw him compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic games, forever clouded his athletic pedigree when he shot and killed his girlfriend in 2013. He claimed to have thought she was an intruder; he was found not guilty of murder but of “culpable homicide.”