Making it is a professional athlete is the ultimate dream. But for some, such as (from left) Aaron Hernandez, Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson, the dream can become a nightmare, run-ins with the law magnified due to celebrity status. From murders to rapists, robbers to drug traffickers, sports’ history has no shortage of those who made it big on the field or on the court, only to have it taken away in a court -- of law. Click ahead for the most notorious athletes who went from making headlines for their success to making headlines as a convicted felon.
L-R: Jared Wickerham; Eugene Garcia, AFP; Ethan MillerL-R: Jared Wickerham; Eugene Garcia, AFP; Ethan Miller
Crimes: First-degree murder Sentence: Life in prison without the possibility of parole Details: On June 17, 2013, 27-year-old Odin Lloyd was shot to death in a Massachusetts industrial park one mile from Hernandez's home. Nine days later, police arrested the tight end -- then just 23 and less than a year removed from signing a five-year, $40 million contract with the Patriots -- and charged him with first-degree murder and weapons-related charges. In January 2015, perhaps the most-watched trial of an athlete since the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial of the late 1990s began, Hernandez pleading not guilty to all charges. Despite his attorneys changing their story at closing arguments and claiming Hernandez was present during the murder but as an unwilling participant, a jury found him guilty.
Getty ImagesJared Wickerham
Crimes: Sexual assault, rape Sentence: Expected to be nine years Details: Sharper, a two-time All-Pro safety who played 14 seasons and won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints, was arrested in January 2014 and charged in Los Angeles with drugging and raping two women in California. Within months, accusations and charges followed in three other states: Arizona, Louisiana and Nevada. In all, Sharper was accused of drugging and then raping at least nine women after meeting them at clubs in the four states from late 2013 to early 2014. In March 2015, the 39-year-old Sharper began a series of guilty / no contest pleas in the four states, part of an agreement that would allow him to serve all of the sentences concurrently, a deal which would keep him in prison for about nine years.
Getty ImagesLarry French
Crimes: Assault, false imprisonment, making a criminal threat, auto theft Sentence: 31 years Details: Despite his immense talent, Phillips was far better-known, both at Nebraska in the mid-90s and in his failed NFL career, for trouble off the field. All three NFL teams he played for (St. Louis, Miami, San Francisco) let him go after insubordination. In 2005 Phillips was arrested and charged with driving his car into a group of teenagers after a pick-up football game in Los Angeles. At the same time, he was wanted in San Diego on domestic violence charges. In all, he was sentenced to 31 years in prison in 2008 and ’09. He was suspected of killing his cellmate at Kern Valley (Calif.) State Prison in April 2015; nine months later, on Jan. 13, 2016, Phillips killed himself in his prison cell.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
Crimes: Armed robbery, kidnapping Sentence: 33 years, eligible for parole after nine years Details: The Hall of Fame running back's most famous court case came in 'The Trial of the Century' in 1995, which ended with Simpson's acquittal on charges he murdered ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her acquaintance, Ronald Goldman, in 1994. But 13 years later, Simpson was imprisoned after his conviction stemming from an incident in a Vegas hotel room in 2007, when Simpson and five other men stormed the room in search of sports & personal memorabilia Simpson claimed was stolen from him. Guns were drawn during the confrontation, and parts of the planning, the confrontation and the aftermath caught on audio or videotape.
Crimes: Conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, trying to kill an unborn child Sentence: 18-24 years Details: On Nov. 16, 1999, real-estate agent Cherica Adams was shot four times while driving in her car in Charlotte, NC. A 911 call by Adams indicated Carruth, at the time Adams' boyfriend and a receiver with the Carolina Panthers, was at the scene at the time of the shooting, in a separate car. After Adams died a month later, Carruth fled to Tennessee, where he was found hiding in a trunk after a brief manhunt. During the trial, the prosecution successfully argued that Carruth was angered when Adams would not have an abortion, and hired another man to kill Adams after Carruth pulled in front of her car to stop her vehicle. The unborn child survived the shooting.
Getty ImagesMitchell Layton
Crimes: Cocaine trafficking, bribing a jail guard, conspiracy to murder a federal judge & witness Sentence: 41 years Details: Henley, a star cornerback at UCLA drafted by the then-Los Angeles Rams in 1989, was convicted with four co-defendants in 1995 of cocaine trafficking. While awaiting sentencing in LA, Henley used a cell phone to order a hit on the judge who oversaw the trial and a Rams cheerleader who testified against him. The plot, which included bribing a guard at the jail and setting up drug deals to help fund the hits, was foiled and Henley ultimately pleaded guilty to four charges while 10 others were dismissed. The deal offered Henley a chance to one day be freed; the earliest Henley can be released is 2031.
Getty ImagesAl Bello
Crimes: Conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine and marijuana Sentence: 15 years Details: While under a three-year, $5 million contract with the Bears, the receiver was arrested in a restaurant in December 2011 after accepting a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover officer, after allegedly telling the cop inside the restaurant he wanted to buy and distribute cocaine and marijuana. Hurd, who was sentenced in November 2013, received less than the maximum 27-34 recommended by state guidelines, in large part because the judge viewed Hurd not as much a big-time drug kingpin as a big-time talker with big-time dreams and very few connections. Indeed, 'I do not have the IQ of a drug dealer,' Hurd told the judge prior to sentencing.
Getty ImagesScott Cunningham
Crimes: Fraud, possession & distribution of heroin Sentence: 46 months; five years Details: Montgomery stands out as he was sentenced to prison time for two unrelated incidents, and was handed the second sentence while serving the first one. The 2000 Olympic gold medalist and former fastest man on earth first ran into trouble in 2005 when he was banned for two years and stripped of his world record as part of the BALCO scandal. He was sentenced in New York in 2008 to 46 months in prison for his role in a check-fraud scheme; later that same year, Montgomery pleaded guilty in Virginia to possession and distribution of more than 100 grams of heroin and received five years in prison, a sentence which did not begin until the fraud sentence was served. He was released in 2012.
Getty ImagesMichael Steele
Crimes: DUI with serious bodily injury Sentence: Four years, three months Details: The troubled No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft saw his spiraling career — and life — bottom out in March 2012 when he was charged with multiple counts of DUI, fleeing the scene of an accident and driving with suspended license after hitting a 72-year-old motorcyclist from behind in Tampa, Fla. Selected No. 1 overall by the Padres, Bush was suspended before he ever played a professional game after an arrest in an alleged bar fight and bounced from the Padres to the Blue Jays to the Rays due to poor play and legal troubles. In spring training with Tampa at the time of the hit and run, Bush pleaded no contest and was released early, in October 2015, then signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
Crimes: Criminal sexual conduct with minors Sentence: 7-15 years Details: Prosecutors claimed Curtis, then 43, sexually assaulted three teenage girls in 2012 while working as a volunteer weight-room strength trainer at a Michigan high school. One girl alleged the two-time World Series winner with the Yankees touched and kissed her breasts, another two said he inappropriately touched their buttocks. At sentencing, the judge called Curtis a predator and Curtis rebutted by calling the girls liars. He also said he is a Christian servant and alluded to one day perhaps writing a book with one of the victims which 'could have a positive impact on a lot of people.'
Getty ImagesHarry How
Crimes: Rape, criminal deviate conduct Sentence: 10 years (four suspended) Details: Most people look at Tyson's stunning loss to James 'Buster' Douglas in 1990 as the beginning of Tyson's downfall. But his 1992 rape conviction and subsequent prison sentence truly signified the end was near. The 25-year-old was convicted of raping a then-18-year-old Desiree Washington in a hotel room while both were in Indianapolis for the Indiana Black Expo, where Washington was a contestant in the Miss Black America pageant. Tyson ultimately served three years in prison before his 1995 release. He would fight four laughable bouts over the next 18 months before back-to-back losses to Evander Holyfield, the second the infamous ear-bite fight, and Tyson was never the same in the ring.
AFP/Getty ImagesEUGENE GARCIA
Crimes: Murder, rape Sentence: 31 years Details: Rogowski is considered by most one of the great legends of skateboarding, a prominent professional in the sport's heydays of the 1980s and early 1990s. Around 1987, Rogowski (born in 1966) met Jessica Bergsten and Brandi McClain, a model. Rogowski and McClain became an item and a bit of a power couple in skateboarding, but broke up in the early 1990s, reportedly sending Rogowski into jealous rages. On March 21, 1991, after showing Bergsten around San Diego, to where she had just moved, Rogowski struck Bergsten over the head repeatedly in his condo, raped her while she was unconscious, then suffocated her as she awoke and buried her in the desert. Plagued by guilt, he confessed to police weeks later, saying he committed the acts out of misplaced revenge on McClain.
Getty ImagesDoug Pensinger
Jack Roland Murphy
Crimes: Murder, armed robbery Sentence: Two life sentences plus 20 years Details: Murphy was a man of many talents — champion surfer, violinist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at age 15, tennis pro, movie stunt man, circus diver. In 1964, 'Murph the Surf' used his talents to pull off the 'Jewel Heist of the Century,' teaming with two other men to steal 22 gems, including the Star of India, from New York's American Museum of Natural History — the three each received two years. In 1969, he was convicted in the armed robbery of a Miami Beach socialite and involved with another man of killing two women on a yacht after they threatened to talk to police after the four stole $500,000 in stocks. Murphy received two life sentences plus 20 years, but claimed to find God in prison and was released in 1986 and still counsels inmates.
Getty ImagesTim Chapman
Crime: Culpable homicide (overturned to homicide on appeal) Sentence: Five years (could reach 15 after appeal) Details: The Blade Runner achieved global fame after competing in the 400 and 1600 relay at the 2012 London Summer Olympics despite being born with a condition that forced doctors to amputate both legs below the knees as an infant. On Valentine's Day 2013, the 26-year-old South African shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to death in his Pretoria home, claiming he mistook her for an intruder and shot her through a bathroom door, unable to see her in the middle of the night. After a lengthy trial, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide, similar to manslaughter in the United States, as well as one firearm-related crime. But an appeals court on Dec. 3, 2015, overturned that ruling and convicted him of murder.