Special Report

Famous Athletes Who Ended Up In Prison

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Esteban Loaiza
> Team(s): Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago White Sox
> Convicted of: Drug possession
> Arrested in: 2018
> Sentence: 3 years

Esteban Loaiza was a long-tenured, well-traveled starting pitcher, playing for eight teams in 14 seasons beginning in 1995 and making two All-Star teams. In 2018, he was arrested in California after police found more than 40 pounds of cocaine in a secret compartment in his minivan. Loaiza was sentenced to three years in prison and will be deported to Mexico after serving his time.

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Jayson Williams
> Team(s): New Jersey Nets
> Convicted of: Aggravated assault, DUI
> Arrested in: 2002
> Sentence: 5 years

Jayson Williams’ story may be one of the most bizarre and tragic in sports. An NBA All-Star, his career ended suddenly after he suffered a broken leg in 1999. In 2002, Williams was showing off a shotgun to his chauffeur, Costas “Gus” Christofi, and some friends when the gun went off, striking and killing Christofi. Some of those present testified that Williams told them to help him cover up the shooting. After lengthy criminal proceedings, Williams was sentenced in 2010 to five years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated assault. He served 18 months. He also served an eight-month sentence stemming from a DUI arrest.

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Lenny Dykstra
> Team(s): New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies
> Convicted of: Grand theft auto, bankruptcy fraud, indecent exposure
> Arrested in: 2011
> Sentence: 3 years

Since hanging up his cleats, former Mets and Phillies star Lenny Dykstra has frequently been in the news for criminal issues. In 2012, he was sentenced to three years in prison after using a fake business to claim he had the credit to lease high-end cars. Separately, Dykstra was also convicted of bankruptcy fraud after selling a property that was part of his bankruptcy estate, and he served over six months in prison. Dykstra has faced numerous harassment allegations and received a nine-month sentence for indecent exposure after using Craigslist to lure women who answered an ad for housekeeping work. In 2018, Dykstra was charged with making terroristic threats and for several drug offenses after police said he pulled a gun on an Uber driver.

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Matt Bush
> Team(s): Texas Rangers
> Convicted of: DUI, leaving the scene
> Arrested in: 2012
> Sentence: 4 years, 3 months

Matt Bush’s career very nearly ended before it started. Drafted first overall in the 2004 MLB draft by the San Diego Padres, Bush had a string of alcohol-related incidents that culminated in a 2012 arrest for DUI and leaving the scene of an accident with bodily injury after running over a motorcyclist. The motorcyclist survived but lives with permanent struggles from the accident. Bush was sentenced to 51 months in prison. After being released to a halfway house, an employee of the Texas Rangers saw Bush throwing 95 mph behind his restaurant job and gave him another shot. Bush, now sober, made it to the big leagues where he has been a solid relief pitcher for the Rangers.

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Mercury Morris
> Team(s): Miami Dolphins
> Convicted of: Cocaine trafficking
> Arrested in: 1982
> Sentence: 3 years

Mercury Morris is perhaps best remembered as the starting running back on the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins team. After retirement, Morris was arrested in a 1982 cocaine bust. He was initially convicted on four charges related to drug trafficking. After three years, Morris’s appeals succeeded and his conviction was overturned. He then pled no contest to one charge, sentenced to time served, and released.