As a kid, Donald Brashear wanted to be a boxer. He didn't get his wish exactly, but he came pretty close.
Brashear is now a 36-year-old professional hockey player for the Washington Capitals. Officially, he's a left winger, but he's just as likely to be called an enforcer. He checks hard and punches harder.
Brashear's stats reflect his pugnacious playing style. Through Dec. 19, Brashear had earned 2,487 penalty minutes in 957 career NHL games. He's also on our list of the most suspended athletes in major U.S. team sports over the past dozen years. According to Stats Inc., the winger ranks seventh with six suspensions.
At the top of the list: NBA forward Ron Artest, with 12 suspensions. His most infamous came in the wake of a 2004 rumble between the Indiana Pacers (Artest's team at the time) and the Detroit Pistons. During the brawl, Artest rushed a fan in the stands and punched another one on the court. The NBA kept Artest off the court for the remaining 73 games of the season.
Another athlete on our list is a fellow alumnus of that notorious Pacer-Pistons fracas. Stephen Jackson, who was Artest's teammate at the time, received a 30-game disbarment for tussling with fans.
His most recent suspension came at the start of the 2007-2008 season for firing a gun outside a strip club. To Jackson's credit, he's balanced some of his disciplinary problems with charitable work. The NBA awarded the forward with its Community Assist Award for March this year.
Three other pro basketball players make the list of most suspended athletes. Power forward Kenyon Martin once compared himself to the Incredible Hulk. "Like they say, you wouldn't like me when I'm mad," he told a reporter. He's accumulated nine suspensions.
Rasheed Wallace, who set a league record for technical fouls in a season, has six. The longest came in 2003 when he was shelved for seven games for threatening an official after a game. Kobe Bryant has five. He received two separate ones in 2007 for elbowing players.
After the NBA, the NHL has the most representatives on the list. Like Donald Brashear, Chris Pronger of the Anaheim Ducks has notched six suspensions. His latest came in March after he stomped on the leg of a Vancouver Canuck player lying on the ice.
The NHL ordered him not to suit up for the next eight games. The leg-stomped Canuck wasn't injured, but other players haven't been so lucky. According to ESPN, Pronger was temporarily shut down in 1995 for hitting another player in the throat with a stick and fracturing his thyroid cartilage.
Only one baseball player cracks the top 10: designated hitter Gary Sheffield. He was suspended for four games in September after he charged the mound against the Cleveland Indians and sparked a bench-clearing brawl.
Sheffield, who took some punches in the rumpus, says that some Indians can expect to be personally "penalized" by him. "I don't care about any league thing – what they do. I've got enough money to cover any fine they've got. Trust me."
So keep an eye on Sheffield next season. The slugger is one home run away from a milestone 500 home runs. He could also climb a rung higher on the list of most suspended players.
The top of the list:
1. Ron Artest: Slideshow
2. Kenyon Martin: Slideshow
3t. Chris Pronger: Slideshow
3t. Andre Roy: Slideshow
3t. Stephen Jackson: Slideshow
3t. Rasheed Wallace: Slideshow
3t. Donald Brashear: Slideshow
• See more suspended athletes