Top 10 most infamous sports criminals

It seems every week some professional athlete is finding him/herself on the wrong side of the law. Is it just the increased media focus, or are more and more athletes stepping outside the confines of what is legal?

Regardless of the answer, it is clear that over the years, athletes have racked up every type of charge possible: drunk driving, assault, domestic abuse, drug possession, robbery, tax evasion, drunk boating, manslaughter, drug tracking, attempted murder, sexual assault, rape, and even murder.

With the recent news that’s surfaced around illegal performance-enhancing drug use from Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada, accusations against Roberto Alomar coming from his ex-girlfriend, and continuing twists and turns in the investigation of Barry Bonds, it would be easy to think that the past few weeks have been particularly unsavory in terms of athletes behaving badly. But looking back at the history of professional sports, these three are hardly the first or worst offenders. Those accolades are reserved for our list of the top 10 most infamous sports criminals.

Click here for more criminal athletes
In Pictures: America’s most infamous sports criminals

With O.J. Simpson’s recent conviction, we can’t help but to remember back to his first trial, and everything that has happened since. But O.J. is just one of the top 10.

To get an idea of how long of a list there was to choose from, take a look at who we left off. Ray Lewis, one of the best linebackers in NFL history, was charged with double murder, pled guilty to obstruction of justice. No Lawrence Phillips, who ran down three teenagers in his SUV after a pick-up football game.

Multiple-charge offenders, such as Daryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Michael Irvin, Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, and Chris Henry, were not quite dubious enough to make the infamous inventory. Also absent were the drug traffickers: not even Nate Newton, who was caught with 213 pounds of marijuana, and then, just five weeks later, was caught with another 175 pounds of pot.

With omissions that could make an episode of “The Wire” seem tame, it begs the questions: exactly who did make the top 10?

The top five:

1. O.J. Simpson: Slideshow
2. Tonya Harding: Slideshow
3. Rae Carruth: Slideshow
4. Michael Vick: Slideshow
5. Mike Tyson: Slideshow
See more athletes

In Pictures: America’s most infamous sports criminals

Updated Wednesday, Feb 25, 2009