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Athletes Who Have Overcome Scandal

"There are no second acts in American lives."
F. Scott Fitzgerald

We hate to disagree with the writer of The Great Gatsby, but indeed there are 2nd acts in American lives & the following Athletes have proven it. They all have fallen to scandal or public ridicule only to rehabilitate their actions & images to carry on their careers & sometimes even better & wiser  than before.

Will Ray Rice get that chance? Time will only tell, but he can look to these athletes as  models in that long road ahead...


Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

LeBron James

After deciding to "take his talents to South Beach" via a completely ego driven special billed as "The Decision" in 2010  LeBron met hate, scorn & derision across the media & public for maybe the 1st time in his career. He didn't break any laws, but was almost universally despised.  LeBron tried everything including embracing the villain role. It all backfired until he was able to grab back to back NBA Championships with the Heat and eventually made a "sort of" apology before heading back to Cleveland in 2014.

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)


Michael Phelps

The pride of Baltimore & the USA & the most decorated Olympian ever wasn't doing so swimmingly when photos of him partaking in bong hits at a party caused a national scandal in 2009. Suffering a 3 month suspension from USA Swimming & the loss of Kellogg as a sponsor in addition to public outcry, Phelps admitted the photo was of  him.  He publicly apologized & went on to resume his amazing career. Phelps came out of retirement in 2014.

(Credit: AP) (Credit: AP)


Kobe Bryant

The Lakers all-star & perennial fan favorite took a major blow to his rep when he was accused of sexual assault in 2004. The media went into feeding frenzy mode.  Kobe held hard to watch, lip smacking  press conferences. The public & sponsors like Nike, Coke & McDonald's quickly stepped away from the former prince of the NBA. Eventually he was acquitted of all charges, switched his jersey # from 8 to 24,  picked up a few more championships & an MVP award & he was back on top.

Michael Vick
(Credit: Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images)


Michael Vick

The Atlanta Falcon's 2001 #1 draft pick was a sensation in the NFL. Going 1st overall he justified his standing with electric play & blazing speed on the field. A fan & sports writer's favorite it all changed in 2007 when Vick plead guilty to charges of being involved in a dog-fighting ring & was sentenced to 23 months in prison. The Falcons released Vick during his incarceration, but upon his release in 2009  & after 2 years away from the game the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to a 1 year contract. Bringing him back in 2010 Vick led the Eagles to a 10-6 record & the NFC East title.  Some fans will never forget or forgive his atrocious acts, but for the most part Michael Vick reclaimed his spot as a premiere QB & currently is on the NY Jets roster.

Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens
Ray Lewis, former linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

Ray Lewis

Ray Rice really need look no further than his former teammate for inspiration. Ray Lewis was the top-rated inside linebacker in the 1996 NFL Draft & quickly became viewed  as one of the best defenders in the NFL. That all changed after a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta in 2000 when a fight broke out between his companions & other party goers. When it was said &  done 2 young men were dead & Lewis was on TV indicted with murder wearing the infamous orange jumpsuit. The charges were eventually dropped as Lewis testified against his companions and received a misdemeanor charge of Obstruction Of Justice for his role.

The following year Lewis was named Super Bowl XXXV MVP as the Ravens won the NFL championship. Lewis turned around his life, focused on his profession & eventually became a mentor to many young NFL players looking for life lessons & wisdom and also became a leader on his team & in his community. Lewis went on to become arguably the greatest inside LB ever to play the game & retired after the Ravens 2012 Super Bowl title. He has been endorsed by many brands, notably in hilarious Old Spice commercials. He is currently an ESPN commentator & a lock for as a 1st ballot hall of fame induction in addition to having a statue of his likeness at the entrance to Ravens Stadium.


Chris Spiridigliozzi
Web Administrator for CBS Radio Baltimore - Ravens, Orioles & snark enthusiast.

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