In recent years, more and more star athletes have been making news for their plays off the field. Murder, assault, illegal weapons possession, you name it... there are a lot of big athletes in big trouble.
In May 2014, star defensive end Greg Hardy was arrested for assaulting his then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. The NFL suspended him for 10 games, only to have the punishment reduced to 4 games by an arbitrator. The 27-year-old athlete then signed an $11.3 million contract with the Cowboys and the case seemed closed. But in November 2015, nearly 50 photographs surfaced online of Holder with bruises all over her body, and now even Hardy's most ardent defenders are questioning whether his punishment truly fit the crime.
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A black mark for the Blackhawks
In August 2015, EA Sports announced it was removing Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane from the cover of its upcoming video game, "NHL 16," in the wake of sexual assault allegations against him. Kane was supposed to appear on the cover with teammate Jonathan Toews (seen here at right), but the cover will now feature Toews alone.
On September 17, 2015, Kane reported to training camp, insisting he had done nothing wrong and the legal process would prove that.
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Tom Brady hit hard
New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady, who once seemed untouchable, is now among them.
On May 11, 2015, the NFL suspended Brady for four games of the 2015 season, due to his involvement in the DeflateGate scandal, in which members of the Patriots staff intentionally under-inflated footballs to skew games in the Patriots' favor. Brady, however, appealed; and on September 3, 2015, he won.
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Not only did Heisman winner Jameis Winston make news this spring for going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the number one overall draft pick, he also made news for having a lawsuit drafted against him.
Erica Kinsman, a fellow FSU alum, claims that Winston raped her in December 2012; filing a lawsuit against the star athlete for sexual battery and emotional distress last month. Winston, for his part, maintains that the sex was consensual; filing a countersuit against his accuser, May 10, 2015.
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In 2014, Hope Solo -- the longtime goalie of the United States women's national soccer team -- faced two counts of fourth-degree assault for allegedly assaulting her step-sister and nephew while intoxicated.
In January of 2015, these domestic violence charges were dismissed. But the allegations muddied her once pristine image.
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On April 15, 2015, Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.
The former New England Patriots star, who once enjoyed a $40 million contract, now faces life in prison without parole.
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Bad boy golfer Dustin Johnson has been suspended from the PGA tour three times for failing three separate drug tests.
In 2009, he tested positive for marijuana. Then in both 2012 and 2014, he tested positive for cocaine.
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Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson faced jail time in 2014 for striking his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.
This case ignited a national discussion on corporal punishment. Peterson ultimately received a form of probation instead of jail time.
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Oscar Pistorius, who rose to fame for competing at the highest levels of track and field with two prosthetic legs, was put on trial in 2014 for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The South African runner, who even went so far as to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics, confessed to shooting Steenkamp. But he argued that he did so accidentally, confusing her for an intruder.
Pistorius was ultimately found not guilty of murder, but guilty of both culpable homicide and reckless endangerment with a firearm. He received a prison sentence with a maximum of five years, some of which can be served under correctional supervision.
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Lance Armstrong, once considered a legend in men's cycling, was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins and banned from the sport for life in 2012, after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency uncovered "overwhelming" evidence of both Armstrong's own doping and the instrumental role he played in the organization of doping programs for his teammates.
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The Baltimore Ravens cut star running back Ray Rice in 2014 after video surfaced of him knocking his future wife unconscious in an elevator, then dragging her limp body into the hallway.
Rice was indefinitely suspended from the NFL, but that decision was later overturned when Rice won his appeal. This case, however, drew national attention and forced the NFL to beef up its policy against domestic violence.
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In 2012, police charged the then-Detroit Tigers outfielder with assault after he got into a physically altercation with a man at a hotel where he was staying.
Shockingly, the event was later deemed a hate crime after it was revealed that Young shouted anti-Semitic epithets during the fight.
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In 2013, Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov faced third-degree assault charges for allegedly attacking his girlfriend Evgenia Vavrinyuk, who claimed he dragged her by her hair and kicked her repeatedly.
When those charges were later dismissed due to lack of sufficient evidence, Vavrinyuk filed a civil lawsuit against the NHL star in 2014 for what she describes as years of abuse, threats and humiliation.
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As is all too often the case with star athletes, Matt Barnes was arrested in 2010 for domestic abuse.
What makes his case unique is that he was also accused of blocking his girlfriend from using the phone in an attempt to stop her from speaking to 911 operators.
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The Los Angeles Kings defensemen, seen here celebrating his team's 2013 Stanley Cup win, was arraigned in December 2014 on a felony domestic abuse charge for allegedly kicking, punching and choking his wife.
He is indefinitely suspended from the NHL as he awaits trial later this month.
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Tiger Woods was once considered the golden boy of golf. He couldn't lose. He had 14 major championship wins, a model wife and endorsement deals up to his ears.
Then, in the winter of 2009, the women started coming forward. It was revealed that Woods had participated in extensive extramarital affairs. His career thus far has not been the same.
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In the year 2000, while celebrating a win at a nightclub in Atlanta, a fight broke out between NFL star Ray Lewis' party and several other patrons at the club. The brawl continued out into the parking lot where two of Lewis' friends were stabbed to death. Lewis fled the scene and was later arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.
In the trial that ensued, he was ultimately found guilty of obstruction of justice, but eluded two counts of murder by striking a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against two of the other men present that night.
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Steve Elkington, a middle-aged pro-golfer who boasts 10 PGA tour wins and a major title, has come under fire in recent years for his behavior on social media. He has written racially-tinged posts, publicly commented on women's breasts and provoked colleagues into wars on Twitter. Most recently, though, Elkington drew the ire of Twitter Nation for several homophobic tweets about openly gay NFL player Michael Sam.
In one such tweet, posted in February of 2014, Elkington writes, "ESPN covering Michael Sam as a gay athlete is embarrassing." In another, he writes "ESPN reporting Michael Sam is leading the handbag throw at NFL combine... No one else expected to throw today." These words -- believed by many to be in poor taste -- landing Elkington in a different sort of big trouble, but big trouble nonetheless.
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Perhaps one of the most famous cases of big athletes in big trouble, star quarterback Michael Vick was famously sentenced to jail time in 2007 for running a dogfighting ring that electrocuted, drowned and shot dogs who did not meet performance expectations.
He received a harsher sentence than his two co-defendants for being less than truthful in his initial court statements.