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'Almost A War Zone Out There'; Pittsburgh's South Side Back In The Spotlight As Center Of Controversy For Pittsburgh Athletes

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- While it may be famous for its vast array of bars, restaurants, tattoo parlors, and often being the destination of those looking for a fun night out, Pittsburgh's South Side is gaining a new notoriety -- for being a place where Pittsburgh celebrities and athletes alike find themselves in trouble.

Simple Assault Charges

Former Pitt football star Rashad Weaver was charged with assault on the same weekend he was drafted into the NFL.

Rashad Weaver Practice
Photo Credit: KDKA Sports Reporter Rich Walsh

Police say back on April 18, Weaver punched a woman after an argument at the Foxtail Bar on the South Side. The woman later told police she had to receive treatment at a local hospital for a concussion she sustained.

Weaver was back home in Florida this weekend as he was drafted by the Tennessee Titans.

He has a court date back here in Pittsburgh on October 5.

Accused Of Assault

NFL star Aaron Donald, a former Pitt player and Penn Hills native, was also among a long list of college and professional athletes to find themselves embroiled in controversy or legal trouble after being involved in different types of incidents on Pittsburgh's South Side.

Earlier this week, Aaron Donald was accused of assaulting another man at a South Side after-hours club.

de vincent spriggs
(Photo Courtesy: Todd Hollis)

DeVincent Spriggs alleged the assault took place in the overnight hours on April 10 and April 11, but Donald's attorney later claimed that not only did his client not assault Spriggs, but that he actually saved him from further injury.

WATCH: Surveillance Video Of Incident Involving Aaron Donald


Apology Issued

After surveillance video of the incident was released, Spriggs' attorney apologized to Donald on behalf of his client, saying that Spriggs mistook Donald for someone else.

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No charges have been filed against anyone at this time, and Spriggs' attorney tells KDKA they are not planning to pursue lawsuits against anyone involved.

"Almost A War Zone Out There"

As the news of the allegations lobbied against Aaron Donald made local and national headlines, former NFL punter and Plum native Pat McAfee discussed the South Side and its reputation on his radio show.

In a video segment from October 2020 when McAfee interviewed former Steelers player Ike Taylor, McAfee referenced the need to "keep your head on a swivel down there."

McAfee, in a new segment on his show, went on to describe the South Side, calling it "Bourbon Street, but bigger."

When comparing Pittsburgh's popular destination to places like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Broadway in Nashville, a similar stretch in Chicago, and Greektown in Detroit, McAfee said that the South Side is the longest, but went on to say that the South Side is also the "grittiest."

McAfee also described what the early morning hours can be like on the South Side. (Warning: Explicit Language)

McAfee described the setup of the South Side along with a reputation that Pittsburghers are known for and said "you can see how there is the  potential at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., it's almost a war zone out there."

Aaron Donald is far from the first Pittsburgh athlete to find himself centered in controversy on Pittsburgh's South Side, however.

Numerous former Steelers players, coaches, and a Pitt player are among those to also make headlines along Carson Street.

Waived Following An Arrest

In December of 2019, Kameron Kelly was arrested after refusing to leave Mario's South Side Saloon.

He was also accused of threatening an employee, and then resisting an officer's attempts to put him into handcuffs.

kameron kelly mug
(Photo Credit: Allegheny County)

Kelly was cut from the Steelers following the arrest.

Arrested After A Playoff Game

In 2017, former Steelers player and assistant coach Joey Porter was arrested hours after the team won a playoff game against the Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field. 

Porter, an outside linebackers coach with the Steelers at the time, was arrested outside of The Flats, after he was accused of assaulting a doorman and an off-duty police officer who had been working a security detail.

joey porter
(Source: Allegheny County Jail)

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Porter was taken to jail and initially charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and public drunkenness.

Photo: KDKA

Following the arrest, Porter was placed on leave by the team.

After reviewing surveillance video of the incident, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office reduced the charges, only pursuing the disorderly conduct and public drunkenness charges.

Following the reduction in charges, Porter's status with the team was reinstated.

Stabbed On The South Side

In 2013, former Steelers offensive lineman Mike Adams was stabbed on East Carson Street in an attempted carjacking.

Adams was stabbed in his abdomen and forearm and underwent surgery at UPMC Mercy Hospital.

The two men who were charged in the stabbing were sentenced a year later.

An Early Morning Joy Ride

In 2012, Steelers rookie Alameda Ta'amu had an eventful night on the South Side.

(Photo Credit: Joe Deasy)

Ta'amu was arrested early on a Sunday morning after being accused of:

  • Leading police on a chase
  • Driving drunk
  • Crashing into parked cars
  • Injuring a woman
  • Needing four officers to restrain him before being placed in custody.
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Ta'amu ended up facing 15 charges and was suspended by the Steelers for two games.

The Steelers released Ta'amu approximately one month later, but the team said the release had nothing to do with his arrest.

Several months later, Ta'amu reached a plea deal, admitting guilt to DUI and recklessly endangering the welfare of others, while the more serious aggravated assault charges were dropped.

Ta'amu was sentenced to four days incarceration to be served in an alternative program and 18 months probation.

Thrown Through A Glass Door

In 2010, Pitt defensive end and current NFL player Jabaal Sheard was involved in a fight on East Carson Street.

Sheard was pepper sprayed by police after fighting with another man and throwing the man through the glass door to an art gallery.

Sheard was jailed on aggravated assault charges.

Sheard was suspended by Pitt following the arrest, but was reinstated after pleading guilty to reduced misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges. 

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