Yesterday, the New England Patriots released Pro Bowl tight end Aaron Hernandez, following his arraignment in the shooting death of semi-pro player Odin Lloyd. In a statement, the club said the transaction was “simply the right thing to do.”
The seamy underbelly of the sports world, with its ‘roid rages and its ruthless survivalism, has turned up a distressing number of cases in which privileged athletes – often in desperate need of anger-management intervention – have been charged with taking the life of another human being. On the occassion of Hernandez’s arraignment, here are the five most egregious incidents in history.
Ray Lewis (NFL)
Following a Super Bowl party in Atlanta, Georgia in 2000, Lewis and two friends got into an altercation with another group of men. Two individuals, Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, were later stabbed to death. Lewis, who retired this year after winning Super Bowl XLVII with the Baltimore Ravens, testified against his companions. He ultimately served 12 months probation on a reduced charge of obstruction of justice. The white suit Lewis wore on the night of the murders has never been found.
Jayson Williams (NBA)
In February 2002, limosine driver Costas Christofi was shot to death on property owned by Nets power forward Jayson Williams (Christofi had driven Williams’ charity team from an event to the all-star’s estate). Reports claimed Christofi died of a gunshot wound when Williams was showing off a shotgun. After a jury deadlocked, Williams was retried on a manslaughter charge. He wound up pleading guilty to aggravated assault.
Oscar Pistorius (Track & Field)
The first amputee to win a world track medal against able-bodied athletes, South African “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius, was charged in February with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Steenkamp was shot and killed in the early morning hours at Pistorius’ home; the runner, who fired through his bathroom door, claimed in his defense affidavit that he thought the person inside was an intruder.
Carl Mays (MLB)
New York Yankees pitcher Carl Mays was a mean-spirited “submarine”-style pitcher, known for throwing beanballs at batters’ heads. On August 16, 1920, he hit Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman with such force that, according to the New York Times‘ coverage of the incident, Mays “thought the ball hit the handle of Chapman’s bat.” Chapman died the following morning, following surgery. Mays was exonerated by the New York District Attorney, who declared the incident accidental.
OJ Simpson (NFL)
You may have heard something about this case: Simpson, one of the greatest running backs of all time, was acquitted in the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and waiter Ronald Goldman, in 1995. Two years later, he was ordered to pay $33.5 million to the families in a wrongful death conviction in civil court. “The Juice” is currently serving a 33-year prison sentence in Lovelock, Nevada, on unrelated felony convictions.