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Top Five Athletes Whose Careers Were Ruined By Drugs

Josh Hamilton, Baseball

The first overall draft pick in 1999 by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who promptly signed him to a then-record $3.96 million signing bonus.  At the beginning of the 2001 season his career began falling to ruins right in front of his eyes due to drugs and injuries.  During the 2001 and 2002 seasons he played only a total of 83 games.  At the start of the 2003 season, Hamilton took six weeks off, later admitting that during that span that he tried every drug he could get his hands on.  He continued using drugs, was subsequently suspended, and not allowed to play between the 2004 and 2006 seasons.  Josh Hamilton though has made a comeback, winning the American League Most Valuable Player award in 2010 and recently signing a 5-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels.  Still, his career to date would have been much greater if drugs weren’t apart of his game.


John Daly, Golf

In 1987 Daly turned pro, joining the PGA Tour in 1991.  He has won two majors in his career, the 1991 PGA Championship and the 1995 British Open.  The former was the primary reason he was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1991.  But Daly’s dream career began turning into a nightmare shortly thereafter.  He was suspended multiple times from the PGA and disqualified from numerous tours because of excessive alcohol abuse.  He made several attempts to get his act together but has thus far been unable to stay clean.  Daly could have been one of the greats, but enjoyed swigging the bottle more than he did swinging his 5 iron.


Len Bias, Basketball

An All-American for the University of Maryland, Bias shined on the basketball court like few others before or since; his all-around athleticism prompting many to compare him to Michael Jordan, who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls just two years before him. While comparisons with Jordan may have seemed optimistic, it must be remembered that Jordan was still in the early stages of his pro career at that time.

Nevertheless, Bias made a similar impression on the fans, writers, and coaches of the ACC, leading to his selection by the Boston Celtics just nine days after the team won its 16th NBA championship.  He was the second overall pick with a very bright future ahead of him.  Sadly he would never play a game in the pros due to a cocaine overdose that led to his death just two days after being drafted.  Whether Bias would have lived up to the comparisons to Michael Jordan will never be known, a loss for both the Boston Celtics and the game of basketball itself.


Steve Howe, Baseball

Howe was a first round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1979 draft, coming out of the University of Michigan, winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1980 and recording the final out of the World Series the following year.  Howe’s problems with cocaine and alcohol abuse began to arise shortly thereafter (he later claimed to have no memory of recording the final out of the 1981 World Series due to his inebriation at the time) and he checked himself into a substance abuse clinic in 1983.  He was suspended for the 1984 season because of a relapse and again in 1986, and Texas released him before the 1988 season for a reported alcohol problem.  During the 1992 season, he became the second Major League Baseball player to be banned for life because of drugs, which he later successfully appealed.  He came back to the pros for a short time before being killed in a car crash in 2006, nine years after he threw his last pitch in the majors.  Toxicology reports indicated he had methamphetamine in his system.


Roy Tarpley, Basketball

Seventh overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 1986 NBA draft, the same draft that saw Len Bias’s selection by the Boston Celtics, Tarpley was a great prospect for the team as both a prodigious scoring and rebounding power forward.  Unfortunately, his career all but ended after he was suspended in 1991 for the third time in two seasons by the NBA for DWI and failing a drug test.  Subsequent to his expulsion, Tarpley played in Europe for some time and then was allowed to come back to the NBA until 1995 when he violated the organizations policies again for alcohol.  Tarpley applied for reinstatement one last time in 2003, but would never play in the NBA again.  He averaged 12.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per-game for his brief-but-impressive career.


Works Cited:

  1. Tropf, Zach. “Athletes Who Damaged Their Careers with Drug Abuse.” GUNAXIN. Gunaxin Media LLC, 13 Nov. 2008. Web. 23 Jan. 2013.
  2. Roy Tarpley.  NBA.com.  n.a.  Web.  24 January 2013.

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Filed under: Addiction, Celebrity News · Tags: abuse, Addiction, alcohol, Alcohol and Drugs, athletes, athletics, baseball, Basketball, cocaine, Disqualified, Golf, John Daly, Josh Hamilton, Len Bias, methamphetamine, MLB, nba, PGA, Roy Tarpley, Steve Howe, Suspension

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