Famous sporting icons act as a source of inspiration for children and teenagers alike. These young aspirers often consider a successful athletic career as a quick and easy path to a comfortable and lavish lifestyle.
You would assume being an acclaimed player would bring an influx of enormous wealth and fortune. Thus, it is shocking, sometimes even bizarre, when we hear the news of prominent sporting figures getting caught trying to smuggle tons of narcotics. Time and again, famous athletes get arrested for illegal drug trafficking and distribution.
Here, we will discuss 10 of those cases where beloved sporting personas were convicted for their involvement in drug smuggling.
10. Esteban Loaiza - 2 Times All-Star MLB Player
Esteban Antonio Loaiza Veyna, shortly known as Esteban Loaiza, is a former Mexican professional baseball pitcher. He played in the Major Baseball League for numerous teams and aided them to multiple victories.
Loaiza was considered one of the top pitchers in the league in the early 2000s. As a result, he was selected to the All-Star team twice and was named AL Strikeout leader once.
Nevertheless, success in his professional career did not save Loaiza from legal troubles. On 14th January 2006, officials arrested him for speeding way over the speed limit. Reportedly, he had clocked his Ferrari at 120 mph on the California Freeway.
After failing the sobriety test, Esteban appeared before the judge a month later. He was charged with a paltry sum and freed on the promise of good behavior. However, this would not be the last time he was arrested.
San Diego police caught MLB star, Esteban Loaiza, trying to smuggle over 44 pounds of cocaine. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons.
According to San Diego County Sheriff's Department, Loaiza was captured with over 44 lbs. of cocaine on 9th February 2018. Subsequently, he was charged with felony counts of possession and transportation or sale of narcotics. Following his arrest, Estaban pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to three years on 8th March 2019.
09. Tom McCarthy - Canadian Ice Hockey Professional
Former Canadian player Thomas Joseph McCarthy, widely known as Tom McCarthy, was a notable name in the NHL during the 1980s. He played 460 games in the National Hocker League, aiding his team to numerous victories.
McCarthy was one of only two players selected ahead of Wayne Gretzky in the 1977 OMJHL Midget draft. Gretzky is frequently called the greatest hockey player of all time by colleagues and critics alike. Afterward, the Minnesota North Stars drafted Tom as the 10th overall pick in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft.
After seven seasons with the North Star and two with the Boston Bruins, Tom finished his NHL career with 178 goals and 399 points. However, even after his retirement, the former ice hockey professional didn't cease appearing in the media.
Tom McCarthy was apprehended by US authorities as a suspect in the trafficking of a marijuana-loaded vehicle. Photo Source: Social Media.
While residing in Minnesota, McCarthy got linked with drug dealer Carl Thompsen. He reportedly helped in the transportation of illegal narcotics worth thousands of dollars. However, US officials were getting increasingly suspicious of Tom's activities and were keeping a close eye on him.
Later on, he was arrested for conspiracy to traffic a truck full of marijuana in 1994. Tom was found guilty and sentenced to five years and ten months.
Nevertheless, the NHL star became aware of his crimes and transformed himself during his time in prison. After his release, he started as an ice hockey coach and instructed major teams like the Huntsville Otters and Golden Hawks. Nowadays, he has left coaching and owns a hockey team named Espanola Express.
08. Mercury Morris - Super Bowl Champion
Eugene Edward Morris, nicknamed Mercury Morris, is a former American football running back and kick returner. He had established himself as a prominent figure in the National Football League, winning two Super Bowls and participating in three Pro Bowls.
Morris played for seven years with the Miami Dolphins in the American Football League before it merged to become the NFL. Riding on his massive fandom, Eugene co-starred as Bookie Garrett in The Black Six's blaxploitation film alongside many other football stars.
The NFL player was beloved among the masses and garnered many titles and awards. However, the retired life didn't suit Morris well, as he was convicted of felony drug charges in 1982.
Former American football running back Mercury Morris was arrested for the transportation of cocaine. Photo Source: Social Media.
Morris was caught for the charge of cocaine trafficking. Following his trial, the former American player was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, with a mandatory fifteen-year term.
Nevertheless, two years later, on 6th March, Mercury's conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. According to the official reports, the court had excluded the actual evidence suggesting his entrapment defense under a mistaken characterization as hearsay.
Afterward, Morris was granted a new trial and reached a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Consequently, he was released on 23rd May 1986, after serving three years in prison. Morris later turned into a motivational speaker.
07. Denny McClain - Detroit Tigers Pitcher
Another name on this list is Dennis Dale Mclain, a World Series champion and three-time All-Star player. Better known as Denny McClain, he is an American former baseball player. The athlete played as a pitcher in Major League Baseball for ten consecutive years.
During his prime time with the Detroit Tigers, McClain became the most recent pitcher in MLB to win 30 or more games throughout a season. Furthermore, he was awarded two Cy Young Awards and an American League MVP award for his stellar career.
Sports personality Denny McClain became part of many controversies for his open and bold criticism of fans and colleagues. Photo Source: Social Media.
Dennis was known inside and outside the field as a bold and outspoken athlete. Hence, he has been part of multiple controversies where he has openly criticized teammates and fans. Nonetheless, his involvement in drug smuggling remains a source of contention.
Although Denny was detained multiple times for his felony acts with the crime association, the cocaine trafficking case was the one that the media highlighted the most. Well, he was imprisoned for drug smuggling, theft, and racketeering.
However, Tampa attorneys Arnold Levine and Stevan Northcut, who later became a Florida state appellate judge, represented McClain in Atlanta. His conviction was reversed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Afterward, Denny appeared in various talk shows on TV and radio while rehabilitating and serving his imprisonment in the mid-1980s and the early-1990s.
06. Sam Hurd - Wide Reciever In NFL
Former American wide receiver Samuel George Hurd III is a well-known name in the National Football League. Known among the masses as Sam Hurd, he played college football at Northern Illinois University before getting picked up by the NFL. Afterward, he played for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.
While still playing for the Chicago Bears, NFL powerhouse Sam Hurd was arrested for purchasing and distributing large quantities of cocaine and marijuana. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons.
On 14th December 2011, while he was still playing for the Chicago Bears, Hurd was arrested in Chicago for allegedly trying to purchase and distribute large quantities of cocaine and marijuana. Subsequently, he faced federal drug charges in the Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas.
On 12th January 2012, Hurd found a new attorney and pleaded not guilty for setting up a drug-dealing network. As such, he was let off the hook, and charges were dismissed. Nevertheless, he was caught again after violating his bond by failing two drug tests.
According to official reports, Sam was found guilty of using drugs and failed medical tests on two occasions. His attorney, Jay Ethington, informed him that Hurd was going through tough times and succumbed to pressure.
Later on, a federal judge ordered Sam to be jailed indefinitely. Finally, on 13th November 2013, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Hurd is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Bastrop, Texas.
05. Madiea Ghafoor - Dutch Olympic Athlete
Former track and field athlete Madiea Ghafoor is the only female on this list of athletes involved in drug smuggling. Born and raised in Amsterdam, this dutch athlete once made her country proud but now serves her incarceration.
Although Ghafoor specialized in the women's 400m sprint, she represented her country in other formats. The Pakistani descendent was interested in sports early and participated in many local events before turning professional.
Madiea won a bronze medal at the 2011 European Athletics Junior Championship in Estonia. She was able to achieve this feat in the women's 400m sprint. She also represented the Netherlands in the European Athletics Indoor Championships, reaching up to the semi-finals.
German police caught Dutch Track and field athlete Madiea Ghafoor trying to transport 110 lbs. of drugs. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons.
However, Ghafoor's career was cut short when she was arrested for drug possession during a routine border check near Elten on 18th June 2019. German officials had captured her and were presenting her in the Kleve district. A month later, she was charged with drug smuggling with about 110 lbs. of crystal meth and ecstasy found in her car.
Madiea was convicted by a German court in Kelve and sentenced to eight years and six months in jail. However, the Dutch athlete chose not to appeal her sentence.
04. Floyd Mayweather Sr. - Former Boxer Turned Into Trainer
Former professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Sr. is a surprising name to see on this list. Once known for his defensive abilities, the boxer competed in the welterweight division from 1974 to the 1980s.
Mayweather is known for his overall knowledge of boxing strategy and is respected as one of the best boxing trainers worldwide. As a result, prominent boxing names come to seek the instruction of this legendary coach.
The former boxer is widely credited with training and mentoring his son, Floyd Mayweather. His son went on to become an undefeated five-division boxing champion.
Revered trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. was caught in felony act of trying drug smuggling in 1993. Photo Source: Social Media.
Even though Floyd is famous as a prolific trainer who specializes in defense and stiff jabs, only a handful of people are aware of his felony act of drug smuggling. He was caught when trying to traffic cocaine in 1993. He allegedly worked as part of a drug ring and often smuggled illegal narcotic substances in detergent boxes.
Afterward, the US court convicted Mayweather of his crimes and imprisoned him for five years of the sentence. Following his release of his incarceration, he started training his son, and the rest is history.
03. Christian Hosoi - Former Professional Skateboarder
American ex-skateboarder Christain Hosoi was once on his road to fame and glory. He was a revered name in vertical skateboarding alongside other skateboarding professionals such as Mike McGill, Mark "Gator" Rogowski, and many more.
Nicknamed "Christ" and "Holmes," Christian started skating at the tender age of 7 years. Although he only practiced it as a hobby, he soon realized he was pretty good at it and decided to turn pro. Afterward, he became popular among the masses and was appraised by colleagues and critics alike.
Christian Hosoi, a former American skateboarder, was a rising star before his career was ruined by legal problems. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Nonetheless, Hosoi's career started to falter when he was arrested for two minor offenses in early 1995. He further stopped attending competitions and demos to avoid the eyes of officials and getting captured.
Even though he tried his best to avoid the law and spent his days in hiding, Christian was eventually captured in January 2000 at the Honolulu airport. He was caught attempting to smuggle nearly 1.5 lbs. of crystal methamphetamine.
Later on, the skateboarder confessed that he was trying to transport the drugs from Los Angeles to Honolulu. The US court accused him of trafficking with the intent to distribute and sentenced him to ten years of incarceration.
However, he only served for four years and was freed from the San Bernardino Central Detention Center in June 2004. After his release, he turned into a born-again Christian and became a pastor.
02. Nathan Baggaley - 3 Times World Champion
Former Australian sprint canoeist and surfski champion Nathan Baggaley was previously a revered name in the sports industry. He has been crowned champion of the world in the K1-1500 m events three times. Moreover, he has made his countrymen proud by winning two Olympic Silver Medals.
Although once he was the holder of a prolific career, Nathan's professional journey has been tarnished by multiple drugs scandals and arrests. Initially, he tested positive for the use of banned steroids in September 2005.
Following the incident, he was prohibited from partaking in any professional events for 15 years, which was later extended to two years.
Two time Olympic silver medalist Nathan Baggaley's prolific career ended due to his struggle with drug addiction. Photo Source: Social Media.
Two years later, Baggaley again got in legal trouble when he was caught possessing 762 ecstasy tablets, cannabis, and cash. Consequently, he faced more drug charges of manufacturing and distributing ecstasy. Afterward, Baggaley pleaded guilty and had to pay bail.
Again, in November 2013, the Australian Federal Police captured Nathan and accused him of various counts of conspiracy to import narcotics into Australia. Subsequently, he was placed in custody and officially refused bail. Finally, Nathan pleaded guilty to drug manufacturing and smuggling charges and was sentenced to two years and three months.
Following his release, Nathan was caught again alongside his brother, Dru Anthony, in connection with the attempted importation of 1,300 lbs. of cocaine on 20th June 2019. After pleading not guilty, on 1st April 2021, the duo was found guilty of the crimes. Thus, Baggaley was sentenced to 25 years on 27th July 2021.
01. Darryl Henley - NFL Cornerback
Darryl Keith Henly, better known as Darryl Henley, is a former National Football League athlete. He played as a cornerback in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams. The former American professional had established himself as one of the prominent cornerbacks in the league, amassing 12 interceptions in 76 games.
Henley is a Los Angeles native who attended UCLA for his collegiate football career. As a senior, he was a dynamic returner who also shut down opposing receivers, earning consensus among All-America accolades. In four years with the Bruins, he returned three punts for touchdowns and had seven interceptions on defense.
When Darryl entered the 1989 NFL Draft, the 5-foot-9, 172-pound defensive back appeared to be a lock for a first-round pick. Instead, the Rams selected local talent with the 53rd overall pick. Henley illustrated why the Rams spent a second-round choice on him, despite his diminutive frame.
However, Henley's professional career abruptly ended when he was convicted alongside four others on the charge of trafficking cocaine. Following his confession, the NFL star was sentenced to 20 years for smuggling and distributing illegal narcotics.
Former NFL powerhouse Darryl Henley reportedly hired contract killers to murder the judge and witness. Photo Source: Social Media.
Yet, Darryl's story doesn't end here. Instead, his sentence was extended to 41 years after he was found guilty of hiring contract killers. He reportedly asked a federal undercover agent to murder the judge and the witness for $100,000 each.
The abovementioned are only a fraction of the known cases where famous athletes have attempted to illegally traffic narcotics worth millions of dollars.