Lost Talent – Vices that Have Ruined Promising Sports Careers


Even the most talented, world-class athletes have succumbed to destructive vices. Many promising professional sports’ careers have been robbed of success through substance abuse or other addictive behaviors.

Here are some vices and the players that had their careers ruined because of them.

Up in Smoke

Use of illegal drugs has always earned an athlete some form of punishment. Repeat offenders earn a stiffer penalty. One of drug of note, a recreational drug that has proved a vice to many athletes is marijuana.

Football fans who have followed gridiron stars and their careers would probably be aware of the story surrounding Ricky Williams. He won college football’s award as the best player in the nation during his 1998 season at the University of Texas. He was drafted as potentially the next great NFL running back.

As the story goes, at some point during his early years, Williams reportedly chose the ability to smoke over the right to play professional football. A number of other professional athletes have been suspended or dismissed from their teams because of failed drug tests.

While the exact nature of these failed tests isn’t always made public, many mention marijuana use as the reason for the suspension. Most professional sports have league-wide rules that after a number of failed tests, the player is suspended indefinitely.

For many star players, failed drug tests because of marijuana have terminated otherwise promising careers. For some, marijuana is discussed as the first step in their downward spiral. Besides Ricky Williams, there are a number of star athletes whose careers went up in smoke.

Powder in the Wind

There are other drugs that to an addict can be rationalized as harmless recreational fun. With the extraordinary salaries that athletes earn, cost of the high is never a consideration. Cocaine has long been a schedule in drug on nearly everyone’s harmful vice list. The lure of the powder has destroyed a number of careers, not only those of talented athletes.


During a period when cocaine was envisioned as the drug choice of the affluent, names such as Spencer Haywood, Marvin Barnes and David Thompson come to mind. Each of these three talented basketball players had their careers compromised in some way by this vice.

Both Haywood and Barnes were cut from rosters because of their substance abuse, and Thompson was engaged in a highly-speculative night-out-on-the-town when he endured a devastating knee injury that ended his career.

Even though their careers lasted long enough to share a World Series title, both Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry’s struggles with addiction are well-documented. Many people have hit rock bottom due to substance abuse.


Drowned by Alcohol

The previous substances, including other narcotics that aren’t even mentioned, carry the stigma of being illegal. That’s not the case with good old King Alcohol. Beer and booze are legal and often deemed part of the social circle enveloping sports. Many of the players who succumbed to other vices also had issues with alcohol.

There are talented careers cut short for athletes who had booze as their only vice. Three potential hockey superstars were consumed by alcoholism. They are only a trio of hundreds of budding sports careers cut short by alcoholism.

Bob Probert, Derek Boogaard and Philadelphia Flyers goalie Pelle Lindbergh all had their on-ice performance, their careers and even their lives, destroyed by alcohol abuse. The cunning and baffling nature of alcoholism does not discriminate based on athletic talent.

In fact, if truthful, most of the players who had vices ruin their careers all would have at some juncture included alcohol as one of those destructive vices. There are the stories of larger-than-life professional athletes who lost their lives to an addiction. Boogaard is only one example of the ultimate consequence of an untreated addiction.

Professional sports celebrities are only different in the fact that they are just that, celebrities in the public spotlight. They are not the only people with careers and fortunes lost due to substance abuse. There are fantastic stories of recovery by athletes. Invariably, these individuals were directed to find a rehab center to help them with whatever the vice.

Everyone who seeks to recover from substance abuse automatically isn’t gifted back everything that the vice stole from them. It simply doesn’t always work that way. However, those who seek and find help will be able to find a source of strength and support that can guide them forward. If you think you have a substance abuse problem, don’t wait until your career is ruined. Call for help today.



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