The 10 Biggest Falls From Grace

May 22, 2008 – 4:09 am by Ryan Phillips

It was a dark day here at Rumors and Rants Wednesday. The downward spiral of our once beautiful, delicate flower is now complete…Jessica Alba got married to a guy who actually refers to himself as “Cash.” Yes, as has been speculated ever since he planted his demon seed in her womb, Cash Warren married Alba yesterday at the Beverly Hills courthouse. Thus completes one of the craziest plummets in the history of the planet. Just over a year ago, Alba was arguably the hottest chick on the planet. She was so scorching that she could actually make you consider watching “Honey” and “Into the Blue” when you click past them on USA.

Then, we found out that Derek Jeter gave her genital herpes. Then she got pregnant. Then, the cherry on top, she’ll actually be referred to as Mrs. Cash Warren from now on. What kind of a world do we live in?

Ms. Alba’s drop from amazing to astonishing made us think of the greatest personality collapses we’ve witnessed. Athletes and celebrities have long gone from the top of the world to the bottom of the gutter. Here’s our list of the top 10 falls from grace during out lifetimes.

10. Isiah Thomas
Over the past 14 years, Thomas has gone from one of the greatest point guards of all-time and a member of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History list, to an utter disaster and punch-line in the basketball world. On the court, Isiah’s accolades are almost too numerous to count. He was named to the 1980 Olympic team (which eventually boycotted the Moscow games) and was the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in 1981 after leading Indiana to a title. He was also a 12-time NBA All-Star, three-time First Team All-NBA selection, two-time All-Star Game MVP, two-time NBA Champion, 1990 NBA Finals MVP and was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.

And it’s been all down hill from there. In 1998 he bought the CBA and within two years the league went belly-up, many people say it was due to his mismanagement. From 2000-2003 he coached an incredibly talented Indiana Pacers team into the depths of mediocrity. And his exploits after becoming President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks are well documented. It has been a stunning collapse from the guy once nicknamed everything from “Zeke” to “The Baby-faced Assassin.” Now a more appropriate moniker would be “The Sexually Harassing Boob, Who’ll Waste Your Money To A Record Degree, While Driving Your Franchise Into The Ground.” Can someone work on an abbreviated version of that?

9. Dave Chappelle
Chappelle was a funny but middling comedian until he got his own sketch comedy show on Comedy Central in 2003. “Chappelle’s Show” started slowly, but thanks to wildly popular and hilarious sketches like “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories”, “A Moment in the Life of Lil John” and the story of Clayton Bigsby (a blind, black man who was a white supremacist), the show went from critical darling and cult hit to commercial success. The first season’s DVD set became the best-selling DVD of a television show to day, overtaking the previous best, The Simpsons first season. The show was such a success that Viacom inked the star to a two-year, $55 million contract that even gave Chappelle a portion of the DVD sales.

Then, all hell broke loose. Chappelle basically went insane while preparing to write the third season. At a June 2004 stand-up performance in Sacramento, he walked off stage because the crowd was yelling catchphrases from the show. The third season was scheduled to air on May 31, 2005, but Chappelle abruptly left during production. He claims he was unhappy with the show’s direction. He left the country and visited South Africa for some time, most people feel he was dealing with depression after cracking under the pressure of duplicating the show’s success. Since then, Chappelle has virtually disappeared from show business and has only given rambling interviews and half-answers regarding his decision. He went from one of the hottest pop culture icons of his era, to invisible in the span of less than a year.

8. Pete Rose
“Charlie Hustle” was one of the most beloved players in major league history for “being scrappy” and “playing the game the right way.” He played from 1963 to 1986, and his assault on the baseball record books was astonishing. He’s the all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at bats (14,053) and outs (10,328). He won three World Series, three batting titles, one MVP, two Gold Gloves and the Rookie of the Year Award. He also made 17 All-Star appearances at a record five different positions (2B, LF, RF, 3B and 1B). He retired in 1986 as an icon, and to some, a hero.

Within three years of retiring, Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball for gambling on games while playing for and managing the Reds. Some accusations claimed he bet on, and even against, the Reds numerous times. In 1991 the Hall of Fame formally voted to exclude individuals on the permanently ineligible list from being inducted. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, Rose publicly denied better on baseball for roughly 15 years following his banishment. He claimed he was coerced into signing the agreement. In 2004, he finally admitted that everything in the Dowd Report about his gambling activities was true, further cementing his status as a pariah in baseball circles. Had he just admitted his mistakes publicly and apologized for them, he might have earned a ticket back into baseball’s good graced. He didn’t and, just like Barry Bonds, he’ll be remembered more for his transgressions than this achievements.

7. Lindsey Lohan
After scoring hits in a remake of “Freaky Friday,” “Mean Girls” and “Herby Fully Loaded” Lohan was the newest teen queen on the block. Though I never really thought she was incredibly hot, her flawless body (complete with insane curves) had men all across the country drooling and girls wanting to be her. Producers were similarly drooling over her looks, apparent comedic chops and actual acting talent. She also started a music career in 2002 and released her first album in 2004. The stuff was the definition of “crap” but her debut album “Speak” went platinum. Basically, by the summer of 2005, Lohan could have written her own ticket in Hollywood.

Then, in October 2005 began a series of run-ins with the police when she was in a car accident that was likely her fault. In July, 2006 the filming of “Georgia Rule” had to be delayed while she was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital for treatment of “overheating and dehydration” which virtually everyone agrees was because she was constantly partying and rarely sober. On January 18, 2007 she checked herself into the Wonderland Center, her first of three rehab stays during the year. On May 26, 2007 she was arrested when she lost control of her Mercedes and drove the vehicle up on a curb. Police found a “useable” amount of cocaine in the car and she was arrested. On July 24, 2007 she was arrested on felony charges of possession and transportation of a narcotic, driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. On August 23, 2007 she served one day in jail and 10 days community service for both her DUI arrests. On top of all that, Lohan’s latest movies have tanked and studios have refused to hire her because of the stigma attached to her name. And her drunken antics and the public details that have emerged about her sex life, have ensured that she’ll probably never be able to play a sympathetic character again.

6. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa
Who can forget 1998? The story of the year that saved baseball centered around the friendly rivalry of two mammoth sluggers pursuing the most hallowed record in sports – baseball’s single-season home run record. The big smiles from Sosa, the quiet focus of McGwire and their growing friendship captured the attention of the nation and had us all on the edge of our seats. In the end, McGwire slugged 70 while Sosa finished with 66 and an MVP trophy. They both also shared “Sportsman of the Year” honors and Sosa was given a ticker-tape parade in New York City and he was invited to be a guest at President Clinton’s 1999 State of the Union Address. Both were rewarded with big contracts before the 1999 season. Sosa celebrated by hitting 63 home runs, while McGwire slugged 65. McGwire retired after the 2001 season because of chronic injury issues. Still, he was held up as one of the most revered figures in sports at the time.

On June 3, 2003 the downfall started for both of these men. Sosa was ejected from a Chicago Cubs – Tampa Bay Devil Rays game when umpires discovered he was using a corked bat. After his production quickly declined during a tough 2004 campaign, he requested to sit out the final game of the season, he then left the stadium early on that day and the Cubs had had enough. They traded him to the Orioles in January of 2005 with no regrets. On March 17, 2005 both men were subpoenaed to testify at a congressional hearing on steroids. McGwire refused to “talk about the past,” while Sosa suddenly forgot how to speak English. Following that, both players have been accepted as products of the steroid-era. Despite his 583 career home runs and retiring as a sure Hall of Famer, McGwire was not close to being elected in his first shot in 2007. Sosa on the other hand has become a pariah and has struggled to stick with a team despite having 609 career home runs.

5. Britney Spears
We all know this story. She’s sold over 31 million albums since starting her music career in 1998. She’s won a Grammy and been one of the most recognizable sex symbols in the world. She’s had 12 No. 1 hit singles, numerous huge endorsement deals and had the perfect relationship with her fellow Mickey Mouse Club member, Justin Timberlake. She had the perfect life…until 2002.

Timberlake dumped her, reportedly due to her being unfaithful. Then she was rumored to have had a brief relationship with Fred Durst. Those allegations came at the same time that rumors of her wild partying and smoking uncontrollably, came to light. On January 3, 2004 Spears’ drunken antics came to a head when she married childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander at The Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. Fifty-five hours and one annulment later, Spears’ good-girl image was gone forever. In July 2004, she announced her engagement to “wigger” and apparently the most potent man on the planet, Kevin Federline. Since then she’s had two kids, several rehab stints, gotten divorced, shaved her head and failed in a comeback attempt. Oh, and she lost custody of both kids for a time and was ruled incapable of handling her own financial affairs. Basically, she’s bat-shit insane and has serious drug and alcohol problems. Oh, and she might have lost a significant portion of her once ridiculous fortune.

4. Michael Vick
After an incredible, highlight-laden two-year career at Virginia Tech, the Atlanta Falcons made Michael Vick the No. 1 pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. In his first year as a starter (2002), Vick became a bona fide star and MVP candidate as he led the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick was clearly the league’s brightest star because of his incredible talent and the amazing highlights he produced. He was said to be a groundbreaking player at the quarterback position. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2002, 2004 and 2005 despite struggling with several (mostly minor) injuries. On December 23, 2004 Vick signed a 10-year, $130 million contract with the Falcons, with a $37 million signing bonus, making him the highest paid player in NFL history. Then the good stuff starts.

In March 2005, a woman named Sonya Elliott filed a civil lawsuit against Vick alleging she contracted genital herpes from Vick in 2002, and that he failed to inform her that he had the disease. She also alleged that he had visited various clinics under the hilarious alias of “Ron Mexico” to get treatments and therefore obviously knew he had the disease. The suit was settled out of court. Then in 2006 following a loss to the New Orleans Saints, Vick made an “obscene gesture” in reaction to fans booing him as he left the field. On January 17, 2007 at Miami International Airport, Vick surrendered a water bottle which had a hidden compartment for storing marijuana. Oh and then there’s the whole dogfighting thing (you might have heard about it) for which he’s currently serving 12-23 months in prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

3. Mike Tyson
Tyson won his first 37 professional fights, 32 by knockout. He won the WBC heavyweight title at age of 20 years and four months, becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history. It took him just just 20 months and 28 fights after turning professional to capture the title. He unified the horribly splintered heavyweight division by knocking out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds in 1988. He became the most marketable athlete of his day and even had one of the greatest video games ever centered around him. At the height of his career he was widely considered the most dominant fighter of all-time.

Then he let Don King control his money, married Robin Givens and didn’t take a 42-to-1 underdog seriously. He was famously knocked out by Douglas in the biggest upset in boxing history, his marriage to Givens fell apart amid allegations of abuse and King continued to siphon away Tyson’s gigantic fortune. Then came the conviction for rape in 1992 and the subsequent three-year stint in prison. When he emerged Tyson was a shadow of his former self. Since his release he’s 9-5 with two no contests and virtually every fight has been a circus. He also bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear and chomped Lennox Lewis’ leg at a press conference. He also filed for bankruptcy in 2003 and is said to have squandered nearly all of his $300 million in-ring earnings. To add insult to injury in 2007 he pleaded guilty to possession of narcotics and driving under the influence. He’s truly one of the saddest stories in the history of sports.

2. Jessica Alba
To recap: Went from hottest chick on the planet to the herpres-infected, pregnant wife of Cash Warren. Just let that sit with you for a bit.

1. O.J. Simpson
One of the greatest college running back of all-time, “The Juice” became one of the most famous athletes on the planet as well as one of the best. He won a Heisman Trophy at USC, before starting a 10-year career during which he went to six Pro Bowls, had five All-Pro selections and was the 1973 NFL MVP and 1973 AP Male Athlete of the Year. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. He was able to parlay his on-field fame into successful endorsement and acting careers. He was one of the most recognizable and beloved American celebrities for over two decades.

Then he (allegedly) killed his wife and her “friend” in 1994 and the lengthy court case that ensued was a cultural phenomenon. He was eventually acquitted of all charges despite a mountain of forensic and circumstantial evidence that pointed to his guilt. He was convicted of “wrongful death” in a civil case against the Brown and Goldman families that, in theory, should have left him destitute. Over the next few years he continued to look for the real killers on golf courses across the country before further dragging the case through the mud by the announcement that he wrote a book called “If I Did It” which was a quasi-confession of the murders. Already shunned by 99 percent of the population, Simpson further engendered hatred in September 2007 by his arrest for robbery. He will stand trial for 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery and several other felony charges. He could face more than 60 years in prison.

Others receiving votes: Roger Clemens, Shawn Kemp, Steve Guttenberg, R. Kelly, Ryan Leaf, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Steven Seagal, Nomar Garciaparra, Gary Glitter and Mark Prior.

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  1. 4 Responses to “The 10 Biggest Falls From Grace”

  2. good work man

    By Paterno Lives! on May 22, 2008

  3. Note to Self: Never have sex with an athlete.

    By Red on May 22, 2008

  4. I don’t think Isiah ever won an Olympic medal. The US boycotted the 1980 Olympics, he wasn’t on the Dream Team and he retired in 1994 so he wasn’t on the 1996 tea.

    By Tom on May 22, 2008

  5. Tom,
    Yeah you’re right, someone pointed that out to me. He was on the 1980 roster but, obviously didn’t end up going. I edited it.

    By Phillips on May 22, 2008

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