10 Former Professional Athletes Currently Serving Time

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Former Yankees' standout pitcher Brien Taylor is widely accepted as one of the biggest disappointments in Major League Baseball history. Now, he's known as one of the game's most notorious criminals. Next week, the former number 1 pick will be sentenced to between 5 and 40 years in prison after he pleaded guilty this summer to distributing crack cocaine. Now 40, Taylor has been incarcerated since his March arrest.

What was once a promising start to a young career has turned into the latest tragic story of a former pro getting himself involved in the wrong side of the law. Here's a look back at 10 other players who are now serving time in prison.

1. Ugueth Urbina


The former closer was sentenced in Venezuela in 2007 to 14-plus years in prison for the attempted murder of five workers on his ranch. The attacks by several men were particularly severe—involving machetes and pouring gasoline on their victims. Their crime? Urbina accused them of stealing a gun from him.

2. Dave Meggett


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Meggett was sentenced to 30 years in 2010 for criminal sexual conduct and burglary stemming from an encounter he had with a college student the year before. His defense argued that the sex was consensual. The three-time All-Pro and one-time Super Bowl champion's legacy has been overshadowed by a series of troubling episodes during his playing days and afterward. In 2007, he was convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery and served a two-year probation period.

3. Lawrence Phillips


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In 2008, the former running back was sentenced to 10 years (eventually reduced to 7) in prison on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. Three years earlier, he had driven onto a field and struck three kids with his car. Reports indicated that he had been upset after losing a pickup football game and then suspected them of stealing his possessions. In 2009, Phillips was sentenced to 25 years in prison on a separate conviction for assault and other charges, for a total term of more than 31 years.

4. Mel Hall


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Former outfielder Mel Hall got 45 years in prison in 2009 after he was convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl that he coached on a basketball team. During the sentencing, other accusers came forward to say that Hall had carried on inappropriate relationships with them as well. "We believe that the verdict does on some level show that the jury understood," said the prosecutor after the trial. "They looked in these girls' eyes and said this is worth 40 years, and we agree with them." After half of his prison term, he will be eligible for parole.

5. Rae Carruth


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The promising young Panthers' receiver had his career go off the rails in 2001 when he was sentenced to more than 18 years in prison for arranging the death of the woman pregnant with his child. Miraculously, the child survived the shooting that took his mother's life. At the time of her death, the victiim, Cherica Adams, was trailing Carruth's car in her own vehicle when Carruth suddenly stopped and a shooter emerged alongside her in a third car. Then Carruth drove off. Adams survived long enough to call 911 and describe the events of the evening. Two others were also apprehended and are in prison.

6. Eddie Johnson

Once a prominent player in the NBA, Johnson was kicked out of the league in 1987 after failing to stomp out his drug addiction. "Fast Eddie" Johnson boasted a career average of 15.1 points per game during his career, but his demons ultimately got the best of him. In total, he also posted 100 arrests and several stints in prison. In 2006, Johnson was arrested for burglary and sexual battery and molestation of an 8-year-old girl. He received a life sentence without parole. "I don't blame anybody for what happened to me but myself. I could make excuses, but there's no excuse," Johnson told USA Today in 2006.

7. Robert Rozier

He only played six games as a pro for St. Louis before being released over drug use, but it was Rozier's off-the-field behavior that earned him attention. After serving a six-month prison sentence in the 1980s, Rozier found God, moved into Yahweh ben Yahweh's "Temple of Love," and renamed himself "Neariah Israel", or child of god. Then, he joined "The Brotherhood," which carried out some murders, but Rozier testified against Yahweh and received a lighter sentence of 22 years in prison, of which he served 10 before his release in 1996. After being caught several years later for writing bad checks, he wound up back in the slammer, serving 25 years to life.

8. Cecil Collins


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In 2003, former Miami Dolphins' running back Cecil Collins was sent back to prison for 15 years after he admitted to breaking into the apartment of a woman he knew in order to watch her sleep. Sentencing didn't come without controversy: A state appeals court had thrown out the original 15-year sentence he was given back in 1999 after the judge ruled it unfair that Collins's relatives didn't have a chance to testify on his behalf. But after the judge lost her seat, the replacement wasn't as forgiving and did not change the original sentence.

9. Jay Vincent


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Last year, the former NBA player was sentenced to more than five years in prison and ordered to pay more than $110,000 to the IRS for his part in a fraud case. Vincent and others scammed 20,000 people by falsely making them certified home inspectors. Vincent apologized in federal court and was ordered to repay the government for what he stole. During Vincent's trial, Magic Johnson came forward to explain how "incredibly remorseful" his former Michaigan State teammate was over his actions. That message may have been hard to stomach considering Vincent was caught "writing, or causing others to write, bad checks in a different scheme while free on bond."

10. Darryl Henley


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The relatively unknown cornerback was drafted by the Rams in 1989 out of UCLA after being named an All-American. He totaled 12 interceptions in his 76-game career. But after Henley left the game, his life began to fall apart. He's currently serving a 41-year sentence for cocaine trafficking charges. To make matters worse, Henley hired a hitman to murder his sentencing judge and a witness in the drug case."A physical move to step away from past relationships that have already proven to be dangerous, and sometimes disastrous, is the only way for you to go," Henley wrote in a letter in 2008. "It is your life and you alone are responsible for it."

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November 2, 2012 - 8:12am
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