Over the years, we as a people have idolized professional athletes to a nearly absurd extent. These men and women who strive each and every day to entertain us with their physical prowess are still very much like us in that they have personal struggles too.
On Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, former NFL star Junior Seau drove his SUV off a 30 foot cliff in Carlsbad, Calif.. Earlier that day at around midnight, Seau was taken to prison on suspicion of domestic violence. He was released in the early hours on Monday and subsequently ran his Cadillac Escalade off the cliff. Some suspect it was an attempt on his own life, while the official statement is that he fell asleep behind the wheel.
Junior Seau is not the only professional athlete whose life has been riddled with strife. Mike Tyson is another who suffered greatly in his personal life when his young daughter died in their home. Tyson’s daughter Exodus was only four years old and had to be taken off life support early last year after being accidentally strangled by a power cord on a piece of exercise equipment. Tyson is now expecting child number eight.
Another athlete plagued by personal issues is Michael Phelps, who was caught in a photo smoking marijuana from a bong. Phelps was subsequently dropped from multiple ad campaigns across the world and was virtually shunned by all those who had rooted him on to triumph during the 2008 Olympic games. Phelps cited the misstep as a temporary lapse in judgment, but was none the less scrutinized for his actions, which were, at best, reprehensive.
Yet another professional athlete whose personal life is wracked with hardship is that of Jose Conseco, who was exposed as having used steroids during much of his professional baseball career. Conseco garnered negative attention when he came forward as a steroid user. Though his use of steroids shined a negative light on Conseco’s achievements to this point, his book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big did bring the focus back to the fact that Conseco was trying to bring this serious subject to the surface.
Though all of these athletes have been the center of public attention and have, in some cases, behaved badly, it is important to remember that they are in fact people too. Though they may not be anything like us, they are not immune to the same pitfalls that sometimes cripple the rest of a person’s life. For the most part, professional athletics is a glamorous life, but there are always exceptions.
San Diego News, Junior Seau Arrested, Drives off Cliff, 10news.com
Fox News, Tyson Tragedy: Mike Tyson’s Daughter, 4, Taken off of Life Support After Found Hanging, foxnews.com
Nick Graham, Michael Phelps Bong Picture: Olympic Champion Caught Smoking Marijuana: Updated, huffingtonpost.com
USA Today, Conseco: Steroids Made Baseball Career Possible, usatoday.com