The good, the bad and the blotter
by Saralyn Norkus
May 16, 2013 | 1010 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hearing about former Detroit Lions receiver Titus Young’s recent legal trouble got me thinking, just which sports have had the most athletes arrested?

Knowing that this was a topic that could keep me both busy and entertained for days, I decided to keep my sample size small. A quick Google search turned up 143 different pro athlete arrests for me to study up on.

While the NBA may have what I consider to be the most self-important and spoiled athletes out there, only 21 of the 143 different arrests I found online belonged to former or present NBA players. That number is good enough to earn the NBA a bronze medal when it comes to the arrest record race.

Major League Baseball players earned themselves the silver medal with 37 different arrests and the gold medal goes to the NFL, which accounted for 50 out of the 143 arrests I looked at, and that’s not even including O.J. Simpson!

It does seem like common sense when you think about it: Both NFL teams and MLB teams basically have double the roster size of any NBA team. More athletes equals a higher chance that those leagues have an overall higher level of arrests.

That being said, on with the fun stories of idiot athletes and their varying legal offenses, and yes, most of these involve too much partying and bad choices.

Let’s start off with a selection of some of the real “winners” out of my hometown of Detroit.

Two Detroit teams in particular, seem to have a way of picking up athletes who seem more than proficient at making what I will refer to as “poor life choices.”

The Tigers past and present have had their run-ins with the law, such as Delmon Young’s drunken anti-Semitic hate crime charges and Miguel Cabrera’s scotch-fueled DUI.

Now let’s take a gander at some of the gems that have passed through the Lions’ roster.

In February 2012 and March 2012 running back Mikel Leshoure was arrested for being in possession of marijuana. Apparently defensive tackle Nick Fairley didn’t want his teammate to suffer through a minor drug charge alone, as a month later Fairley was arrested for the same thing. Let’s not leave out former Lion Johnny Culbreath who got the marijuana arrest parade started a month before Leshoure.

This brings us to the most recent former Lion to be arrested and man who inspired this whole column, Titus Young.

May just hasn’t been Mr. Young’s month. On May 4, he went to a gas station with a bad case of sticky fingers, leaving with a bottle of water and some candy bars. Then, because candy and water weren’t enough, Young returned and walked out with a handful of cigars. According to reports, this is considered second-degree commercial burglary, which is a felony.

A day later Young was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Barely 15 hours after being released, Young was caught trying to steal his car out of the impound lot.

Early on May 11 Young was arrested after breaking into a home which led to a scuffle with a police officer. For his efforts, Young was charged with burglary, resisting arrest, and assaulting an officer.

In an Orange County court this past Tuesday, Young pleaded not guilty to eight criminal counts. His bail has been set at the bargain price $25,000, a number that was reduced from its original $75,000.

Young’s father has said his son has “serious mental disorders,” and I find myself hoping that this is true so that the 23-year-old free agent can get the help he seems to desperately need.

There are plenty of other criminal athletes to mention, such as former Washington Nationals baseball player Elijah Dukes. His legal troubles began in 1997, at the ripe old age of 13.

To date, Dukes has been arrested three times for battery and once for assault. His ex-wife sought a restraining order in 2007 after Dukes threatened to kill her and the kids. Oh yea, Dukes was also charged with failure to pay child support in 2010 ...

While he was a member of the Nationals, management hired an ex-police officer to fill the role of “Special Assistant: Player Concerns.” This is just a fancy term for a full-time babysitter responsible for keeping a grown man out of trouble.

The last arrest I found on Dukes was in 2011 after he assaulted a pregnant ex-girlfriend. Clearly, this man is a winner.

Now it is time for some honorable mentions.

Boxing came in fourth place with 18 different arrests, while the NHL followed behind with 10 records of players being arrested.

I also discovered that even the NFL’s cheerleaders are getting in on the action, with two former cheerleaders having arrest records for what seems to be a catfight gone extreme.

How could I leave out the infamous Tonya Harding, the lone female felon of figure skating?

Besides the Harding vs. Kerrigan skating sabotage drama, it is the NHL that provides us with another “made for a Lifetime movie” storyline arrest.

Allow me to introduce St. Louis Blues left winger Mike Danton, aka the man who pleaded guilty to attempting to hire a hitman to take out his agent, because petty arrests for things such as drugs or assault and battery are for pansies.

Danton was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in a U.S. federal prison in 2004, serving almost five years before being transferred to a Canadian prison where he was paroled in September 2009.

I hear he’s doing well now, went to college and has been playing hockey in Europe since 2011. I also hear that hitmen are easier to come by in those Eastern European countries.

OK, I guess that was a joke made in bad taste!

Saralyn Norkus is a Sports Writer for the Cleveland Daily Banner. Write her at