U.S. News

04.30.14

Donald Sterling and Five Other Members of the Lifetime Ban Club

The Clippers’ racist owner is out of the NBA for good. So who’s he joining in the hall of shame? From Tonya Harding to Pete Rose, five notorious names banned from their sport for life.

The National Basketball Association banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life Tuesday over a recording of him making racist remarks. But he’s not the only sports big shot to go down in flames after a shameful misstep or two. See other disgraced players and managers who have been blacklisted.

Pete Rose

Baseball legend Pete Rose holds the record for all-time hits and most games played but has been all but erased from the history of the game after betting on his own sport. While managing the Cincinnati Reds in the mid-’80s, Rose, already known as an avid gambler, began putting money down on baseball. An investigation found he was wagering a $8,000 to $16,000 every day of a season, on teams including his own. Rose was banned from Major League Baseball in 1989, after just a few months of investigation. “One of the game’s greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences of those acts,” then-baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti told a crowd of reporters at the time. But now, 25 years later, baseball leaders have spoken out in favor of letting Rose into the Baseball Hall of Fame and lifting his lifetime suspension.

ShoelessJoe Jackson

Chicago was stunned when beloved White Sox legend Joe Jackson was kicked out of baseball for life in 1921. The record-breaking player, who rose from humble roots, was adored by fans until he was accused of planning the team’s World Series loss. In 1919, his team had good odds against the Cincinnati Reds in the big game, but suffered defeat. Soon after, fingers were pointed at Jackson and seven other players for throwing the game in exchange for thousands of dollars in what came to be known as the Black Sox Scandal. Though a trial found them not guilty, the baseball commissioner banned them from the game for life. The debate over whether Jackson was really involved continues to this day. “I think my record in the 1919 World Series will stand up against that of any other man in that Series or any other World Series in all history,” Jackson said in 1942. He went on to open a dry cleaning business, barbecue restaurant, and liquor store.

Tonya Harding

Tonya Harding became figure skating’s black sheep after her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, a favorite for the 1994 Olympic Games, was attacked before a pre-Olympic tournament. Suspicion was cast on Harding’s involvement in a plot against Kerrigan, who was clubbed in the knee with a police baton but recovered in time to win an Olympic silver medal in Norway. Harding’s ex-husband and three other men were found guilty in the attack, and after the games, Harding admitted to knowing of the scheme but not reporting it. The disgraced 23-year-old was banned for life from the world of competitive skating and went on to try her hand at boxing.

Lance Armstrong

Fourteen years of competitive racing went down the drain in 2012, when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found Lance Armstrong guilty of doping and banned him for life from the sport. Armstrong had been investigated for alleged steroid use for years, as accounts from former teammates and associates made their way around the rumor mill. But Armstrong continued to ride, competing in two more Tour de France races even after retiring in 2005. But the USADA’s damning report finally did him in, and he admitted to Oprah Winfrey (because who else?) not long after that he had been doping for years.

Marge Schott

The Cincinnati Reds owner didn’t exactly get a lifetime ban handed to her, but she might as well have. Just like Sterling, Schott’s big mouth and endless string of offensive statements did her in. She claimed that “only fruits wear earrings” and “Hitler was good in the beginning, but he went too far,” and even said women shouldn’t leave the house and get jobs. After she was sued for calling two outfielders her “million-dollar n*****s,” she was suspended in 1993 and forced to take multicultural sensitivity classes. But three years later, following a new string of controversial remarks, including mocking the Japanese prime minister and again praising Hitler, she was handed a 2 1/2-year ban. Before she could cause more trouble, the league forced her to sell under threat of extending the ban.