Criminal

Oscar Pistorius, Jovan Belcher, Chris Benoit & Other Athletes Who Snapped (PHOTOS)

Arrested for the murder of his girlfriend Thursday, Olympic star Oscar Pistorius joins a long list of athletes who've snapped. See the others who have come unglued.

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Athletes Who Snapped

The arrest of Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius for the alleged murder of his girlfriend sparked renewed debate over the issue of athletes who overnight go from hero to villain. Here's a look at athletes who've lived double lives as wife-beaters, murderers, and car thiefs.





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Oscar Pistorius

South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius was arrested for the alleged murder of his girlfriend Thursday after authorities discovered her dead in his home. The 26-year-old Paralympic gold medalist and double amputee—nicknamed “Blade Runner”—was a fan favorite during the 2012 London Olympics. Responding to reports of gunfire near Pistorius's home, police arrived on the scene to find his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, dead. The bubbly 30-year-old blonde was a cover model for FHM and the face of Avon South Africa. In an eerie message posted just hours before her death, Steenkamp posed a Valentine's Day question to her followers. “What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow???” the tweet reads. Although Pistorius was initially set to appear in court Thursday, sources close to the scandal say the legal proceedings have been put on hold.

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Jovan Belcher

Two days after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, and then committed suicide, it still wasn’t clear exactly what motivated his violent actions. Could it have been the fact that Perkins was out until 1 a.m. the night before at a Trey Songz concert? The couple, who had a 3-month-old daughter together, had an “on again, off again” relationship and reportedly had argued frequently. While things weren’t perfect, Belcher had no history of domestic assault, and Perkins moved from her native Texas so they could raise their daughter together.

Bruce Bennett

Lance Stephenson

In August 2010, Lance Stephenson was arrested in New York for felony assault and harassment for allegedly attacking the mother of his child. Stephenson, an Indiana Pacers rookie at the time, reportedly pushed his girlfriend, Jasmine Williams, down a flight of stairs. Prosecutors also said Stephenson smashed her head into a step.

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Francisco Rodriguez

Former Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez had a couple of run-ins with the law. In 2010, he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend’s father after a verbal altercation turned physical. Rodriguez reportedly had been yelling at Daian Pena, the mother of his infant twins, when Pena’s dad stepped in to protect his daughter. Two years later, Rodriguez was charged with disorderly conduct for striking a woman in the head and then grabbing her by the hair and throwing her. The charges were dropped.

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Michael Pittman

In 2003, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman allegedly rammed his Hummer into his wife’s Mercedes-Benz while she, their 2-year-old son, and their babysitter were in it. The couple had been fighting about Pittman’s supposed infidelity. When his wife tried to leave, Pittman used his SUV to block her exit, smashed into the passenger-side door, and pushed the Mercedes to the curb, according to police reports. It wasn’t the couple’s first altercation. Melissa Pittman estimated she had been subjected to at least 30 incidents of domestic violence.

Bruce Bennett

Jason Kidd

Jason and Joumana Kidd had a rocky 10-year marriage. In 2001, the NBA star was arrested for hitting her on the face during an argument over feeding their son. He pleaded guilty to spousal abuse and paid a $200 fine. When the pair divorced in 2009, Joumana alleged that he attacked her numerous times and once gave her a concussion after hitting her with a candlestick. One of the last incidents, according to Joumana, occurred in December 2006, when, she said, Jason choked her and caused her to stop breathing. Jason denied the allegations in the divorce filings.

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Lawrence Phillips

NFL running back Lawrence Phillips was arrested in August 2005 after he drove a stolen car into three teenagers he had been arguing with during a football game. The teenagers survived with minor injuries, but police charged Phillips with attempted murder. He was already wanted by the authorities for two incidents of domestic violence. The former University of Nebraska player allegedly had attacked his girlfriend and at one point choked her into unconsciousness.

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George Huguely

George Huguely was sentenced to 23 years in prison for beating his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love, to death in May 2010. Huguely kicked in Love’s bedroom door and killed her in a violent, drunken rage, leaving her to die in a pool of her own blood. Both were star lacrosse players at the University of Virginia. Defense attorneys tried to argue that he didn’t intend to kill Love, who was just two weeks away from graduation, but jurors convicted him of second-degree murder.

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Chris Benoit

Professional wrestler Chris Benoit asphyxiated his wife and their 7-year-old son in June 2007 before hanging himself on gym equipment in their home. The reason Benoit, who began his career in 1985, killed his family and then himself remains shrouded in mystery. Investigators found prescription steroids in the wrestler’s system, leaving open the possibility Benoit suffered from ’roid rage. But later, Benoit’s father blamed the tragedy on life-altering brain injuries that were discovered after his son’s death.