Professional Athletes Who Were Not What They Seemed

Professional athletes are always idolized by thousands, if not millions, of fans not only in their respective countries but in the global sports community, as well. With their physical and mental prowess, they tend to be ideal models for the youth and aspiring athletes. 

However, what you see on the television and live games is just part of who they are. Behind the scenes, they tend to live a life different than what you imagined. While being highly esteemed, some live a low-key life, while others have less wholesome lifestyles and activities.


This is not to say that all pro athletes have dark lives behind closed doors. However, if you are curious about which popular and praised professional athletes are not who they seem, then here is a list of players you should get to know more about. 

Professional Athletes Who Were Not What They Seemed

OJ Simpson

Those of you who are into crime and mystery probably heard of OJ Simpson. He first became popular as a halfback for the University of Southern California’s football team, the Trojans. He even won the Heisman Trophy in 1968, an award given to outstanding players. 

After his career as a pro college player, he went on to play in the National Football League in 1969 with the Buffalo Bills where he became known as “The Juice” Simpson. 


Simpson was later apprehended for the murder of his wife and actress Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. According to reports, Brown Simpson had been confiding in her friends about the physical abuse she had suffered by the hands of OJ. 

Immediately after the murder, Simpson tried to run but was caught. He was represented by a “dream team of lawyers” composed of Robert Kardashian, Jonathan Cochran, and others. While there was a strong case against him, Simpson ended up being acquitted.

Lance Armstrong

Anyone who has been following the competitive cycling scene will definitely know of Lance Armstrong. He is best known for winning the Tour de France sevens times. He is also a survivor of testicular cancer. 


Armstrong started his athletic career as a triathlete before deciding to focus on cycling, which is also his strongest suit. In the late 1980s, he was invited by the US Olympic development team, which then jumpstarted his legendary career.

Among his achievements are his wins in the First Union Grand Prix and the Thrift Drug Classic. He also won several awards in the Olympics, Tours and World Cup races.

1999 to Now

By 1999, Armstrong is known as a strong competitor in the cycling scene. This is the year he first won the Tour de France and did so after battling cancer. He went on to win six more times. 

However, in 2001, a reporter investigated Armstrong and found links to a doctor known for supplying performance-enhancing drugs to cyclists. Several witnesses came forward testifying to Armstrong’s use of such drugs. Despite this, the cyclist denied the allegations.

He finally confessed to the claims in 2013 during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. In the televised interview, he admitted to using various enhancement drugs since the mid-90s he also had blood transfusions to increase his oxygen levels.

Tonya Harding

Professional Athletes Who Were Not What They Seemed

Tonya Harding was one of the best skaters in the world, especially as she was the first American woman to complete a triple axel during a competition. She went on to compete in the Winter Olympics in 1992, where she won the silver medal. 

Two years after this milestone, she was implicated in a notorious crime involving the assault of Nancy Kerrigan. It was revealed that her former husband hired a hitman to injure Kerrigan and prevent her from competing in the 1994 Olympics.

Her ex-husband pleaded to the crime and stated that he connived with Harding to do the crime. While Harding did not admit to planning the hit, she took a plea bargain admitting to hindering the investigation. She was able to avoid jail time. 


Professional athletes and their achievements can definitely serve as inspiration for many. However, many are not what they seem like parts of their private lives leak to the public for all to see.