Some athletes have a lot in common with A-list celebrities. They make millions of dollars, have admirers all over the world, and are treated like rock stars everywhere they go. But as anyone in the limelight knows they also have their share of haters and not just from fans of other teams.
Sometimes the behavior of these sports figures gives us good reason to dislike them. Other times, we are bothered by their arrogance and continued success. Here’s a list of superstar athletes you probably root against because we all love to hate them.
1. Tom Brady
Unless you’re from Boston or live somewhere else in New England, chances are you can’t stand Tom Brady.
There are quite a few reasons people love to hate the New England Patriots quarterback. It could have to do with the whole Spygate and Deflategate cheating scandals, or that he’s married to a supermodel, or that he’s won so many Super Bowls, it’s almost like a simple routine for him.
Whatever the reason, Brady is one of the most disliked people in the NFL.
Next: He may be the most polarizing athlete ever.
2. Tim Tebow
People hate Tim Tebow for no reason at all, even though by many accounts, he’s a very good teammate and works hard. After winning national championships in college, he was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2010.
Early in the 2011 season when the Broncos were struggling, Tebow replaced Kyle Orton. The young quarterback led a team with a losing record that was going nowhere to the playoffs and won a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Following that season, he was traded and within a few years was out of the NFL for good. He later became an analyst on the SEC Network and a baseball outfielder in the New York Mets organization. However, because it’s thought to be a popular thing to hate Tebow, many people do.
Next: This golfer’s “transgressions” were made public.
3. Tiger Woods
For years, Tiger Woods was on top of the golfing world. He won 14 majors and was thought to be untouchable. However, that all changed in 2009 when the world learned that he was having extramarital affairs. The image of the world’s greatest as a family man was shattered, and he took a break from the sport.
Woods returned to game, but hasn’t been anywhere close to the same golfer he was once was. While he did publicly apologize for his “transgressions,” it’s been hard for anyone to forget about them and these days, people just love to hate him.
Next: She’ll always be linked to the “whack heard ’round the world.”
4. Tonya Harding
Tonya Harding was a great figure skater, but will always be remembered more for what happened prior to the 1994 Olympic Games. Whether or not Harding knew more than she let on about the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, her name will always be associated with the silver medalist for the “whack heard ’round the world.”
Harding went on a redemption tour of sorts in 2017 with the release of the biopic I, Tonya and was invited to award shows. Allison Janney even thanked the retired skater during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.
But many people, including those in the figure skating world, still believe that Harding either planned out the attack on her rival or was at least involved in it somehow.
Next: They won’t forgive or forget this basketball star’s misconduct.
5. Kobe Bryant
He was admired in Los Angeles where he spent 2o years playing for the Lakers and winning championships. He retired in 2016 and had one heck of a sendoff.
After that, anytime he stepped foot in the Staples Center, he was honored and a red carpet was basically rolled out for him. But fans of other teams never liked Kobe Bryant’s attitude on and off the court, and many will never forget that he was arrested and accused of rape in 2003.
When his accuser refused to testify in a criminal case, the two sides settled a civil suit out of court. Bryant then gave a public mea culpa, but not everyone has forgiven him and some people still can’t stand him.
Next: People root against this “king.”
6. LeBron James
People started to really dislike LeBron James when he left Cleveland and took his “talents to South Beach.” However, he later returned to the Cavaliers and in 2016, led the team to it’s first NBA Championship.
But his pure arrogance of calling himself “the king” and congratulating himself on a feat before he even accomplished it is a real turn off for a lot of people. Therefore, even though he makes it to the NBA Finals just about every year, people usually root for whatever team is playing against him.
Next: Money May’s cockiness rubs people the wrong way.
7. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
When you think of Floyd Mayweather Jr. a few words like cocky, arrogant, and boastful come to mind. The man nicknamed “Money” never lost a fight in his career.
While he’s been criticized for his fighting style, he’s always came out on top, so he makes it a habit of letting everyone know just how great he is. The former boxer competed from 1996 to 2015 and made a one-fight comeback in 2017 against UFC’s Conor McGregor.
A big reason he is hated though has nothing to do with his attitude and flashing his millions around. Instead, it’s his history of domestic violence. That fact is something even some hardcore boxing fans can’t ignore, and they have never embraced him because of it.
Next: People have a problem with his antics and trash talking.
8. Conor McGregor
McGregor has said and done lots of things that have raised eyebrows. Brashness and trash talking is one thing, but some have viewed a few of his comments as racist — particularly those leading up the Mayweather fight.
The mixed martial artist is no stranger to controversy and even caused an uproar on social media in December 2017 about his longtime relationship with his son’s mother, Dee Devlin. When singer Rita Ora posted a photo with McGregor at an event, she captioned it “Date night.” The athlete retweeted the pic and people really got on him, and Ora, about how disrespectful they were and cheating rumors swirled.
McGregor later gave Ora a nightclub shoutout and put his hand over his heart, but he may have just been trolling everyone since he knows people love to hate him.
Next: He did time for a heinous crime.
9. Michael Vick
In 2007, then-Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was arrested for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring. He was suspended from the NFL, served 18 months behind bars, and saw his popularity plummet.
Once he got out of jail, the Philadelphia Eagles signed him. The move was met with some protests, but Vick eventually regained his status as a successful quarterback and tried to redeem himself with animal lovers everywhere.
Although he seemed to really turn his life around after serving his time by working with animal rights groups and lobbying for the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, some people just can’t forgive him for his past.
Next: They can’t stomach this player’s father anymore.
10. Lonzo Ball
Fans of teams not called the Lakers dislike Lonzo Ball, and that has everything to do with his father, LaVar Ball.
The elder Ball has created an entire brand and made a name for himself by making bold and outrageous predictions that his son may never be able to live up to. So, because of what comes out of his father’s mouth, Lonzo Ball has plenty of haters.
While that may not be fair, it is the reason people love to hate him.
Next: He doesn’t like you and you don’t like him.
11. Jay Cutler
Kristin Cavallari’s husband, Jay Cutler, isn’t the most endearing of NFL quarterbacks, or any player in any sport for that matter.
Cutler is known as standoffish when it’s comes to fans and his own teammates, and he really despises talking to the media. Other than just one or two good seasons in the league, Cutler hasn’t done anything special in his career, which gives fans no good reason to like him.
Next: He admitted he cheated on all those tours.
12. Lance Armstrong
Once upon a time, cyclist Lance Armstrong was well-liked and a true inspiration to everyone. He beat testicular cancer and won the Tour de France seven times. Because of his feats, he gained superstar status and dated celebs like Sheryl Crow and Kate Hudson.
However, rumors circulated that Armstrong was hiding something and cheated all those years. When he finally admitted to the doping allegations, we watched his fall from grace. Armstrong’s reputation was ruined, he was stripped of all seven Tour de France titles, and those yellow Livestrong bracelets that his fans always wore disappeared from existence.
The fact that he cheated and lied about using performance-enhancing drugs so many times is why people dislike him.
Next: He’s tried to go from the ring to redemption.
13. Mike Tyson
In the ’80s and ’90s, Mike Tyson was one of the most feared boxers to ever step into the ring. However, the former world heavyweight champion also had drug and alcohol problems, was convicted of rape, and bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear.
For years, it was hard for anyone to like Tyson and see past all the negative things he had done. It wasn’t until he made a cameo in 2009 hit comedy, The Hangover, that he started to gain back some of his popularity.
Tyson said that he has since turned his life around, but there are still some people today that just refuse to see him in any other light and do not find him likable at all.
Next: Even his own fans think he’s a jerk.
14. Kurt Busch
If you’re a NASCAR fan, then you totally get why Kurt Busch is on this list. People in and around the sport have been calling him a complete jerk for years. He created this bad boy image and seems to be very proud of it. He even made Forbes list for one of the most disliked people in sports.
He’s known to have a temper and has had dust ups with the media, fellow drivers, fans, and even his own pit crew. In short, he doesn’t offer anyone too many reasons to like him,, so for that they hate him.
Next: He’s been called the “Mike Tyson of soccer.”
15. Luis Suarez
And finally, soccer star Luis Suarez is definitely a celebrity athlete who people love to hate. He is an incredible player, but people dislike him because of his ridiculous behavior on the pitch.
Suarez had been called the “Mike Tyson of international soccer” for literally biting other opponents. The biting incidents by the Uruguayan striker have happened three times.
In 2014, on world’s biggest stage with his team facing elimination, everyone saw Suarez’s skills on the field and the bite he took out of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini. For that, he earned a four-month ban and a reputation as someone who people love to hate.
Follow Michelle Kapusta on Twitter @philamichelle.
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