NBA players who went to jail: 10 best hoopers with criminal records

NBA players who went to jail: 10 best hoopers with criminal records

Claudia Kogi
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:13 PM

It is no secret that NBA players are some of the world's most popular and admired personalities. As a result, the public intensely scrutinizes their lives on the court and aspects of their personal lives as well. Unfortunately, a few hoopers have occasionally been on the news for the wrong reasons, facing penalties due to criminal offenses or even jail time. So, who are some of the NBA players who went to jail?

NBA players who went to jail
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC

NBA has had its fair share of bad boys since its inception. The league has seen some of the prominent players arrested and charged. Some of these hoopers have been arrested and charged with various crimes ranging from substance abuse to assault. Here is a list of some basketball players who went to jail and how they got in trouble.

What NBA Players have been to jail?

There are many famous NBA legends who spent time behind bars. They include Oliver Miller, Arthur Long, and Javaris Crittenton among others. We sampled a few in our top 10 ranking of notorious NBA stars.

10. Eddie Johnson Jr.

Edward Lee Johnson Jr., nicknamed Fast Eddie, was an All-Star guard with the Atlanta Hawks from 1977 to 1987. Eddie was a star player until his life took a turn for the worse when he was banned from NBA in 1987. He was convicted for using various burned substances and resisting arrest.

The legendary basketball star faced 100 arrests and five spells behind bars. In 2006, he was found guilty of crimes against a minor and sentenced to life imprisonment. He died on 25 October 2020 while serving his sentence in Milton, Florida.

9. Javaris Crittenton

What NBA players have been to jail?
Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Javaris Crittenton (R) appears in Los Angeles Superior Court during a hearing on 31st August 2011, in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Al Seib-Pool
Source: Getty Images

Javaris Cortez Crittenton played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Washington Wizards. He had a successful junior career that saw him named Mr. Georgia Basketball by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Javaris is one of the NBA players who killed someone and got sentenced. On 26 August 2011, he was charged with the murder of Jullian Jones, a 22-year-old mother of four. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

8. Tom Payne

Thomas Robert Payne is a former Atlanta Hawks player and professional boxer. He was the first African-American to be selected as a basketball player at the University of Kentucky. Payne spent four decades in prison for assaulting different ladies.

He was first convicted in 1972 for assaulting a 22-year-old woman and served 5 years in a Georgia prison. After his release, Tom spent six other years in prison for a similar case. He was finally released in January 2019.

7. Daron "Mookie" Blaylock

Daron Oshay Blaylock spent 13 years in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the New Jersey Nets, Atlanta Hawks, and the Golden State Warriors. In 2014, he was sentenced to 15 years for vehicular killing and other charges. However, he entered a plea deal and was sentenced to a lesser sentence of 3 years. The charges came after he blacked out while on the wheel and caused a head-on collision. He barely survived the crash as he was put on life support after the accident.

6. William Bedford

NBA players who went to jail after sentencing
William Bedford of the Detroit Pistons in action against the Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game circa 1991 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Photo: Focus on Sport
Source: Getty Images

William Bedford is a retired professional basketballer who played for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, and San Antonio Spurs. William, who is considered one of the most wasted talents in NBA history, had a problem with substance abuse. He even missed the 1988-89 season because of his rehab program. In 2004, Bedford was sentenced to prison for 10 years but was released from federal prison in 2011 for good behavior.

5. Darrell Allums

Darrell Wilbert Allums, Jr. is a retired basketball legend who played in the NBA during the 1980-81 season with the Dallas Mavericks. Unfortunately, his stint in the national league was short-lived, as he only spent one season. In 1989, Allums was sentenced to nine years in prison for robbing Domino's Pizza deliverymen on 14 separate occasions.

4. Henry James

Henry Charles James played for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 1990-91 season. He also had a career in the Philippine Basketball Association and spent parts of several seasons in the Continental Basketball Association for the Wichita Falls Texans and Sioux Falls Skyforce.

In May 2007, Henry pleaded guilty and was convicted of two felonies after he sold $750 worth of the substance to an undercover cop in 2006. As a result, he landed a five-year jail sentence. Henry is one of a handful of NBA players who went to jail because of drugs.

3. Arthur Long

Arthur Donnell Long is one of the top NBA players who went to jail because of drugs. He played for Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings during his career. In 2015, he was convicted of substance abuse and gun charges. Long was sentenced to seven years behind bars.

2. Ruben Patterson

Basketball players who went to jail
Ruben Patterson of the Seattle Supersonics during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on 9 November 2000, at Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo: Sporting News
Source: Getty Images

Ruben Patterson was a small forward and shooting guard for several clubs in the NBA. He played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Clippers. He was first arrested in February 2001 for misdemeanor assault. Patterson received a 15-year jail sentence.

1. Oliver Miller

NBA players who killed someone
Oliver Miller of the Toronto Raptors during an NBA basketball game against the Washington Bullets at USAir Arena on 18th November 1995, in Landover, Maryland. Photo: Mitchell Layton
Source: Getty Images

Oliver J. Miller, also known as The Big O, is a former NBA star who played for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, and Sacramento Kings. Miller committed his crimes after completing his NBA career. He was involved in a "pistol whipping" altercation at a barbecue in April 2011.

He was charged with counts of first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, possessing a handgun, using a handgun in a violent crime, possessing a handgun in a vehicle, and disorderly conduct. Miller was sentenced to five years behind bars.

Which NBA players are currently in jail?

Percentage of NBA players with criminal records
Montrezl Harrell #5 of the Los Angeles Clippers and Taurean Prince (R) of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Photo: Jayne Kamin, David Berding
Source: Getty Images

Montrezl Harrell and Taurean Prince are some of the NBA players in jail in 2022. Harrell was charged with a misdemeanor and pleaded guilty in 2022, while Prince was charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon and possessing a controlled substance.

Percentage of NBA players with criminal records

According to sources, the NBA has around 400 players, and about 40% of them have a police record involving a serious crime. Meanwhile, 75% of NBA players are also reported to own guns. This trend has tarnished the image of the league, with some calling it a 'league of thugs.'

Other top NBA stars who were sent behind the bars include Kirk Snyder, Jack Molinas, Darrell Allums, and Billy Ray Bates. Keon Clark, Allen Iverson, and Charles Smith also spent time in prison.

The number of NBA players who went to jail is equally shocking. Some of them were talented stars who achieved a lot during their career. However, the cases spoilt their reputation and tarnished their personalities.

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Claudia Kogi photo
Claudia Kogi
Claudia Kogi is a Kenyan content creator with over 3 years of experience. Claudia joined as a writer in January 2022, covering sports and relatable content.