7 Crazy Sports Dads for the Hall of Shame

This is the price of greatness, if you ignore the people that were normal and still good
7 Crazy Sports Dads for the Hall of Shame

Many of sports greatest icons have an answer to the question “how did they get so good” thats a little less fun than wed all like. Sometimes, those athletes sessions of catch with their dad were a little more high-stakes than Child Protective Services generally recommends. Regardless, some people try to argue it was necessary, which is misguided in two ways: First, there are plenty of legendary athletes that got plenty good without the threat of getting locked in a shed or whatever. Second, we only hear about the ones that reach the pinnacle, though Im sure there are plenty of Division III players going through similar terror for no reason at all.

Here are seven sports dads who could probably use a little more discipline themselves…

LaVar Ball

Graham Hodges

Everybodys having a great time, see?

At first, LaVar Ball seemed like a quirky, if overzealous, proud father to his three sons, Lonzo, LaMelo, and LiAngelo. Whatever you thought of him or his sons, they were inextricable, thanks to LaVar’s control over their lives. Unlike a lot of the stories in this vein, where the relationship mellows with age, LaVar is the opposite. What started as possibly toxic support has turned into plain toxicity as he badmouths his own sons for the sake of his (and, supposedly their) brand. When you start pulling your kids out of school altogether in order to make them better at basketball, it doesnt bode well for creating happy, well-rounded humans.

Earl Woods

Earl Woods passed away in 2006, and by that point, he and Tiger had a healthy relationship. Turn back the clock and their relationship was more of what publications like to gently call “complicated.” Regardless of how much they might turn out to love it, when youre trotting out a two-year old to golf on national television, its not indicative of a normal childhood. Not to mention that a hard-nosed approach that already might breed contempt doesn't pair well with infidelity, something Tiger would emulate, intentionally or not, later in his life.

Mike Agassi


Dad, I've had enough speed, ok?

Tiger, at least by all appearances and public opinions, does genuinely enjoy the game of golf. Which is good, because the greatest monkey-paw outcome of all when it comes to these sports parents is that they end up raising someone whos one of the best in the world at a sport they hate. According to Andre Agassi himself, that's how he felt about tennis, even as he rose to become one of the best players in the world. No matter how you feel about tough-love child-rearing, you should probably stop before you start giving your kid speed.

Domitru Moceanu

Olympic gymnasts, by necessity, enter the national spotlight extremely early in their lives. For Dominique Moceanu, the trauma from that pursuit added up quickly. By the age of 17, shed already become not only emancipated from her father, but forced to take out a restraining order against him. With allegations including monopolizing her earnings and even trying to have her coach killed, she had more to worry about than most adults do before she could even legally walk into a hookah bar — something I dont think a medal of any color would smooth over.

Stefano Capriati

Im not sure exactly what it is about tennis that seems to bring out the worst in parents, but the list of questionable tennis parents is a long one. It, of course, includes Stefano Capriati, who forced his daughter Jennifer to compete as a professional player at the age of 13. The world of professional sports is mentally taxing enough to send many adult players into crises; to force someone into the highest level of competition who should only be worried about wrapping their head around puberty isnt a recipe for good mental health. Stefano claims it was all for Jennifer’s benefit, but this is a guy who was described as treating his daughter as a “ponytailed ATM.”

Marv Marinovich

Marv Marinovich wanted his son to be an icon, and instead he became a bit of one himself — but not in a favorable way. When you look at how he treated his son, Todd, you dont even really need to bring sports into it, as it was textbook abuse. The fact that it was all football-flavored, in pursuit of the goal of creating the perfect quarterback, only becomes a part of the story because Todds short success in the sport, and downfall, brought the abuse to light. From Todd’s literal birth, Marv was trying to create a lab-grown gridiron god, seeming to forget that humans exist on a mental frontier as well. Even when Todd achieved the dream of becoming a high NFL draft pick, the scars from what got him there didnt allow for long-term success.

Karl Malone

Public Domain

Karl Malone, “The Mailman,” shown here roughly five years after impregnating a 13-year-old.

NBA legend Karl Malone has two children who have gone on to play professional sports. Now, to say he was a bad father to them would imply that he was present, which he was not. The reason hes on this list is that he is both a father to professional athletes, and a complete piece of shit. His daughter Cheryl Ford, who won three championships in the WNBA, was conceived by Malone and his high school sweetheart, but had no contact with him until she was 17. Malones son, Demetress Bell, an offensive lineman in the NFL, was conceived two years later, when Karl Malone was 20 years old, and his mother, Gloria Bell, was 13 — a 13-year-old girl who was similarly abandoned to raise her own child. 

I cannot tell you how much it sucks that one of the best nicknames in the NBA belongs to deadbeat statutory rapist Karl Malone, but the least we could do is take away his All-Star seats.

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