Sports world wrought with breakups

It's a time for red roses, romantic champagne toasts, chocolate treats and diamond rings offered on bended knee. Amidst all the hope for everlasting love on Valentine's Day, though, is the cautionary backdrop of how often relationships fail.

Divorce keeps vanquishing love connections, including Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. What would Cupid and Chuck Woolery say?

The world of sports, especially the high-profile realm occupied by athletes and the celebrities they tend to court, is no different. It's a road often paved with disastrous acrimony rather than blissful matrimony.

Plus, there have been messy recent breakups between teams and once beloved toasts of the town.

Star-crossed basketball player Ron Artest essentially wrote Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird a Dear John letter in the newspaper asking to be traded one year after the organization stuck its neck out for him after he initiated the infamous Melee in Motown. Larry Legend shipped Artest and his bad attitude thousands of miles away to Sacramento.

Bitter vitriol has been traded between serial locker room cancer Terrell Owens and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Once upon a time, T.O. and Donovan was a match made in heaven. Now, it has splintered irrevocably with insults, blame and enough hot air to raise the Hindenburg.

Without a doubt, the most famous union between an athlete and a celebrity was New York Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio and actress Marilyn Monroe.
He was her slugger. Then, he became her batterer, allegedly beating up the blonde bombshell. She had many admirers and a wandering eye, and Joltin' Joe was the king of jealousy.

When they honeymooned in Japan, Monroe took a side trip to entertain troops in Korea against Dimaggio's wishes.

"Joe, you never heard such cheering," Monroe said upon her return.

"Yes, I have," replied DiMaggio.

This was the deathknell, although they later reconciled after the divorce but never remarried. The high-flying skirt scene in "The Seven-Year Itch" was unbearable for the intensely private DiMaggio.

America's couple lasted only nine months, and she later died of a drug overdose.

Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and singer Sheryl Crow broke up amidst whispers that his obsessive training splintered the relationship. NBA star Chris Webber and supermodel Tyra Banks have hit the skids, no word on why.

Heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson and actress Robin Givens' marriage wins the prize for drama and dysfunction. The divorce actually became official on Valentine's Day.

Givens described life with Iron Mike as a living hell. He bragged about punching his wife and bouncing her off every wall in the house. She called him a manic-depressive on national television, sitting next to a savage man who went on to bite a chunk off Evander Holyfield's ear.

Glamorous former tennis star Anna Kournikova has graced magazine covers with her heart-stopping good looks. She hasn't gone unnoticed by the jock crowd, either.

She was in a love triangle with hockey stars Sergei Federov and Pavel Bure along with rumored links with international soccer star Ronaldo and several tennis pros.

Her agent was once quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying, "Anna is a very friendly person, and I know she has many friends among other athletes."

Dennis Rodman, the self-described NBA wild child who loved to rebound and party -- dated Madonna, who used to see steroid posterboy Jose Canseco.

Rodman was so drunk when he married ultra-hot actress Carmen Electra in Las Vegas that he tried to get an annulment nine days later. Both were unfaithful, and she filed for divorce after a physical dustup in Miami. Both were handcuffed. Not by each other, though. The cops did the honors.

Rodman's take on the ill-fated union: "I told her before the marriage that it was going to be crazy, and she just had to deal with it."

Former baseball star David Justice and actress Halle Berry wasn't a match made in heaven, either. Three years after Berry praised Justice as her rock, soulmate and prince on a white horse, he griped about how she didn't like him watching ESPN and her temper tantrums.

How high-maintenance could Berry be for him to break up with her? Or was Justice was so intimidating that she needed that restraining order?

On the local sports scene, legendary Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas finished his storied career in a San Diego Chargers uniform.

Years later, Baltimore endured the Colts sneaking out of town in Mayflower vans on a snowy night. Years later, Art Modell broke Clevelanders' heart by moving the Browns to Maryland.

In NFL circles and around town, there's a lot of talk that Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis is so disenchanted with his contract that he wants to be traded. He no longer wants to be the face of the franchise, and is suddenly charging money for autographs.

This could be yet another relationship on a crash course with Splitsville.


In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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