A brief history of lifetime bans in professional team sports leagues

Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter is not the first person to receive a lifetime ban from a professional sports league in North America.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the ban Wednesday after a league probe found Porter disclosed confidential information to sports bettors and wagered on games.

There have been other bans, from the so-called “Chicago Black Sox” to Pete Rose in Major League Baseball to the only other person banned from the NBA during Silver’s tenure — Donald Sterling:


One of the most infamous examples came out of the 1919 World Series, when several Chicago White Sox players were accused of taking money from gamblers to intentionally lose to the Cincinnati Reds. Eight players involved in the scandal were acquitted at trial but were nonetheless banned for life by then-MLB Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

Then there is Pete Rose, who agreed to a lifetime ban in 1989 after an investigation for Major League Baseball by lawyer John Dowd found the all-time hit leader placed bets on the Reds to win from 1985-87 while playing for and managing the team.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in 2023 he has no intention of altering Rose’s ban, especially in the wake of allegations in a sworn court statement that surfaced in 2017 claiming that Rose had a sexual relationship with an underage woman in the 1970s.


The NFL has had a number of indefinite suspensions that effectively ended careers, though no lifetime ban from association with the league.

Among them are receiver Justin Blackmon of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He was suspended indefinitely in November 2013 after repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy. Similar cases include LaRon Landry and Rolando McLain.

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely after a video surfaced showing him assaulting his girlfriend. No team wanted him afterward.

Merle Hapes, a New York Giants fullback, was suspended in a betting scandal involving the 1946 championship game. He and a teammate reported being offered a bribe to fix the game against the Chicago Bears, who won. Commissioner Bert Bell later suspended Hapes indefinitely for “acts detrimental to the NFL and pro football.” The suspension was lifted by Bell in December 1954, but Hapes never returned.


Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling became the first person banned by Silver in 2014 for violating NBA rules.

Sterling was forced to sell the Clippers, was banned for life from any association with the league and fined $2.5 million for racist comments that were recorded by his girlfriend for posting pictures of herself with Black athletes including Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson and then-Los Angeles Dodgers star Matt Kemp.

In the 1950s, a number of players were banned from the NBA because of point-shaving allegations tied to their college days and the 1980s-90s saw a handful, including Chris Washburn and Roy Tarpley, over substance abuse allegations.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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