Idolized celebs who did terrible things in real life

There's an old adage about the dangers of meeting your idols because the law of averages states there's a good chance that the person staring back at you from that poster on your wall isn't worthy of your praise. From kidnapping and torture to racism and homicide, here's a list of idolized celebrities who've done terrible things. 

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs will no doubt go down as possibly the greatest marketing mind of any generation, but as a parent, Jobs probably won't be winning any posthumous awards. 

According to the New York Post, the former Apple CEO publicly denied he was the father of he and Chrisann Brennan's child, despite reportedly being forced to take a paternity test that revealed that the probability of Jobs being the father was 94.1 percent. Jobs continued to deny the results, slamming his ex when he told Time magazine that "28% of the male population of the United States could be the father." Yikes. 

According to the International Business Times, Jobs "swore in court documents" that he was "sterile and infertile." (He went on to have three children with wife Laurene Powell.) Meanwhile, Brennan and her baby girl were reportedly living on welfare. According to Fortune, Jobs eventually began paying $500 a month in court-ordered child support. A month after that order, "Apple went public … giving Jobs a personal net worth of more than $225 million."

The daughter he denied, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, later wrote an essay recalling her childhood memories with her absentee father. According to Fortune, she said her dad "would stop by our house some days, a deity among us for a few tingling moments or hours." Later in life, Jobs accepted Lisa as one of his own, increasing his financial support and including her in his multi-million dollar inheritance. She was reportedly at her father's bedside when he passed away in 2011.

Rick James

Forever immortalized as an R&B funk pioneer and a Chappelle's Show skit, Rick James found success starting in the '70s, but it all came crashing down in the early '90s. By that time, James' rampant cocaine addiction was tabloid fodder, but in August 1991, he crossed the line. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, James and his girlfriend were arrested for "allegedly imprisoning and torturing a 24-year-old woman with a hot cocaine pipe over three days at James' Hollywood Hills home." When the woman attempted to leave, James allegedly brandished a gun, threatened to kill her, then "tied the woman up and severely burned her about 20 times with the hot end of a crack cocaine pipe."

While out on bail for kidnapping and torture charges, James was arrested again for assaulting music executive Mary Sauger at a hotel in West Hollywood. According to the Los Angeles Times, James (once again with his girlfriend) beat Sauger unconscious, then threw "water on her to revive her," then "the two again slapped her about the face for several hours." 

Despite facing 15 felony counts, James reportedly "dozed off while sitting in court, and began snoring audibly" during the Sauger trial.

 Cocaine is a helluva drug.

Chris Brown

When you have a Billboard 100 hit at the age of 16 and are compared to a young Michael Jackson, your musical future seems bright. Alas, Chris Brown's promise quickly faded. 

In 2009, just four years after his debut single, "Run It!" hit the airwaves, Brown viciously attacked his then girlfriend, fellow pop star Rihanna, so badly that she required hospitalization. The details of the assault are horrific, so if you choose to read them, you can get the full account per MTV News. Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault and was sentenced to five years probation and six months of community service, reported the Los Angeles Times

The slap on the wrist didn't sit well with domestic violence advocates and the general public alike, and in 2011, Brown didn't do his image any favors when he appeared on Good Morning America to promote his latest album. When repeatedly pressed by host Robin Roberts to discuss the infamous incident involving Rihanna, Brown stormed off the set. 

"He looked like he wanted to kill somebody," an insider told the New York Daily News. "He went completely nuts. He just walked off the set, ripped off his shirt and went into the room and threw a chair and broke the window."

Responding to questions about your violent past by becoming unhinged and violent again probably isn't the best way to change public perception. 

Amy Locane

Instead of being best known for her roles in Cry-Baby and Melrose Place, Amy Locane will forever remain infamous for the 2010 car crash that claimed the life of a 60-year-old New Jersey woman named Helene Seeman. 

According to My Central Jersey, the trouble began when Locane rear-ended a vehicle, then fled the scene when the driver tried to contact police. That driver reportedly followed her "and saw her swerving and knocking down mailboxes" prior to slamming into the passenger side of Seeman's vehicle as it turned into a driveway. Seeman was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Locane's "blood-alcohol level that was nearly three times the legal limit," reported People. She was convicted of vehicular homicide in 2012 and sentenced to three years behind bars.

"There hasn't been a day that has gone by that I didn't think of Helene Seeman," the actress said in a 2017 interview with "I feel terrible for her family. I know that they are hurting. I know that they are grieving. I have said that I'm sorry over and over to them, but I feel like it falls on deaf ears."

Dr. Dre

Although he may have produced your favorite rap artist and made your favorite headphones, Dr. Dre has a long history of committing violence toward women. 

Let's start with Dee Barnes. In 1991, she had the audacity to criticize Dre's group, N.W.A., on her Fox TV rap video show called Pump It Up. According to a 1992 article in Rolling Stone, "Dre picked her up and 'began slamming her face and the right side of her body repeatedly against a wall near the stairway' as his bodyguard held off the crowd. After Dre tried to throw her down the stairs and failed, he began kicking her in the ribs and hands. She escaped and ran into the women's restroom. Dre followed her and 'grabbed her from behind by the hair and proceeded to punch her in the back of the head.'"

Dre's reasoning for such unhinged violence against a female critic? "People talk all this s**t, but you know, somebody f**ks with me, I'm gonna f**k with them. I just did it, you know. Ain't nothing you can do now by talking about it. Besides, it ain't no big thing — I just threw her through a door."

Now, let's move on to Michel'le, Dre's ex-fiancée, who claims Dre beat her so badly she needed plastic surgery. In a 2015 interview with The Breakfast Club (via The Hollywood Reporter,) she said, "I have scars that are just amazing." 

Felicia Pearson

You might know Felicia "Snoop" Pearson as the cold-blooded murderer of the same name on the legendary HBO crime-drama, The Wire. Famed horror author Stephen King even called her "the most terrifying female villain to ever appear in a television series." 

In a terrible case of art appearing to imitate life, Pearson served six years behind bars after being convicted of second-degree murder in 1996 at the age of 14. According to The Washington Post, Pearson got into a fight with another teen named Okia "Kia" Toomer. Court records say Pearson "pulled out a gun and fired it. Twice. The crowd scattered. Kia ran, too. But a bullet pierced her left buttock, tearing through nerves, veins and arteries before it exited the other side." Kia died on an operating table at age 15.


From crack dealer to CEO, some might argue that Jay-Z is the modern incarnation of the American Dream, but one man's dream is another man's nightmare. Don't forget that in 1999, the hip-hop mogul was arrested for allegedly stabbing record executive Lance "Un" Rivera in the stomach at a Manhattan nightclub. 

According to The New York Times, Jay-Z approached Rivera at the club and accused him of pirating and bootlegging his yet to be released Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter. A fight broke out and, according to court documents, Jay-Z stabbed Rivera ''more than once in the back with a knife" and slashed his abdomen. Jay-Z pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and was sentenced to three years probation, reported MTV News.

Jay-Z reflects on the incident in his 2010 book, Decoded (via MTV News), saying that he "was blacking out with anger. The next thing I knew, all hell had broken loose in the club."

Mark Wahlberg

Before he was a funky one-hit wonder and underwear-model-turned actor, Mark Wahlberg grew up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. By the age of 13, he had a cocaine problem, and by 15, he was reportedly a virulent racist. He threw rocks and spewed racial slurs at black, fourth grade schoolchildren in 1986, reported The Smoking Gun

It got worse. Way worse. According to Thought Catalog: "One year later, in a single day, he knocked Thahn Lam—a middle-aged man of Vietnamese descent—unconscious with a stick while calling him 'Vietnam fucking s**t' and, on that same evening, punched Vietnam native Hoa Trinh [in the face] … After being brought to the scene on the first charge, Wahlberg told officers, 'You don't have to let him identify me, I'll tell you now that's the motherf**ker whose head I split open.'" He also reportedly lobbed racial slurs during police proceedings. He spent 45 days in a correctional facility. 

In 2014, Wahlberg attempted to get a full pardon for his crimes. That didn't go over well. 

"I don't think he should get a pardon," Kristyn Atwood, one of the schoolchildren Wahlberg allegedly terrorized, told the Associated Press (via The Guardian.) "I don't really care who he is. It doesn't make him any exception. If you're a racist, you're always going to be a racist."

Justin Bieber

If you're into comparing, Justin Bieber is nowhere near the terrible level of the other people on this list. But if you're into tracking patterns of horrible behavior, the Canadian-born singer has a lot to answer for as a young man in his twenties.

There was the time he urinated in a restaurant janitor's mop bucket. There was the 2013 arrest for drag racing a yellow Lamborghini while reportedly under the influence of marijuana and prescription drugs in Miami. Remember when he received two years probation in 2014 for egging his neighbor's house? Don't forget his 2014 arrest for assault and dangerous driving in Canada — the Biebs reportedly crashed into a man riding an ATV then tried to fight him. There was the 2015 arrest warrant issued by the Argentinian government after Bieber ignored requests to be interviewed regarding allegations that his bodyguards physically attacked a man. There's also the video of Bieber using the n-word and singing about joining the KKK. You may recall the time he was banned from entering China

Oh, there's more, but you get the idea.