Celebrities Who Killed People In Real Life

Celebrities lead lives of which most of us could only dream. While their wealth and power position them in the lap of luxury, when it comes to something as serious as murder, no amount of fame is enough to escape the criminal justice system. Sure, some have gotten away with it and some have served time, but they all had to face the music at some point. 

The deaths caused by the celebs on this list are the result of everything from tragic accidents to grisly premeditated murders. One of them even occurred live at a televised sporting event, with the clip being passed around the internet like so many other viral videos.  Amazingly, only a few of the famous folks on this list are still in jail, as of this writing, but regardless, they all share the same dark, common bond. These are the celebs who reportedly killed people in real life.

Michael Jace

In May 2016, a Los Angeles jury convicted actor Michael Jace of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his wife, April, in May 2014. Michael Jace was previously best known for playing police officer Julian Lowe on the crime series The Shield (2002-2008). According to Us Weekly, he told detectives he never intended to kill his wife — only injure her. The murder occurred at Michael and April's home in front of their two sons, who were ages 5 and 8 at the time. The elder son told the court that before his dad shot his mom three times, his dad allegedly told her, "If you like running, then run to heaven." Jace then called 911 after the shooting and told the operator what he'd done.

Michael appeared to be under severe financial strain in the years before his 2014 arrest, according to court documents obtained by CNN. He filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in March 2011, citing $500,000 in debts and an annual income of around $80,000 from residuals from his TV and film work. He had defaulted on the $411,000 mortgage on his home. According to CBS News, April told her husband she wanted a divorce the day of the shooting.

"I just ruined lives," he reportedly told detectives after the incident, adding, "You could put the needle in my arm right now and be done. I'm fine with that." ABC7 reports that Jace was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Chris Benoit

In a horrific murder/suicide, wrestling star Chris Benoit reportedly strangled his wife, smothered his 7-year-old son, and placed Bibles at their sides before hanging himself from the pulley of a weight machine in June 2007, according to Fox News. There was rampant speculation about Benoit abusing steroids, but a report published by the Sports Legacy Institute (via Science Daily) indicated that years of head trauma likely resulted in the kind of brain damage necessary to drive someone to commit such a heinous act.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Don King

Don King is probably one of the most notorious figures associated with sports, particularly boxing. This guy has been implicated and indicted countless times, but none of his professional malfeasances have been a surprise to those who know his history. Before he promoted his first fight, King reportedly killed not one, but two people.

According to ESPN, "He [shot and] killed a man who tried to rob one of his gambling houses" in 1954. "The shooting was ruled a justifiable homicide, sparing King a prison sentence." While this first death was ruled as a case of self-defense, King was later convicted of second-degree manslaughter after he reportedly "stomped a man to death" over an alleged $600 gambling debt in 1976. According to Complex, "King received a pardon from the Ohio Governor after doing almost four years in prison."

Matthew Broderick

Fresh off filming Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Matthew Broderick and his co-star, Jennifer Grey, took a trip to Northern Ireland in 1987. However, the vacation was tragically cut short when Broderick failed to keep his rental car in the proper lane and collided head-on with a car being driven by a mother and daughter, killing them both instantly. Broderick was badly injured, but Grey escaped relatively unscathed — although according to People, she was traumatized into quasi-retirement. Meanwhile, Broderick was reportedly charged with careless driving and fined $175, reported the New York Post.

Sid Vicious

Legendary punk rocker, heroin addict, and all-around maniac Sid Vicious lived up to his foreboding name in 1978 when he allegedly stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death in their Chelsea Hotel room. According to the police report, published online by The Smoking Gun, Sid Vicious was reportedly under the influence of drugs and couldn't remember the details of the alleged incident. While out on bail and awaiting his trial for the charge of second-degree murder, Vicious overdosed and died at a friend's house.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Vince Neil

All the members of Mötley Crüe are known for leading lives of excess, but singer Vince Neil's past includes a particularly dark chapter. According to MTV News, Neil (real name Vincent Neil Wharton) reportedly spent a day drinking with Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley in December 1984, then got behind the wheel and raced off to a liquor store for more booze with Dingley. Neil reportedly lost control of his vehicle and collided head-on with another car, killing Dingley and severely injuring the two passengers in the other vehicle. Though he paid out millions to his victims' families, he served very little time.

The notion that he got off easy wasn't lost on Neil. In a 2005 interview with Blender, he said, "I wrote a $2.5 million check for vehicular manslaughter when Razzle died. I should have gone to prison. I definitely deserved to go to prison" (via Opposing Views). "But I did 30 days in jail and got laid and drank beer, because that's the power of cash. That's f**ked up."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Phil Spector

In 2003, after a night of drinking, followed by a romantic rejection, record producer Phil Spector allegedly put a gun in actress Lana Clarkson's mouth and pulled the trigger. He then walked outside and reportedly told his chauffeur, "I think I killed somebody" — or so the prosecution in his murder trial would have the jury believe.

His defense, according to The New York Times, alleged that Spector's non-native English speaking driver misheard Spector's pleas to "call someone" on account of some gurgling noises from a nearby fountain coupled with the driver's "fatigue and hunger from working all night." The jury didn't buy it, and in 2009, Spector was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 19 years to life.

Tony Stewart

Nobody ever said auto racing was safe, yet while accidents routinely occur during the sport, deaths are relatively rare. Sadly, this was not the case when Tony Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward during a dirt-track race at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York in 2014.

Controversy swirled over whether or not Stewart intentionally struck Ward, as well as why Ward climbed out of the safety of his vehicle in the first place and decided to walk onto the track during an active race. According to CBS Sports, a grand jury cleared Stewart of wrongdoing and also discovered that Ward had been under the influence of marijuana the night he died.

Ward's family sued, alleging Stewart could have easily avoided hitting Ward. Stewart and the Ward family eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money, although Ward's mother, Pamela, told USA Today that the family "felt like we were being forced to settle," after their law firm refused to take the case to trial just weeks ahead of their court date. "We wanted (Stewart) to be held accountable in front of a jury of his peers," Pamela Ward continued. "He was not held accountable in a criminal case. He basically has never been held responsible at any point."

Charles S. Dutton

Before taking an interest in acting, Charles S. Dutton had a pretty rough life. According to the Chicago Tribunethe name of his 1990s Fox sitcom, Roc, came from his real-life nickname, which he earned through his frequent participation in rock-throwing fights as a kid. "I liked getting in trouble," he said (via NPR). "I enjoyed getting in fights. I enjoyed the challenge of battle."

This penchant for violence allegedly escalated. At age 17, he reportedly killed a man, and though Dutton claimed he was defending himself from an attack, the incident resulted in a manslaughter conviction and a 5-year sentence. According to NPR, "Even in prison, though, he continued his fighting ways, assaulting a guard and getting eight years added to his sentence. A decade or so later, he was on his way to 'the hole' for solitary confinement when he picked up a book of plays sent to him by a girlfriend. It ended up changing his life. As he puts it, he found what he was 'born to do.'" Dutton petitioned the warden to start a prison drama group.

Upon his release, Dutton earned a master's degree in acting from the Yale School of Drama and became an Emmy-winning actor and advocate through his "From Jail to Yale" stage performance.

Rebecca Gayheart

In June 2001, actress Rebecca Gayheart was driving her friend's car in Los Angeles when she hit 9-year-old Jorge Cruz Jr. "as he jaywalked across the street," according to E! News. Cruz survived the initial strike, but died of his injuries a day later at L.A. Children's Hospital. Eyewitnesses said that after several cars stopped to let Cruz cross, Gayheart allegedly "swerved around the traffic and into a two-way left-turn lane, hitting the boy."

Gayheart, who police said was not intoxicated at the time of the accident, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. She was sentenced to "three years' probation, a one-year suspension of her license, a $2,800 fine," and "750 hours of community service," reported E! News. Though she's rarely spoken publicly about the details of the accident, on the day of her sentencing, Gayheart's lawyer said, "It was the worst thing that could ever have happened to her, killing a child. She feels terrible." Gayheart also settled a wrongful death civil suit filed against her by the Cruz family for an undisclosed amount.

In May 2005, the former "Noxema girl" told People that it took her years to cope with that tragic day. She claimed she "couldn't really function for a while" and eventually turned to therapy to try to rebuild her life. "I don't think anyone could sit and say they got over something like this," Gayheart said. "I just don't think that's possible. It hasn't been for me."

Keith Moon

The Who drummer Keith Moon reportedly ran his Bentley over his chauffeur, Neil Boland, while allegedly trying to escape from a pack of skinheads in January 1970, reported Rolling Stone. The rock star was charged with drunk driving, driving without a license, and driving without insurance, but those charges were later dropped. According to the media outlet, "Under the circumstances, the judge told Moon, 'You had no choice but to act the way you did and no moral culpability is attached to you.'"

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Gig Young

On the screen, actor Gig Young was a consummate performer, but his personal life seemed like a photo negative of his professional one. He was nominated for an Academy Award three times and won for best supporting actor in 1970 for his role in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" off screen. However, Young became an alcoholic and saw three marriages end in divorce, according to Entertainment Weekly. (He also lost his second wife, Sophie Rosenstein, to cancer.) 

In 1973, Young blew one of the biggest leading man opportunities he would ever get when he was fired from "Blazing Saddles" after being incapable of performing due to severe withdrawal symptoms. He was replaced with Gene Wilder. Young developed a reputation for being unreliable and was even said to be suffering from the "Curse of the Oscar." His troubles came to a head five years later, when, just three weeks after marrying German actress Kim Schmidt, he shot and killed her then turned the gun on himself, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Longtime agent and friend Martin Baum, to whom Young willed almost his entire estate, said, "He seemed like a man who had everything going for him. How little we know."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Michael Massee

Rising action star Brandon Lee died in March 1993 on the set of "The Crow" after being shot with an ill-prepared prop gun. In what is perhaps the ultimate irony, he passed away while filming his character's death scene, which, according to The Telegraph, fueled a number of wild conspiracy theories. But there was another victim that day as well: Lee's co-star, Michael Massee.

Massee is the actor who played the villain, Funboy, and he was the unlucky one who pulled the trigger, discharging what was eventually revealed to be a fragment of a "dummy bullet" accidentally left in the chamber after the gun was used to shoot close-ups earlier in the day. According to People, the fragment came to rest near Lee's spine and caused so much damage that doctors were unable to save his life. 

Massee, who died of cancer in 2016 at the age of 64, reportedly only spoke publicly about the tragic accident one time, in a 2005 Extra interview. He said Lee's death affected him so deeply that he immediately took an entire year off to do nothing but stick close to family and friends. When asked if he'd "gotten over it," Massee said, "I don't think you ever get over something like that. No, I've gone through it a lot and things keep changing ... You just keep on going. Life is extraordinary and very resilient, you know? And you take the good where you see it, and that's how I have."

Lillo Brancato

Best known for his roles as Calogero or "C" in "A Bronx Tale" (1993) and Matt Bevilaqua on "The Sopranos" (1999-2007), Lillo Brancato threw his already spiraling career down the drain when he was involved in an attempted burglary gone horribly wrong in 2005.

According to The New York Times, Brancato, who was a self-proclaimed drug addict, along with an associate, Steven Armento, attempted to break into the house of someone Brancato knew who was "a friend who had provided him with drugs many times." After hearing them break a window, an off-duty NYPD officer and neighbor, Daniel Enchautegui, called 911 and then went outside to investigate. While confronting the men, Armento shot and killed the officer. 

The New York Daily News reports that "Brancato, shot twice by the dying cop, beat a charge of felony murder in the case. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a burglary conviction." Meanwhile, Armento was sentenced to life in prison. After his parole, Brancato told ABC7 that he takes "full responsibility" for decisions he made that "contributed to the death of that heroic police officer."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Lane Garrison

In 2006, actor Lane Garrison's career prospects were looking good. He had a recurring role on "Prison Break" as David "Tweener" Apolskis (2005-07) as well as a small part in the Mark Wahlberg action blockbuster "Shooter" (2007). But on Dec. 2, 2006, the 26-year-old star decided to party with some teens he met in a grocery store parking lot, and everything went sideways.

According to People, Garrison went to a party with the teens and was "driving them back to the store" when he lost control of his Land Rover and hit a tree. Seventeen-year-old passenger Vahagn Setian was rushed to the hospital but did not survive. An unidentified 15-year-old female passenger suffered "a fractured pelvis and shattered arm," and another 15-year-old female passenger was "not seriously injured." At the time of the crash, People reported that Garrison's blood alcohol level was .20 and police reported that he had "an undisclosed amount of cocaine in his system, according to a blood test."

Garrison pleaded guilty to "vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and two other alcohol-related charges," according to People. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison. After serving his time, Garrison told the Today show that it was difficult for him to not be able to reach out to the Setian family on account of a court order barring him from contacting them. "There's a family that doesn't have their son," he said. "The least of my worries was doing jail time. The whole notion that I was responsible for someone losing their life, that's what really ate me up inside. This is something that I am never going to get over, they're never going to get over."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).


In December 2006, R&B singer Brandy (full name Brandy Norwood) rear-ended another motorist, Awatef Aboudihaj, which caused a chain reaction involving four cars. Aboudihaj died as a result of "major injuries" sustained during the crash, reported People. After a year-long investigation, prosecutors determined "there was insufficient evidence" to charge Brandy with vehicular manslaughter. However, the "Have You Ever" singer did settle various lawsuits with the other motorists, including one with Aboudihaj's husband for an undisclosed amount. She also reportedly agreed to pay $300,000 each to Aboudihaj's two sons, who were in the vehicle with their mom at the time of the accident.

Speaking with Oprah Winfrey in 2014 (via HuffPost), Brandy said the tragedy renewed her faith in God because she had "no one else to turn to." She also echoed the sentiments of others on this list, describing the lasting toll of this terrible turn of events. "Being involved in something that tragic ... I couldn't believe it," Brandy continued. "I don't think that's something I could ever get over or ever truly understand, but that was one of the worst times in my life."

William S. Burroughs

One of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century, William S. Burroughs is widely regarded as a leading figure in the Beat movement, thanks to such groundbreaking novels as "Naked Lunch," and "Junkie." 

In 1951, Burroughs and common-law wife Joan Vollmer were living in Mexico City. During a party, where much alcohol had been imbibed, Burroughs brandished a new pistol he'd recently purchased, eager to demonstrate his skills as a marksman. Emulating William Tell's alleged ability to shoot an apple off someone's head with a bow and arrow, Vollmer placed a glass atop her own head, with the intent that Burroughs would fire a shot that hit the glass while leaving her unscathed. Instead, Burroughs told authorities, the bullet struck her in the forehead, and she died shortly afterward. Burroughs later changed his story, reported the Albany Times Union, claiming he accidentally dropped the gun, causing it to inadvertently discharge. Burroughs spent 13 days in a Mexican jail until friends bribed his jailers so he could flee the country and return to the U.S. He was tried in absentia, and received a two-year suspended sentence.

Later in life, Burroughs credited the accident for his career as a writer. "I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan's death," he wrote in the introduction to his book "Queer," adding, "and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Ted Kennedy

Following the assassinations of his older brothers John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, all the aspirations of the Kennedy family's dynasty in American politics came to rest on the shoulders of youngest sibling Ted Kennedy. Everything changed, however, on the night of July 18, 1969, when a car that the Massachusetts senator was driving accidentally veered off the Dike Bridge on the small island of Chappaquiddick, near Martha's Vineyard, flipping over and landing upside down in a pond. Kennedy was able to free himself from the vehicle; 28-year-old passenger Mary Jo Kopechne did not, and drowned. 

What happened next has been the subject of much speculation — an entire movie, 2017's "Chappaquiddick," was devoted to the incident — after Kennedy returned to his hotel room, not notifying authorities of the accident until nine hours later. According to History, because of the delay in reporting the incident, police were unable to determine whether Kennedy was intoxicated while behind the wheel. As a result, he never faced any manslaughter charges. Ultimately, Kennedy pled guilty to a single charge of leaving the scene of an accident. He received a two-month suspended sentence and was temporarily prohibited from driving. He denied there was any impropriety with Kopechne, yet the scandal followed him for the rest of his life.

While it will never be known what truly took place on that bridge, what eventually became apparent was that any presidential ambitions Kennedy may have had died along with Kopechne on that fateful night. 

John Huston

As a film director, the work of John Huston speaks for itself. During a career spanning five decades, he directed dozens of motion pictures, ranging from Humphrey Bogart classics "The Maltese Falcon" and "The African Queen" to the 1982 screen adaptation of the Broadway musical "Annie." Huston was also an actor with more than 50 screen credits under his belt, most notably corrupt L.A. industrialist Noah Cross in "Chinatown." 

Back in 1933, however, the 26-year-old was best known as the son of actor Walter Huston when he was involved in a fatal car accident, his car striking a female pedestrian while she crossed the street. According to a report by The New York Times, the woman — identified as Tosca Izabel Roulien, wife of Brazilian actor Raul Roulien — was killed when the force of impact sent her body sailing more than 30 feet through the air. Huston was placed on trial for her death; however, as the Los Angeles Times reported, witnesses confirmed the car had not been moving excessively fast. Ultimately, the jury determined that Roulien's death was an accident, and Huston was found to be not guilty.

Whether or not Huston was actually behind the wheel, however, has become something of a Hollywood mystery. According to HuffPost, a longstanding rumor holds that the driver of the car that killed Roulien was actually movie star Clark Gable, with legendary Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix handsomely paying off Huston to take the fall.

Laura Bush

Decades before becoming America's First Lady, Laura Bush found herself at the center of tragedy. During the 2000 presidential campaign of her husband, George W. Bush, reports surfaced of a 1963 car accident, in which Bush — then just 17 — ran a stop sign and hit another car, killing that vehicle's 17-year-old driver, Michael Douglas. 

In her 2010 memoir, "Spoken from the Heart," Bush opened up about how profoundly she was impacted by accidentally taking another life. "I lost my faith that November, lost it for many, many years," she wrote. She also wrote of being unable to overcome the guilt she continued to carry with her throughout her life — particularly for not attending the funeral, nor reaching out to the deceased's parents, both of which she had come to deeply regret. "In the aftermath, all I felt was guilty, very guilty. In fact I still do," Bush wrote.

Speaking with the Houston Chronicle, Bush's former classmate, Raymond "Scooter" Jenkins, recalled that her fellow students felt sympathy for Bush — then Laura Welch — and the friends and family of Douglas, and that everyone was simply saddened by what occurred. "We knew she took it hard. She really was devastated by that as most kids would be," Jenkins said. "It was something everybody wished hadn't happened for both him and her."

Felicia Pearson

Felicia Pearson is familiar to fans of HBO crime drama "The Wire" for her breakout performance as Snoop. Becoming an actor, however, certainly wasn't an ambition for Pearson while growing up in foster care in Baltimore, the child of two drug addicts. When Pearson was cast on the show, she brought no shortage of authenticity to the role of a cold-hearted assassin working for a drug kingpin. That's because, when she was just 14, she was convicted of second-degree murder for the shooting death of Okia Toomer, a 15-year-old girl. She was released from state prison after spending six-and-a-half years behind bars.

Looking back, Pearson had come to regret killing the girl. "If I could change that, I could just go back and change that right there," she said in a 2007 interview with WNYC.

Despite her unexpected career as an actor, Pearson never managed to fully escape her criminal past. In 2011, The Washington Post reported that she was one of more than 60 people arrested in a sprawling law-enforcement sweep, involving both state and federal agencies, to bring down a massive drug ring. Pearson entered a guilty plea, to a charge of conspiracy to sell heroin. She was sentenced to a seven-year prison term; however, all but the five months she'd already served — most of it under house arrest — while awaiting trial was suspended. In 2021, it was reported that a TV series about Pearson's life was in the works. 

Amy Locane

Actor Amy Locane is best known for portraying Sandy Louise Harling during the first season of "Melrose Place," with other credits including the films "Secretary," "Blue Sky," and "Prefontaine." 

On June 27, 2010, Locane made the ill-fated decision to get behind the wheel after downing several drinks. Her impairment led her to lose control of her vehicle, slamming into another car and killing its passenger. Locane was placed under arrest and hit with several charges. In 2012, reported People, she was convicted of second-degree vehicular homicide, with the jury learning that her blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of the accident. She received a three-year prison sentence. "There were no winners declared by the verdict," assistant prosecutor Matthew Murphy solemnly told the Associated Press (via People). "There are only losers. A husband lost his dear wife; his two children lost their mother; and Helene's mother lost her daughter."

When Locane was released in 2015, she faced the uphill climb of being an ex-con attempting to get her shattered life back on track. However, in 2016 the victim's family won an appeal — on the grounds that the initial sentence had been too lenient — and she wound up being sentenced to another eight years, in addition to another 18 months for an entirely new charge that had been added, fourth-degree assault by auto. Locane was sent back to prison, with no eligibility for parole until 2024.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Spade Cooley

Spade Cooley may be a footnote in the annals of country music these days, but during his heyday in the 1950s he was a major star, known for his virtuosity on the fiddle and his uncanny resemblance to singing cowboy Roy Rogers (Cooley, in fact, served as Rogers' stand-in for several of his big-screen westerns). With a hit TV show and a popular stage act, Cooley's fame at the time was recognized when he was awarded his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Cooley's fans, however, were none the wiser that the self-proclaimed King of Western Swing was a pill-popping alcoholic with a mean streak, who habitually beat both his first and second wives. 

In 1961, Cooley's second wife, Ella Mae, was in the process of divorcing him. Suspicious that she was cheating on him, Cooley savagely beat her to death, over the course of several hours, even torturing her with lit cigarettes — all while forcing their teenage daughter to watch. According to SFGate, the trial was sensational, with Cooley initially claiming insanity before changing his plea.

He received a life sentence (via FindLaw). Cooley proved to be a model prisoner, and was granted parole after just nine years. Shortly before his release, Cooley was given a 72-hour furlough so he could perform at a concert. After his final number was met with enthusiastic applause, Cooley walked backstage, collapsed, and died of a massive heart attack. Spade Cooley's star can still be found on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Gucci Mane

Gucci Mane is one of the rap world's hottest stars, yet his life could have turned out far differently thanks to his role in a 2005 shooting. The rapper — whose real name is Radric Davis — had reportedly dropped by the apartment of a female friend when several armed men burst in. A scuffle ensued and shots were fired, leading the gunmen to beat a hasty retreat. One of those men, Henry Lee Clark III, was found dead several days later, with the rapper charged with murder. 

Mane confirmed that he shot at the men, but insisted he had acted out of self defense. When an eyewitness came forward to support his claims, however, the prosecution's murder case was scuttled. "There wasn't enough evidence to meet the elements of murder," said the rapper's attorney, Dennis Scheib (via MTV News), noting that the eyewitness confirmed the men broke into the apartment with ill intent. "It was going to be either a robbery, an aggravated assault or a murder. [Mane] had a right to defend himself," Scheib contended. As a result, all charges were dropped.

While Mane didn't do time, he didn't emerge unscathed. In a 2017 interview with ESPN's "Highly Questionable," he admitted that he struggled with PTSD because of the incident, which he believed led to some questionable behavior. "I felt like it was inevitable that I was going to hurt somebody and end up going to prison or something like that," he said, per Paper

Suge Knight

For decades, Marion "Suge" Knight was one of the most powerful men in the rap genre, co-founder of Death Row Records along with Dr. Dre and Dick Griffey. Over the years, reports of Knight's violent, gangster-like behavior had become all too frequent, ranging from a claim that he pistol-whipped two rappers for not showing him enough respect, to forcing a promoter to drink his urine, to dangling Vanilla Ice out off the end of a balcony during a dispute over songwriting credit.

Yet it was an incident of road rage in 2015 that sealed Knight's fate when a disagreement with two associates ended with Knight driving over them with his vehicle, leaving one injured and the other dead. Knight was arrested, charged with murder, attempted murder, and hit and run, per The Florida Times-Union. In 2018, he entered a plea of no contest to charges of voluntary manslaughter, with Knight's lawyers claiming he was acting in self-defense. As The Guardian reported, Knight was sentenced to 28 years behind bars. At the sentencing, the daughter of the man he had killed described Knight as "a disgusting, selfish disgrace to the human species."

Meanwhile, in March 2023, TMZ reported that Knight — still behind bars — and his brother Bryan Brown were angling to tell his life story in a television series. 

Aaron Hernandez

In 2012, Aaron Hernandez was one of the NFL's hottest players, having just signed a $41-million contract with the New England Patriots. At the same time, a police investigation into an unsolved double homicide began leading to Hernandez — but more about that later. In 2013, Hernandez was arrested and charged with the murder in the shooting death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, per The Guardian. Hours after his arrest, Hernandez was cut by the Patriots, and was subsequently indicted on six counts, including first-degree murder.  

According to CNN, in 2014, while imprisoned on that murder charge, Hernandez was then charged with the shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, after evidence in that double murder indicated he was the killer. Meanwhile, police had identified Hernandez as a person of interest in another crime, the double murder of two men in Gainesville, Florida, during the period when he played for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2015, Hernandez was found guilty in the murder of Lloyd, per The Sporting News. According to SI, he was subsequently found not guilty of the double murders.

In April 2017, Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell, having hung himself with a sheet. He was 27. The autopsy revealed that Hernandez suffered from the most severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy — brain damage brought on by repeated blows to the head — ever witnessed in someone of his age. Hernandez's crimes formed the basis of two different true-crime documentary series, Prime Video's "Aaron Hernandez Uncovered," and Netflix's "Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Caitlyn Jenner

In February 2015, Caitlyn Jenner was driving on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu when her car rear-ended a Lexus that had stopped behind another car, with enough force to send the Lexus smashing into the car ahead. The Lexus was propelled into oncoming traffic, and was struck by a massive Hummer. Passenger Kim Howe was pronounced dead at the scene. Jenner, reported Entertainment Tonight, blamed the accident on paparazzi in cars that had been following her as she drove.

Authorities didn't press any criminal charges, determining they were unable to prove that Jenner was negligent. "We are heartened the district attorney has agreed that even a misdemeanor charge would be inappropriate," said Jenner's attorney, Blair Berk (via CNN). "A traffic accident, however devastating and heartbreaking when a life is lost, is not necessarily a criminal matter." 

Jenner did, however, face civil lawsuits from the other people involved in the accident, per ABC News. Howe's stepchildren hit Jenner with a wrongful death suit; however, TMZ reported that Jenner settled that suit for a "very modest amount," paid not by Jenner but by her insurance company, due to questions of the plaintiffs' legal standing as stepchildren. Meanwhile, the driver of another vehicle also sued; Jenner ultimately ended that lawsuit with an $800,000 settlement — paid not by insurance, but by Jenner herself (via GMA).

Jim Gordon

Drummer Jim Gordon was in rock's upper echelons during the late 1960s and early '70s, backing up the likes of Steely Dan, George Harrison, Frank Zappa, John Lennon, and, most notably, a member of Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominos, credited as co-writer on the band's classic hit "Layla." In fact, no less an authority than Ringo Starr had declared Gordon to be rock's best drummer. He was also schizophrenic, a condition that worsened during the latter part of 1970s as he found it increasingly difficult to shut out the voices filling his head.

By the end of the 1970s, Gordon's mental struggles had cratered his once-stellar music career. In 1983, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer, the hallucinations and delusions he'd been experiencing escalated. In what he later described as an act of self defense, falsely believing his life was at threat, he murdered his mother. Despite his schizophrenia diagnosis and long history of mental health issues, Gordon was convicted of second-degree murder and found guilty, sentenced to 16 years to life. "When I remember the crime, it's kind of like a dream," Gordon told The Washington Post in 1994. "I can remember going through what happened in that space and time, and it seems kind of detached, like I was going through it on some other plane. It didn't seem real."

Gordon had been denied parole three times when, in 2023, he died in the medical facility of a California prison at age 77.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross first made his mark as a background singer on David Bowie's soul-infused "Young Americans" album before launching his own wildly successful solo career. Vandross was at the peak of his popularity in early 1986, having just been nominated for a Grammy, when he was involved in a horrific car accident in Los Angeles. 

According to a report by the Associated Press, Vandross drove into oncoming traffic and hit two other cars. The passenger in his car, 27-year-old Lawrence Salvemini, was killed. Police estimated Vandross had been driving 50 mph, 15 above the speed limit. He was charged with misdemeanor manslaughter and reckless driving. 

Vandross entered a plea of no contest. As jury selection was underway at the start of the trial, Vandross struck a plea deal with prosecutors by pledging to donate the proceeds of a benefit concert to a scholarship fund in memory of Salvemini, who had been his friend. Deputy city attorney John C. Rocke said he was satisfied with the outcome. "I'm just hoping that he is a compassionate man and realizes the gravity of what he did," Rocke said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. Vandross died in 2005 at age 54, in the midst of preparing for a comeback after a serious stroke two years earlier slammed the brakes on his career.