Athletes Who Have Been Viciously Attacked By People

There are two sides to being an athlete. On one end, sports stars enjoy a sense of unreachable privilege. They are often paid millions for their skills on the field. When their popularity grows through the roof, they may couple up with some of our favorite celebs who only have eyes for athletes. Even when their productive years are up, a lucrative career in Hollywood is always waiting for those who are determined enough. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson set the pace with his mega transition to the big screen, making him the highest-paid actor for two consecutive years.

While these highs come with the game, there are low aspects of athletes' personal and professional lives. In the past, popular sports figures like Tiger Woods have ruined their careers in seconds. Woods' infamous split from his Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren, due to infidelity rocked the sports world. In another instance of the chickens coming home to roost, ex-road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong had his Tour de France wins revoked when it was found that he had been using performance-enhancing substances.

Sometimes, athletes are attacked by other people. The reasons vary from arguments that became physical, fans being sour after an opponent lost at a game, to being targeted out of the blue. Keep reading for these sports stars' horrific encounters.

Paul Pierce was stabbed multiple times at a Boston nightclub

Retired NBA small forward Paul Pierce was at a Boston nightclub in September 2000 when a fight broke out. Pierce suffered wounds from being struck in the head and getting stabbed multiple times. In a later interview with Showtime Sports, Pierce looked back at the events of the early morning incident, saying, "It happened so fast. I don't even know how I got into it. It's just one dude right here, the next thing I know, the story come out, I was fighting with three guys ... I didn't even know I was being stabbed." Pierce, who was in a blood-soaked jacket, was taken to the hospital by friends, and he revealed he was worried that he wouldn't make it out alive. Luckily, he received sound medical treatment, which included lung surgery.

After the harrowing experience, the one-time NBA champion beefed up security in his residence and became reclusive, as he shared with ESPN. Basketball, he said, became his way out. "I went to every practice, sat on the sideline for hours because that's where I felt safe," he told the publication. "I didn't want those practices to end because then I had to go back out there in this world that really scared me."

Stedman Bailey survived gunshot wounds to the head

In late November 2015, St. Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey was in a stationary car with family when attackers opened fire. Only the athlete and one other occupant of the vehicle were hurt. Speaking of the moment, Bailey, who was shot in the head twice, told Sports Spectrum, "I feel like maybe if I would have gotten a chance to see the actual hole in my head, I might have freaked out ... I'm glad that I didn't get a chance to see it but the way my wife described it to me, 'cause when she got to the hospital I'm still there, she's like all my meat and stuff [were] hanging out of my head."

By the time Christmas came around that same year, Bailey was out of the hospital, as he shared in a tweet. Before the incident, he had been given a four-game suspension by the NFL for drug misuse. His greatest ambition during the rehabilitation process that followed, as he told the NFL, was to get back on the field.

"It's important to play [again] because it's something that I worked my whole life for, to make it to the big leagues," Bailey expressed. "If it's healthy for me to go out there and play, then I'm definitely all in for it." As of April 2024, Bailey has yet to make a comeback.

Mike Hollins survived a shooting that left his teammates dead

The University of Virginia had a tragedy in mid-November 2022 when students who were on their way back from an excursion were shot at. Three students sustained fatal gunshot wounds: Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr., and D'Sean Perry, all of whom were part of the school's football team. Virginia Cavaliers running back Mike Hollins was also injured. He recollected his interaction with the assailant, 22-year-old Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a former teammate, in a chat with "Good Morning America."

Mike recalled that he'd returned to the school bus after the shooting began to help rescue other students when Jones Jr. approached him. "He was just so close, and I felt so hopeless and so powerless in that moment," he told the outlet. "We locked eyes and that was it ... in that moment, I just dropped everything and took off running. I felt him hit me in my back."

Mike was immediately attended to by a pre-med student and taken to a medical facility afterward. A week after the attack, his mother, Brenda Hollins, tweeted that he was out of hospital. It took four months for Mike to return to playing football.

Alexey Shved was attacked while leaving a restaurant

Russian point guard Alexey Shved made his NBA debut in 2012 when he was signed to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was a dream come true since Shved was a fan of the league when he was growing up. "We didn't have internet. We'd get VHS tapes and watch a game 200 times. When I made it to the league, some of those guys had retired, but some were my teammates," Shved told VTB United League of his achievement. He played for two other teams — the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets — before bowing out of the New York Knicks after a rib injury. Shved returned to his home country and signed with his former team, Khimki Moscow, and later, CSKA Moscow.

In May 2023, Shved was assaulted while he was making his way out of a restaurant, suffering a head injury. The reason for the attack was reportedly due to a loss in a game against the rival Lokomotiv-Kuban. Shved was whisked to the hospital after the unfortunate incident. Four days later, the attackers in question, 31-year-old Yusuf and three other persons of interest, were taken into custody. One of the suspects, 19-year-old Gleb Pisarev, was later released after being slapped with a reported two-month house arrest sentence.

After two seasons at CSKA Moscow, Shved bid the team goodbye for China's Shanxi Loongs.

Tommy Pham was stabbed in the back at a strip club

Back when outfielder Tommy Pham played for the San Diego Padres, he got into an altercation with strangers outside a strip club for asking them to step away from his car. Pham, who was slit in the back amid the mayhem and later hospitalized, said in a press release, "While it was a very traumatic and eye-opening experience for me, I'm on the road to recovery, and I know I'll be back to my offseason training routine in no time."

Pham later shared pictures from the fateful night on social media, and it was a gory sight. The cut, which stretched from one side of his hip to the other, left his white shirt soaked in blood. It required a reported 200 stitches to close it up and get him back in good shape. Luck was on Pham's side since his organs had remained intact.

The following year, Pham took the strip club, Pacers Showgirls International, to court for negligence. "I beat them," Pham remarked in a chat with USA Today after the eventual settlement. "They ended up choosing to settle with me for the max. They got crushed. All of the evidence was there; they had to ante up.”

Kim Glass was attacked on the street

In July 2022, retired volleyball player Kim Glass was leaving from having lunch in the company of a friend when an unhoused man, Semeon Tesfamarian, brutally hit her with a metal tube. "He scurried up ... looked at me like this, and it was just like ... rage in his eyes," Glass recounted in a chat with Inside Edition. "All of a sudden I just go 'Bam!' ... and I'm like 'Oh! Snap!' and I just fell straight down to the ground." A series of blood spatters were evident in a shared recording following the ambush. A group of bypassers came to Glass's aid and restrained her attacker. The ordeal left the one-time Olympic silver medalist with several facial fractures, cuts that required stitches, and a black eye.

That month, Tesfamarian was indicted for attacking Glass. More than a year later, the then-53-year-old was given an eight-year jail term. Tesfamarian, as it turned out, wasn't a one-time offender. Irene Lee, a Los Angeles resident who spoke to KCAL-TV, came out as his fourth victim who was assaulted on her way to Starbucks. She, too, had been strolling with a friend when Tesfamarian struck her in a similar way.

Mike Williams was left paralyzed after being shot eight times

Mike Williams was a star basketball player in his formative years. His skills on the court ultimately led to his being picked by the Golden State Warriors in 1986. Williams played for the Sacramento Kings and the Atlanta Hawks and then toured the world before he retired in security.

On November 29, 2009, Williams was set to leave his job as a bouncer in a nightclub when the unthinkable happened. "At about 1:30, 1:45, there was a fight," he recalled in an interview with The Chicago Tribune. "All of a sudden, I'm starting to hear 'Bang! Bang! Bang!' Before ... my mind registered to what happened, I was on the ground. Then I heard four more [gunshots], and then I felt my legs go straight."

Williams was shot eight times. He was left paralyzed below the waist and had a severed kidney. Additionally, a portion of his liver took a hit. Nearly two years afterward, Williams was undergoing physiotherapy six times weekly to be able to get on his feet, though he still relied on help for tasks such as relieving himself. Nevertheless, he was gradually getting better. "I really can't see the progression, you know, 'cause I'm in it," he told The Chicago Tribune in December 2010. "But I remember, though, lying in bed, not able to do anything to what I'm doing now. Yeah, it's an improvement."

Ken Hamlin fractured his skull in a nightclub brawl

Safety Ken Hamlin has since left the NFL, but back when he played for the Seattle Seahawks, he was involved in a fight that sent him to hospital. Hamlin suffered major brain damage in the early morning of an October 17, 2005, incident that left one man dead. According to Hamlin's account during a YouTube interview, it was a small misunderstanding that took on a life of its own. He was leaving the club while holding hands with friends when one of them let go. While looking to reconnect through a flock of clubbers, Hamlin mistakenly grabbed someone else's hand, and all hell broke loose, with the crowd ganging up on them.

One stand-alone assailant took things too far. "When we get to the corner, there was a guy hiding around the corner ... [he] tried to shoot me ... gun didn't go off ... and they started hitting me ... that's where the fractured skull, blood clots, all that stuff came down," Hamlin narrated.

A week after the brawl, Hamlin was out of hospital. It took seven months for him to play football again. "I'm grateful to be back out there," he told the Patriots when he returned, adding, "It's great to be out there running around."

Monica Seles was stabbed at a tennis game

In the early '90s, Monica Seles was hailed as the youngest tennis player to ever win a French Open title at 16. Three years after Seles set the record, she was in Germany playing against Magdalena Maleeva the latter's fan stabbed her in the back. "I remember sitting on the bench," Seles recounted in an interview with Sky One. "Just like thinking to myself, I should change. I'm giving my opponent a little bit of too much ... and then suddenly I just feel ... such a hard pain." Seles fell to the ground, and everyone nearby rallied around her. She was taken to hospital and never returned to the tournament. Although she was in the lead, the competition didn't come to a halt.

Her attacker, Günter Parche, was handed a two-year jail term, which was eventually suspended. Seles, who felt that justice hadn't been served, put out a press release that read in part, "What kind of message does this send to the world? Mr. Parche has admitted that he stalked me, then he stabbed me once, and attempted to stab me a second time. And now the court has said he does not have to go to jail for this premeditated crime."

The following year, Seles secured United States citizenship. After two years of not playing professionally, she made a WTA Tour comeback in August 1995.

Darrent Williams was killed on New Year's Eve

In July 2005, Darrent Williams signed a four-year contract with the Denver Broncos with a $1.3 million bonus. The cornerback never lived to see the end of the deal. On New Year's Eve, 2007, Williams was gunned down near a Denver nightclub in an ordeal that left two other people injured. He was in the company of friends, including Denver Broncos wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Javon Walker, who told "Real Sports" their version of events (via The Associated Press).

According to Marshall's narration, trouble began when the group sprayed champagne, hitting two other clubgoers who then confronted them. Things escalated when Williams' group left the club. The athlete was already aboard their ride for the night, a limousine when he got shot.

Walker, who was next to him, said, "All I remember at that point in time was he was just looking up at me, and I was just like, 'I got you, Dee, I got you, Dee. I got you, Dee.' So, the limo went off the road into the side of the snow. I just remember grabbing him, pulling him out [of] the limo." Sadly, Williams took his last breath in Walker's arms. According to friends who spoke to ESPN months after the tragedy, Walker was seeking therapy to deal with Williams' loss.

Vince Young was knocked out in a bar fight

Although Vince Young was exceptionally talented in college football and landed a spot in the NFL in 2006 as a Titan, he often made headlines for the wrong reasons. He had a clash with Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher and squandered millions he made during his career. In 2010, Young got into a fight at a Dallas strip club. He reportedly became angry in the back room when the nightclub's manager took a stab at his former team, the University of Texas Longhorns.

Long after he'd retired, Young was involved in another fight. Video footage shared by TMZ showed the ex-quarterback receiving a blow at a Houston bar that briefly knocked him out. In the March 2024 incident, Young reportedly had an argument over the topic of race.

Young has not only gotten himself into fights as an adult, but it also happened in his childhood. In an interview with "In Depth with Graham Bensinger," Young revealed that he was apprehended in middle school after exchanging blows. Back then, his mom warned him that his future would be bleak. "My mom hated when I got in trouble in school," Young narrated. "When she comes up there, she's about to embarrass me in front of everybody ... I took that and got in the car; she's screaming and howling at me, you know. The most thing she was saying that I got out of that ... was 'You're going to be dead, crippled, or in jail.'"