Shaun Weiss: The tragic life of the goalie from The Mighty Ducks

Best known as hockey goalie Greg Goldberg in The Mighty Ducks trilogy, we first caught a glimpse of Shaun Weiss' talents in his TV debut years earlier, playing Elvis on the first season of Pee-wee's Playhouse. The former child actor then moved on to roles in WebsterCharles in Charge, and The Cosby Show, before landing the part that made him a star. Originally slated to play Atuk, a one-liner goalie, Weiss impressed The Mighty Ducks production team enough during his audition and training camp that they expanded his role into the one we all know and love.

Yet, whether you know him as #33 on the Mighty Ducks team or from his later roles in Heavyweights or Freaks and Geeks, Weiss has changed quite a bit over the years. With his acting days largely behind him, the '90s stars' adult life has sadly been plagued with a series of misfortunes and legal problems. While friends have urged the court of public opinion to hold off on judgment, citing an ongoing battle with mental illness as the primary cause of his problems, it appears Weiss' memorable career is slowly being overwritten by arrest headlines, tales of drug usage, and before-and-after pictures. 

In an effort to paint a clearer picture of his struggles, let's dig into some of the more recent stories about the former actor. We bring you the tragic life of Shaun Weiss.

How to revitalize a career

After his Mighty Ducks fame, Shaun Weiss bounced around on television for some years, with his last major movie role coming in the form of 2008's Drillbit Taylor. But according to an interview with Oy!Chicago, Weiss started trying his hand at stand-up comedy and screenwriting around 2000. In 2014, the actor-turned-comedian launched an unsuccessful Kickstarter to help him fund his own national stand-up tour, along with a documentary called Back on the Map, and later performed on Ron Jeremy's XL Comedy Tour.

During this time, Weiss also made several attempts to make a show or film about him trying to make it back into Tinseltown. This vision began with a pilot called What About Weiss in 2013, a seedling that became the 2015 web series, Why Not Weiss. Though he only posted five episodes, Weiss had big plans for the series: in addition to pitching it as a show, he envisioned it being the vehicle for a Mighty Ducks reunion that would never happen. Weiss discussed the interesting premise on the Reza Rifts podcast, explaining, "Some kind of mysterious stranger approaches me and is like, 'Listen, if you get the Ducks together ... me and my buddies want to do a fantasy sports camp with you guys, play hockey with you.' So I actually round the guys up, you know, for some serious cash, and it turns out that the guys who want to play us are the actual old Hawks."

Shaun Weiss' petty theft charges

One of the first hints of trouble for Shaun Weiss, at least in the public eye, came in 2017. According to TMZ, the former '90s star was arrested after he reportedly snatched $151 worth of goods from Fry's Electronics in Los Angeles. Two days later, he was sentenced to 150 days in the city's county jail after he pleaded no contest to petty theft charges. While the sentence seemed harsh for such a charge, it was supposedly because it was the second such charge made against the former actor. 

Though the details of Weiss' first arrest are unknown, his troubles were serious enough that he felt his jail sentence might put him on a better path in life. "[Shaun] hopes jail will help him," his talent manager, Don Gibble, told the gossip rag. "Maybe while he is in jail he will write something." Well, it turned out he wouldn't get much time to try out his creative hand: due to overcrowding, Weiss only served 12 days behind bars before being released, per TMZ. After the news of his arrest broke, Weiss poked fun at himself and his situation on Twitter, writing, "I have not seen the mugshot. But if it isn't captioned 'Fry'd Duck' it's a crime."

The goalie from The Mighty Ducks went down a slippery slope

Though he hoped his brush with the law would give him some creative inspiration, it appeared to do the opposite for Shaun Weiss. Just five days out from serving his shortened jail sentence in 2017, the Mighty Ducks goalie found himself back in police custody, this time for alleged possession of a controlled substance. According to TMZ, Burbank police responded to reports of a "suspicious person stumbling around yards in a neighborhood near the Warner Bros. studio lot." The authorities allegedly found Weiss in possession of what appeared to be methamphetamine, and the former actor was held on a $20,000 bond.

As a result, Weiss was placed in Burbank City Jail with a misdemeanor charge of drug possession, as per E! News. He was then sentenced to 90 days in county jail. At the time of his arrest, a rep for the actor told the publication, "Shaun is asking for prayers from his fans that he can find the light." Weiss' rep also told Page Six, "He has hit his bottom. Hopefully he will stay clean and sober when he gets out." 

For several months after serving his sentence, Weiss stopped all social media activity and kept out of the public eye entirely.

Shaun Weiss and the mugshot seen around the world

In the summer of 2018, Shaun Weiss returned to the grid gradually. He posted a couple pictures to Instagram in May, along with a few tweets in July — but then TMZ caught wind of another arrest that August. According to Oroville Public Safety Department's Facebook post, "Weiss was arrested for being under the influence of drugs. He was transported and booked into the Butte County Jail." While he was released just hours later, this arrest record also came with a public mugshot — and Weiss' appearance caught the attention of the people

For those who only remembered Weiss as a more hefty child actor, the change in his looks was striking. However, he had lost most of his weight long before this arrest. In stand-up routine from early 2015, an already-thin Weiss spoke about how his weight loss was perceived by the public, telling the crowd, "I worked hard to lose some weight. People see me ... and they're like, 'Oh my god, what the f**k happened to you? Like, are you, do you have cancer or something?'" He added that some people even tell him to "get off the s**t." 

But this new Weiss, then 39, did look rough, and even The Mighty Ducks star knew it. Shortly after the mugshot went viral, he posted Entertainment Tonight's before-and-after shot to Facebook with the caption, "When you're on your own Google feed."

Shaun Weiss admittedly hit rock bottom

Though the total lack of privacy for stars is maybe never as apparent as when they get in trouble, on this occasion, it looked like it was going to do some real good for Shaun Weiss. After the release of his viral mugshot, he began receiving an outpouring of fan support. 

Inspired, the Weiss took to Facebook in August 2018 to announce that he was checking himself into rehab — and he did so in his own humorous way: "At this time, in an effort to break free from the self destructive patterns of behavior and drug abuse that have landed me at rock bottom, (to be real... BELOW rock bottom. Even rock bottom is like 'holy s**t, how'd you get all the way down there?') I have checked in to a well [regarded], long term rehabilitation center." 

It's unclear how long Weiss was in rehab or how he responded to the treatment at the time, but the first step to recovery is for the addict to admit that they have a problem. Even though he eventually relapsed, for Weiss to do this so publicly showed an incredible amount of strength and courage.

The goalie from The Mighty Ducks found his way back to crime

In November 2018 — just a few months after he announced that he was checking into a rehabilitation center — Shaun Weiss found himself in trouble with the police again. TMZ reports that the former actor was allegedly caught stealing $200 worth of goods from a Rite Aid store in Los Angeles. Due to his prior charges, this petty theft bust also came with a probation violation. At the time, Weiss' friends were reportedly trying to contact him to help him, stating that they were "hoping for the best."

Just over a year after that arrest, Weiss' name was back in the headlines, having been arrested for alleged residential burglary in January 2020. According to TMZ, the former Mighty Ducks star, who reportedly appeared to be under the influence of meth, was apparently found by cops going through a vehicle parked in a private garage. Speaking to Fox 40, the homeowner in question, Lou Benninger, described the incident that led to Weiss' arrest: "He just took this hammer and knocked the window out ... My just split-second decision is, do I take it? Do I do it? Because I got a gun, but I didn't feel threatened." Weiss was held at the Yuba County Jail on $52,500 bail.

The family connection to Shaun Weiss' struggles

In recent years, Shaun Weiss' ongoing troubles have shocked fans, but it's been his family and friends who have been at ground level trying to make a difference. According to a longtime friend of the former actor, Marni Gairhan, Weiss' struggles really started after the death of his father around 2015, after which he struggled with depression. She told TMZ in 2018 that when she saw he needed help and contacted his niece for assistance, Weiss wasn't too pleased. Similarly, in a 2020 interview with the Daily Mail, Cheddie Ramcharan — a man who allegedly babysat Weiss in the past and thinks of him like a son — explained that Weiss' sister "does the best she can for him," even trying to take him to a "home," but Weiss refused. Ramcharan added that this had been "a very painful situation for the family."

Before the former actor's 2020 arrest, friend Drew Gallagher posted a hopeful video to Facebook featuring himself with Weiss. Announcing that Weiss had spent his last night on the streets, indicating that he'd found a new place to stay, Gallagher revealed that the host-to-be was Weiss' estranged sister. However, in a follow-up Facebook post, Gallagher stated that the sister "kicked him [out] less than a week after he'd arrived." Around that time, TMZ suggested that the eviction was due to Weiss' alleged bad behavior. Less than a week after leaving his sister's home, Weiss was arrested for burglary.

The goalie from The Mighty Ducks and his complicated friendships

While Shaun Weiss continued his personal battle to overcome his challenges, one of the constants in his story has remained the involvement of his friends. After his 2017 arrest for meth possession, it was reported that the former Might Ducks star was apparently in possession of credit cards belonging to an unnamed friend, who refused to press charges. Later, TMZ reported that Marni Gairhan, a friend of Weiss, found "Shaun sleeping on her porch one night." However, when she tried to get him help, he reportedly distanced himself from her and his other friends.

When Weiss informed the world that he was entering rehab on Facebook, he made sure to apologize to those he'd "lied to, taken advantage of, manipulated for selfish gains, stolen from... then led the search to help you find what [he] stole." He added, "Relax, I'll buy you a new one. JUST KIDDING!" Yet, in spite of any issues he might have had with his friends, several of them have stood behind him. Gairhan, for example, reportedly set up a campaign to raise rehab money for Weiss back in 2018. Similarly, Drew Gallagher wrote in a 2020 Facebook post that he had been helping help Weiss for three years, citing "countless rehab and detox's and endless struggle to fight the broken system to get him help."

Shaun Weiss' life on the streets

Though Shaun Weiss' legal problems have made a lot of noise in headlines, his friends have made a concerted effort to bring awareness to the many challenges with which this former child star has struggled. According to a TMZ report in January 2020, Weiss, then 41, had been "dealing with several life-threatening problems, including diabetes, mental illness and drug addiction." At the time, Weiss was also reportedly homeless, with his property often stolen or vandalized on the streets.

"Anytime he manages to get his hands on some clothing or money, he gets attacked by other homeless people and robbed," the gossip rag reported, noting that sources claimed Weiss was in "survival mode" at the time. "Even worse, a friend bought him a van to live in ... and it was allegedly set on fire." Weiss' friends also reportedly explained that he needed "detox, rehab and medical aid including dental work ... because he's lost most of his teeth, which makes it difficult to eat."

"There's not a blameless Shaun Weiss here, he is definitely to blame for a lot of stupid s**t he does," friend Drew Gallagher told People. "But if you were to spend any time with him you would have a drastically more compassionate understanding of what he was about." He added, "He's just sick and everybody gives up on him."

Save Goldberg: the Shaun Weiss treatment fund

While some may view Shaun Weiss' January 2020 arrest as another defeat, many are looking at the positives of this difficult situation: The Mighty Ducks alum may now get the help he needs and deserves. As his friend, Drew Gallagher, noted on Facebook, "This arrest has saved his life as I couldn't find any place to take him without extensive waiting list." Even Lou Benninger, the homeowner who found Weiss in his garage, is hopeful. He counsels drug addicts in the same county jail that Weiss was booked into, and told Fox 40: "I call it a 'God incident.' ... He needed help and I can help him."

TMZ reports that another unlikely source — Lindsay Lohan's father, Michael — offered Weiss a $60,000 "scholarship" to cover expenses for a medically-assisted detox and therapy treatment program in Texas. At the time of this writing, it's uncertain whether or not the court will allow Weiss to travel out of California for treatment. However, having set up a GoFundMe campaign called Save Goldberg — Shaun Weiss Treatment Fund, Gallagher shared an update with fans in February 2020: "The court accepted [Weiss'] request for drug-court. Over the next two-to-three weeks they will assess him and formulate a mandatory treatment plan and reconvene with said plan on March 3rd." 

Those looking to help Weiss, who Gallagher said "is genuinely touched" by his fans' ongoing support, have been invited to send any financial support to this campaign.