What Happens to Entertainers Who Do What Chris Brown Did?

The former Olympian's comeback was all but derailed. She later resurfaced—briefly—in professional boxing.


Professional boxer Mike Tyson and his actress wife Robin Givens divorced in 1989 after just one year of marriage. Givens had admitted in a televised interview in late 1988—with Tyson by her side—that she was frightened of her husband, telling Barbara Walters that "he shakes, he pushes, he swings." Days later, police were summoned to their New Jersey home after Tyson hurled furniture out the window and his wife and her mother fled.

Tyson's 1989 domestic dispute was followed by something of a personal and professional implosion, though it's unclear whether Tyson's marital troubles were the cause or a symptom of the problem. A year later, Tyson lost his world heavyweight boxing title in an upset, and was sentenced to a decade in prison on a rape charge. Later in the 1990s, however, Tyson returned, somewhat successfully, to pro boxing.


In 2011, Mel Gibson was sentenced to three years of probation and a community service requirement after his ex-girlfriend, Russian musician Oksana Grigorieva, came forward with allegations that Gibson had broken two of her teeth and given her a black eye in early 2010. She dropped the charges in 2011, but one of several leaked audio tapes of Gibson's tirades also included an admission that he had punched Grigorieva while she was holding their daughter.

Amid a flurry of anti-Semitic and misogynistic comments coming from Gibson's public appearances and leaked tapes, an assault accusation certainly didn't help the actor's already-flailing career. His next stints in front of the camera—in 2010's Edge of Darkness and 2011's Jodie Foster-directed The Beaver—were massive box-office failures, and would-be co-stars pulled the plug on their slated collaborative projects with Gibson.


In 1998, the then-35-year-old Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee was arrested in Malibu, California, for kicking his wife, actress and Playboy model Pamela Anderson Lee, while the couple's infant son was in her arms. Anderson Lee filed for divorce, and Lee was sentenced to six months in jail. He served four months. Anderson and Lee would then reunite a decade later.

Lee, during Mötley Crüe's early-2000s hiatus, enjoyed a moderately successful career as a solo artist and a collaborator with other artists. His career hit an upswing again in 2005, when his greatest-hits album with Mötley Crüe, Red White & Crüe, went platinum and their subsequent reunion tour sold out arenas from coast to coast.


In 1989, NFL star-turned-actor O.J. Simpson was arrested on a charge of spousal battery involving his estranged wife Nicole Brown; the encounter left Brown with visible bruises on her face. They divorced in 1992.

Simpson's career as a sports commentator and actor thrived despite his troubled personal life: He appeared regularly on Monday Night Football broadcasts and appeared as the lovable Officer Nordberg in all three films of the successful Naked Gun crime-comedy trilogy. It wasn't until his high-profile murder investigation in 1995 that Simpson's fame turned to infamy.


Sean Penn was charged with felony domestic assault during his four-year marriage to to Madonna. He allegedly struck her in the head with a baseball bat during a bizarre nine-hour standoff—an encounter that sent her to the hospital for X-rays. In 1989, Madonna dropped criminal charges of assault against Penn, and the couple divorced later that year. Stories of further abuse surfaced later.

Penn has been nominated for five Academy Awards since then, with two Best Actor wins.

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Ashley Fetters is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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