2. Todd Marinovich
His mother set high-school swimming records in the butterfly. His father was a captain of the football team at Southern California when they won a national championship during the 1962 season. Todd Marinovich had the athletic genes to become something special, and his father was set on making that happen.
Marv Marinovich took extreme measures in trying to develop his son into the ultimate athlete. Todd wasn’t allowed junk food as a kid and as a baby was on a strict diet of vegetables, fruits, and raw milk.
Todd became the first QB to start as a freshman at the perennial high school football powerhouse, Mater Dei High School, and the national media began to take notice. He was named a Parade Magazine All-American his senior year, California Magazine ran a column “Robo QB: The Making of the Perfect Athlete," and when he chose to attend USC, Sports Illustrated's Douglas S. Looney wrote an article, “Bred to be a Superstar." Marinovich wasn’t just going to be the next big thing, but the best quarterback to ever play the game.
But his overbearing father and training regimen turned Marinovich to drugs that would eventually waste all that potential. At USC he became the first freshman QB to be named to the All-Pac-10 team. In just his sophomore season, he was already being hailed as a Heisman Trophy candidate, but he was suspended by his coach for skipping classes and after that year, he was arrested for cocaine possession. Marinovich left for the NFL, where his drug addictions continued, eventually ending his career after his third failed drug test.
For more on his incredible tale, read Mike Sager’s piece in Esquire, "Todd Marinovich: The Man Who Never Was".