If you’re unfamiliar with the stories of athletes who went AWOL, buckle up for tales that range from the bizarre to the heartbreaking.
Athlete disappearances range from a player not showing up for practice or a game (then being found a few hours later) to athletes leaving home and being brutally murdered in crimes that remain unsolved.
This isn’t to make light of anyone’s death. On the contrary, in an unsolved crime, it’s important to keep the public engaged with the story as “somebody knows something.” And with respect to someone like Cedric Ceballos claiming he was with family and being spotted with two women, and the similar, well that’s ridiculousness we ought to call attention to.
So, let’s take a look at 10 athletes who went AWOL.
D-Rose disappeared during his contentious 2017 season with the New York Knicks. Rose was nowhere to be found for a January 9 game against the New Orleans Pelicans. The team later found out he went home to Chicago—without letting them know. He was fined for his disappearing act.
Cullen Finnerty was the winningest quarterback in NCAA football history during his tenure at Grand Valley State. He went undrafted, bounced around between a few teams, and ultimately never achieved any real football success.
Finnerty went on a solo fishing trip to Michigan when he placed a call to his wife, saying two men were chasing him on the river. When he didn’t come home, his family went looking for him. They found his body two days later, and Finnerty’s cause of death remains unknown.
Center for the Oakland Raiders, Barrett Robbins went missing the day before Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego. The team found out he’d been in Tijuana, Mexico. He’d been partying all night and hadn’t taken his anti-depressants. Robbins eventually resurfaced, but the team left him off the roster for the Super Bowl.
So-called “MacFearsome,” Canadian hockey player Duncan Macpherson never materialized as an NHL talent. After washing out of the league, he was slated to be a player-coach for a team in Scotland. On his way over, he stopped in Austria for a ski trip. He never showed up in Scotland, and it was later determined that he’d died somewhere on the slopes after breaking his leg…and getting run over by snow-grooming equipment.
AKA Joel Ron McKelvey
Texas defensive back Joel Ron McKelvey went missing the day before the 1995 Sugar Bowl. This disappearance wasn’t totally unexpected, however. The day prior, a newspaper revealed that the so-called Joel Ron McKelvey was actually 30 years old and not named Joel Ron McKelvey. Rather, his name was Ron Weaver. He later pleaded guilty to using a fraudulent Social Security number.
Russian boxer Sergei Kobozev disappeared shortly after his first defeat. Two weeks after being beaten, nobody knew where the pugilist was. 14 years later his skeletal remains were found in the backyard of a Russian mobster. It seems Kobozev, who also worked as a bouncer, pissed off the wrong person. He was shot, taken to Kobozev’s house, and his neck was broken.
Wilson Ramos, a catcher in the major league in 2011, was kidnapped while visiting his home in Venezuela. Gunmen took him from his house, and no one knew where the ballplayer was for two days. A manhunt followed, leading to a shootout. Fortunately, Ramos made it out unscathed.
Lorenzen Wright played 13 years in the NBA. Solid and workmanlike, Wright was a reliable role player. A few years after retirement, though, he disappeared in strange circumstances. He left his ex-wife’s house with an unidentified man saying he was going to “flip” something for $110,000. When he wasn’t seen for four days, police eventually found his body in the woods. His jewelry wasn’t touched, suggesting the thieves motive wasn’t robbery.
Bison Dele, born Brian Williams, played seven years in the NBA. After his retirement, Dele, his brother, and a few others set sail for Hawaii. Dele, who had been keeping in contact with his family back on land, went radio silent. He was never seen again, although his brother was caught using Dele’s passport later, leading to speculation that he killed his NBA star brother and tossed his body overboard.
Back in 1996, Cedric Ceballos, forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, was nowhere to be found on the team flight. Not only did he never materialize on the fight, but the Lakers couldn’t find Ceballos for five days. He told the team he was experiencing family problems. However, he was spotted at an Arizona resort in the company of two women. He was fined and docked two games pay, taking more than $50 grand out of his fun-loving pockets.