1986: Before he was known for hanging Vanilla Ice off of a balcony (more on that later), Knight was actually a very talented college football player. In 1983, he received a football scholarship out of high school, and in 1985, he transferred to UNLV to continue his balling career, even scoring a Rookie of the Year title. It was in his senior year, though, that he began to exhibit the kind of criminal mindset that would characterize his life. In the book Labyrinth, Knight’s college years are defined by a drug-dealing side gig.
1987: This is where the lengthy rap sheet begins. In October, Suge’s future wife, Sharitha Golden, placed a restraining order against him. Knight violated the order by grabbing Golden by the hair and cutting off her ponytail, resulting in his first arrest. Just two weeks later, Suge is arrested again, this time for shooting a man in the leg and wrist as he attempted to steal his Nissan Maxima. Knight’s decorated football career helped him out of the jam, and his charges were miraculously lowered to misdemeanors, carrying a $1,000 fine and three years probation. Yes, you read that right: He shot a man twice, stole his vehicle, and only got a $1,000 fine in return.
“It went to a misdemeanor,” he told the Washington Post in 2007. “I shot him with his own gun.”
1988: Suge is arrested for assaulting a man at L.A. International Airport.
1990: This was a busy year for the soon-to-be Death Row record executive. In Las Vegas, Suge uses a loaded pistol to break some poor guy’s jaw, resulting in another slap on the wrist of $9,000, and a two-year suspended sentence. He also pleads guilty to two cases of battery — in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, respectively — and pleads guilty to a disturbing the peace charge in Van Nuys. The result of these charges? More probation.