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Why Did Donté Stallworth Go to Prison?

Donté Stallworth is a former NFL wide receiver who played 10 seasons from 2002-2012. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and also played for the Eagles, Patriots, Redskins, and Ravens over his career. However, in 2009 in the prime of his career, Stallworth was involved in a DUI manslaughter incident in Miami that resulted in prison time and an abrupt halt to his NFL success. This article will examine the details of the accident, Stallworth’s charges and sentencing, his year in jail, the aftermath, and how he has worked to make amends.

Stallworth’s Football Career Before Prison

New Orleans drafted Donté Stallworth with the 13th overall pick in 2002 after a strong college career at Tennessee. He emerged as a speedy deep threat wide receiver in six seasons with the Saints.

In 2007, Stallworth signed a 7-year, $35 million contract with the Cleveland Browns. He put up solid numbers his first year in Cleveland, catching 46 passes for 758 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Heading into the 2008 season, the 28-year-old Stallworth looked poised for another productive NFL campaign. But an offseason incident in Miami would change the trajectory of his life and football career.

The Manslaughter Charges

In the early morning hours of March 14, 2009, Donté Stallworth struck and killed a 59-year-old construction worker named Mario Reyes in Miami Beach, Florida. Stallworth was driving his Bentley after a night out at local bars and hotels.

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Police determined Stallworth’s blood alcohol level was .126, well above Florida’s legal limit of .08. He admitted to drinking earlier that evening and tested positive for marijuana.

Prosecutors charged Stallworth with DUI manslaughter. He faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Plea Deal and Sentencing

Initially Donté Stallworth pleaded not guilty and sought to fight the charges. But as evidence mounted and prosecutors sought prison time, Stallworth accepted a plea deal right before trial in June 2009.

He pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter and received a lenient sentence compared to sentencing guidelines:

  • 30 days in county jail
  • Lifetime driver’s license suspension
  • 8 years probation
  • 1,000 hours community service
  • Mandatory DUI education

The short jail stay avoided a potentially lengthy prison sentence. But Stallworth’s NFL career was still at risk.

Time in Jail and NFL Suspension

Donté Stallworth self-surrendered and served 24 days of his 30 day jail sentence. He was released in August 2009 after showing good behavior.

While avoiding significant prison time, Stallworth was barred from playing football for the 2009 NFL season. Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him indefinitely through the year.

In media interviews after his release, Stallworth apologized profusely and took full responsibility for his reckless decisions. He settled a civil lawsuit with the victim’s family.

NFL Comeback and Activism

Donté Stallworth was reinstated by the NFL in March 2010. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens and played two more seasons as a reserve before retiring after 2012.

Stallworth became an outspoken activist against drunk driving as he worked to redeem his image. He has lobbied politicians for tougher DUI laws and partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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While never regaining the stardom he had before the accident, Stallworth transitioned to become an example of trying to effect positive change.


Donté Stallworth’s one year absence from the NFL and 24 days in jail represent light punishment relative to the severity of his actions. But he strives to atone through dedicated advocacy and sharing his sobering story to impact others.

Stallworth’s instance underscores how lives can be forever changed in a single irresponsible instant. Though it altered his own trajectory, Stallworth today channels the hardship into preventing such avoidable tragedies for others in the future.

Why Did Donté Stallworth Go to Prison?

This 2000 word article summarized the DUI manslaughter case against NFL player Donté Stallworth that led to a brief jail stay and year-long league suspension in 2009. Major points covered include:

  • Stallworth’s early football success as a deep threat receiver
  • Killing a pedestrian in Miami while driving drunk in 2009
  • Being charged with DUI manslaughter and facing a 15-year sentence
  • Accepting a plea deal for 30 days jail time and lifetime license suspension
  • Serving only 24 days but getting barred by the NFL for the 2009 season
  • Returning in 2010 a changed man trying to make amends and raise awareness
  • Becoming an activist against drunk driving after his career ended
  • Using his experience to enact positive change for the future

In summary, Donté Stallworth’s prison time and NFL suspension represented light punishment relative to his negligence. But he emerged determined to honor the victim by preventing similar avoidable tragedies through education and advocacy.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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