In the spring of 2003, Milton Bradley, a switch-hitting outfielder for the Indians, met his future wife, Monique Williams, a community relations intern with the team. He was about to turn 25. She was 22.
This is an article from the April 13, 2015 issue
Over the next decade—while the erratic, belligerent Bradley was given a pass by many MLB teams, media members and the sports culture at large—he and Williams would be locked in a cycle of emotional and physical abuse, separation and reconciliation, police intervention and court conflict.
The Ray Rice elevator video, shocking as it was, captured only one moment. But a trove of public records shows the tragic extent of the Bradleys' violent relationship.
MILTON BRADLEY: I was out in centerfield shagging fly balls.... I saw a female walking down ... to the field, and I [asked] one of my teammates, "Who's that?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "Well ... I'm about to find out." And I ran in....
HARLAND BRAUN (Bradley's attorney): Let me ... jump ahead. Did you ever hit Monique?
BRAUN: You've yelled at her, correct?
BRADLEY: I've yelled at a lot of people.[superscript 5]
BRAUN: Mrs. Bradley, when you met Milton he was already in the big leagues?
MONIQUE BRADLEY: Yes....
BRAUN: [He] had a temper, correct? ...
MONIQUE: I had heard about it, but I hadn't seen it at that point.[superscript 5]
MICHELLE LIM (Los Angeles deputy city attorney): [Monique] was not a baseball groupie.... [Milton] had not become a famous baseball player yet.... They dated for two years before they got married.[superscript 5]
The Dodgers acquired troubled—but talented—Milton Bradley from the Cleveland Indians.... He was pulled from an exhibition game Wednesday by [Indians] manager Eric Wedge for failing to run out a pop fly that dropped, [and] barred from training camp the next day.... In February, Bradley was sentenced to three days in jail for driving away from police after being stopped for speeding. Last year, he had run-ins with Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca and Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi, and threw his helmet and bat in the direction of plate umpire Bruce Froemming. —Associated Press
The Dodgers need some jerks who can play. —Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times
CHARLENA RECTOR (Bradley's mother): The troubled relationship between Milton and Monique ... has been off and on since they started living together before marriage.... Milton has never been the aggressor in any argument I have witnessed. Instead, Monique gets drunk and provokes the arguments.[superscript 4]
Major League Baseball suspended Milton Bradley for four games Thursday in response to the Dodger centerfielder's on-field tirade during Tuesday's game.... "When we traded for Milton, we knew everything that came along with it," [general manager Paul] DePodesta said.... "I would take nine Milton Bradleys if I could get them."—L.A. Times
The off-season was filled with potentially life-changing experiences for Milton Bradley. He began counseling sessions to deal with anger management and other issues.... And, in a more positive vein, he got married in Las Vegas on Feb. 5. —The Orange County Register
Two days after the wedding Monique signed a prenuptial agreement.
MONIQUE BRADLEY: He made me sign it.... Mr. Bradley is very intimidating.... He just said, ... "You didn't think you were going to leave here without signing this." [superscript 5]
Over the next eight years, Milton Bradley would claim Monique's charges of abuse were efforts to increase the value of a potential divorce settlement. (Bradley did not respond to SI's request for comment.)
At 4:58 p.m. on July 11, Monique Bradley called 911 from a neighbor's house. Redondo Beach police made the second of three visits to the Bradleys' home that summer. Milton Bradley was no longer there. Officer Mike Snakenborg took Monique's statement:
Victim said her husband grabbed her right hand and pushed her hand against her mouth, causing her to hit herself.... Victim said her husband grabbed her cellphone from a bedroom table and threw it towards the wall. Victim said her cellphone broke into several parts.... Victim said she followed him into the hallway. Victim said her husband turned around and used his right forearm and pushed her against the wall. Victim stated his forearm was against her throat and she was having a difficult time breathing.... Victim said her husband went around the house and picked up all the cellphones, house phones, her car keys and credit cards and left.
MIKE SNAKENBORG: She was upset and crying.... She indicated to me that she was pregnant.... She had a small cut on the inside of her lip that was bleeding.[superscript 5]
MILTON BRADLEY: She had a busted lip.... She was threatening, "Oh, I'm going to call the police" ... and I'm like, "I'm not staying here because I didn't do nothing."
HARLAND BRAUN: Did you ever throw the phone at a wall or anything like that?
MILTON BRADLEY: I never threw the phone.[superscript 5]
MICHELLE LIM: Has [Mr. Bradley prevented you from calling the police] in the past?
MONIQUE BRADLEY: He'll take my cellphone and the house phones, and when he doesn't do that he says, "Call the police. You'll be dead by the time they get here anyway." [superscript 5]
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office ... declined to press charges in the July 11 incident because of "insufficient evidence." [Prosecutors' documents] read: "Victim was interviewed a [second] time and changed her stories." —L.A. Times
MICHELLE LIM: What kind of things would he yell at you?
MONIQUE BRADLEY: Tell me I was stupid, I was a bitch, a whore, slut, idiot.[superscript 5]
Milton Bradley is the Dodgers' nominee for this year's Roberto Clemente Award ... which recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship and community involvement, and the individual's contribution to his team. —Dodgers.com
On Dec. 11, Monique gave birth to the Bradleys' first child. Two days later, after two seasons in which Milton had verbal altercations with fans, reporters, teammates, his manager and umpires, he was traded to the A's.
MILTON BRADLEY: I don't know where the impressions about me come from.... I don't have a bad relationship with anyone. —The Sacramento Bee
On Jan. 10, Milton Bradley filed for divorce, yet he and Monique continued living together.
MONIQUE BRADLEY: [Milton] insisted I accompany him in February 2006 to Arizona for his spring training. [He] then insisted that I go and live with my parents in Cleveland, Ohio, where I have been residing since March 13.... He constantly threatens me by phone and in emails that if I do not do as he instructs and make myself available on a 24-hour basis, that he will stop these [monthly spouse and child support] deposits.[superscript 1]
On June 29, after a series of injuries and a disagreement about his return to the lineup, Bradley was traded to the Padres.
KEVIN TOWERS (San Diego general manager): He has somewhat of a checkered past. We certainly did our due diligence.... We felt it was worth it.
That fall Bradley was granted free agency by the Padres after he tore an ACL while arguing with an umpire. On Dec. 10, he signed with the Rangers.
JON DANIELS (Texas GM): We're not going to judge him on perception. —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
In July, during his best offensive season (.321 average, .436 OBP), Bradley played in his only All-Star Game. He and Monique were still married, and she was pregnant again.
MILTON BRADLEY: In the summer of 2008, she left.... She went back to Ohio and, you know, gave me an indication that she was possibly going to get an abortion....
HARLAND BRAUN: Did this turmoil affect your ability to play baseball?
BRADLEY: I never hit over .220 again.[superscript 5] [Next season he hit .257.]
That winter the Rangers did not re-sign Bradley despite his career year. He became a free agent again and bought a new, 7,500-square-foot house in Encino, Calif., for $3.7 million.
On Jan. 9, Bradley signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs.
His fiery attitude and, to a degree, his unpredictability is exactly what the Cubs need. —Dan Jiggetts, Chicago Sun-Times
In March, in Arizona for spring training, Monique gave birth to the Bradleys' second child. Her mother came to help with the baby, and Milton evicted her from the house.
MILTON BRADLEY: It's mine. You know, I bought a home. I can say who can come and go. I wouldn't want my mom staying with me, and I don't want her parents staying with me. So it's my prerogative. I bought the home, paid for it.[superscript 5]
Outfielder Milton Bradley's tumultuous season in Chicago ended when he was suspended for the final two weeks following comments he made [that] the Cubs were "not a positive environment." ... "There have been a lot of issues that we've lived with during the year," [Cubs GM Jim] Hendry said Sunday, "but the ... only real negativity here is his own production." —Cubs.com
MONIQUE BRADLEY: [Milton] had gone to Las Vegas ... and had purchased some presents for me.... I told him that I did not want his gifts and he became upset. He opened one of the boxes ... took out [a shoe] and hit me on the head with it.
MILTON BRADLEY: I never hit her with a shoe on the top of her head.[superscript 2]
MONIQUE BRADLEY: We separated in December ... only to reconcile shortly thereafter.[superscript 4]
On Dec. 18, the Cubs traded Bradley to the Mariners, his eighth team in 10 seasons.
JACK ZDURIENCIK (Seattle GM): It's a new day, new way for this guy.
MONIQUE BRADLEY: Milton stated to me that he was going to lunch with Ken Griffey Jr. I [joked] ... that maybe he could pick him up in his new overpriced car [a Rolls-Royce Phantom]. Milton ... became furious with me.... He yelled that he hated me, that I made him sick and that he wanted me to leave. He got very close to my face in a menacing manner [Milton outweighed Monique by about 100 pounds].... He then grabbed my laptop computer and smashed it on the floor.... He then grabbed my cellular phone and left. I was extremely frightened by his anger and was shaking.... The police met me at our residence.... That night I checked into a hotel with our children.... I believe that Milton's constant tirades, his anger and his unreasonableness are causing emotional harm to our young children.... I am afraid that Milton will actually take my life.... [He] has threatened to kill me before he lets me leave him with his money.... Milton makes these comments to me in front of our minor children.... Usually after he yells at me or calls me names he will send me a message that he is sorry, that he needs me and he will ask me not to leave. I have always forgiven him in the past.... Living under this pressure is causing me to have a great deal of stress and anxiety.[superscript 2]
MILTON BRADLEY: None [of our arguments] have escalated into a physical encounter.... Her claim that I have cursed her in front of our children is also untrue.[superscript 2]
MICHELLE LIM: You and Mr. Bradley continued to have a relationship.... Explain that to me.
MONIQUE BRADLEY: I knew I needed a divorce. It wasn't healthy. It wasn't right. But I didn't get married to get divorced, and I've tried to work on it.[superscript 5]
On Jan. 9, the Bradleys argued at a Long Beach restaurant. Milton left Monique there and made the 40-mile drive home without her. Monique called the police and alleged that Milton pushed her in the chest.
MILTON BRADLEY: About 30 minutes later, a knock on the door.... [A policeman said], "Did you hit her?" I go, "No." ... He goes, "Do you want to let her back in the house?" I said, "If she knows how to act." ... [I told Monique] "Quit calling the f------ police for nothing," right in front of the cop.... So the cop left....[superscript 5]
MILTON BRADLEY: I do everything I can to keep the peace in our relationship.[superscript 2]
MICHELLE LIM: Let's talk about you not being a good husband. Describe why you're not a good husband.
BRADLEY: Because I don't have a good wife.
LIM: So it's her fault you're not a good husband?
BRADLEY: You get what you give. It's one of my favorite quotes....
LIM: You've called her dumb bitch?
BRADLEY: Yes.[superscript 5]
By December the Bradleys had dismissed their 2009--10 divorce proceedings. On Dec. 31 they were in New York City to celebrate the New Year.
MONIQUE BRADLEY: Mr. Bradley got in late ... and he started arguing. He was already in a bad mood. And he took a hotel glass and threw it at me. It broke on my head.... I was in shock, and blood was just coming down my face.... I was trying to clean it up. He wouldn't let me go to the doctor. And he told me I was using too many towels ... to clean up the blood.... I guess somebody called [hotel security] because they heard the disturbance, and [Milton] looked me in my eye and he held me and he's like, "Don't throw away everything we have," like this is his future, his job. So I protected him even though I'm standing there in blood and he didn't even care.
HARLAND BRAUN (to Milton Bradley): Did anything like that happen?
MILTON BRADLEY: No.[superscript 5]
Before attending a Lakers game on Jan. 17, Milton became frustrated when he could not find an expensive piece of jewelry. He blamed workers in the house and berated Monique for insufficiently monitoring them. After he left, Monique took the children to a hotel. Milton returned to an empty house. He called and texted Monique, demanding that she bring the kids to him. She did not. The next day: VICT [Monique] was taking children to school, SUSP [Milton] followed VICT, pulled up beside her and stated, 'Bring back my kids or I'm gonna f------ kill you,' as he motioned as if slicing his neck with his hand. —Report by LAPD officer T. Houser
MILTON BRADLEY: I said, you know, "Cut this s--- out. Take my f------ kids to school." ... I went like this [slashing his finger across his throat] which means, "Cut that out." Universally everybody knows that.[superscript 5]
While following Monique, Milton called her mother, Judith, in Ohio, demanding that she convince Monique to bring the kids home.
JUDITH WILLIAMS (supporting Monique's request for a restraining order that month): He told me that if Monique did not return his children that he would "kill her." I said to him that "you do not mean that, you are just upset." He said, "Yes, I do." ...
MILTON BRADLEY: I [actually] said, "I don't really care if she kills herself, but she's got my kids in the car and she's going to kill them." [superscript 5]
Milton was arrested by the LAPD on Jan. 18 for making threats against a woman. Monique received an emergency protective order. Milton's bail was set at $50,000, and he was released that afternoon.
HARLAND BRAUN: Monique Bradley ... understands how devoted [Milton] is to his children, particularly because he was raised without a father.... Whenever she gets mad at Milton for something, she decides to take off with the kids.[superscript 5]
On Jan. 25, the restraining order expired, and Monique let Milton back into the family residence.
MONIQUE BRADLEY: Because I was still fearful for my physical safety, I hired a security guard to guard our home while Milton was present.[superscript 3]
In February Milton leaves for spring training with the Mariners.
MONIQUE BRADLEY: Although we have tried ... to work out our relationship ... our marriage cannot be saved.... I am moving forward with our dissolution proceedings.[superscript 3]
On April 12, the Bradleys had this virtually one-sided exchange of text messages.
MILTON: [Your lawyer] will get u killed. Tell the police. U f--- like a whore does u get whore treatment u deserve what u will get trust that.
MILTON: Play Russian roulette with your life and our children just proves my point.
MILTON: U have no power and never will.
MILTON: Bet u have a nice funeral....
MILTON: Die then. Makes me none.
MONIQUE: Continue. It just moves you closer ... to not having me.
MILTON: And u not having life.
On May 16, Milton Bradley was released by the Mariners, ending his major league career at age 33. He played 12 seasons for eight teams, batting .271 and earning $48,222,300. He began living full-time at the family residence in Encino. On June 3 the Bradley vs. Bradley marriage dissolution case was dismissed. Milton and Monique tried again to reconcile. But on Sept. 27 Monique asked Milton where he was the night before—he came home very late—and, she said, he blew up and grabbed a baseball bat.
MONIQUE BRADLEY: He was pacing, he was sweating.... It was like a batting stance. He didn't swing it at me, though....
MICHELLE LIM: Did he say anything to you?
MONIQUE: He said a lot. "I hate you. I'll kill you. You're nothing but a bitch."... [He walked away and put the bat down, but Monique could not call the police.] He took the phones and made me sit there ... keys, phones, everything.[superscript 5]
On Sept. 30, Milton and Monique filed individually for divorce. In November, according to Milton, his agent arranged for him to have dinner with Monique—whom he was barred from seeing—and their kids. Monique then canceled, he said, and he found out that her parents were at the Encino residence to help care for her and the children. Milton sent a series of texts to Monique's father, Roger Williams.
MILTON BRADLEY: And u mfs need to get the f--- out of my house. And that goes for your ho of a daughter, too. Try me.
BRADLEY: I'm gonna embarrass your whole family when I prove what a groupie ho your daughter is.
Then he sent Roger Williams a video of himself and Monique having sex.
BRADLEY: That's your daughter getting f----- ... and there's more where that came from.
MONIQUE BRADLEY (requesting another restraining order, on Nov. 16): [Milton] has the access code to our ADT security system.... [He] admits in his text messages that he knows when the security guard that I hired to protect me comes and goes.... I am concerned that [Milton] may possess a firearm.... [He] picked up a magazine entitled 2012 Buyers Guide Gun Annual and turned to a page of a gun and said to me, "This is the gun that I'm going to kill you with." [superscript 4]
In April the Bradleys vacation together with the children in Hawaii.
MICHELLE LIM: And why is it ... that you would [travel with him]?
MONIQUE BRADLEY: When we got along it was the best.... I just always wanted to believe there was a better person.[superscript 5]
On Oct. 23, Monique suffered a black eye and bruising to the chest. She did not call the police.
MILTON BRADLEY: [Monique] walked into a door ... and fell due to her heavy drinking, or because of her medical condition [Monique had recently begun suffering from chronic fatigue, abdominal pain and severe bloating, which caused her to bruise easily; doctors had been unable to explain her symptoms].... The first thing she does in the morning is to start drinking wine. She continues to drink all day, every day.[superscript 4] [Sylvia Rinacchi, the Bradleys' nanny from 2009 to '12, testified at trial that she never saw Monique drunk or smelled alcohol on her breath.]
HARLAND BRAUN: What is your opinion of her testimony that ... you hit her?
BRADLEY: A sad story. [He would later say, "I didn't see an issue that she drank a lot."][superscript 5]
On Nov. 4, before attending a Lakers game, Milton Bradley smoked marijuana outside his home with a friend.
MONIQUE BRADLEY: I opened the door and said, "... Go somewhere else and do that." And he said I humiliated him, and he charged at me and he strangled me.... He lifted me by my throat ... and threw me against this wall.... He carried me from here to here by my throat for maybe five or six seconds, and then he just kind of dropped me.[superscript 5]
MILTON BRADLEY (in a Nov. 28 text message to Monique about paying for her security system): U must have lost oxygen to the brain while getting choked out if u think [I'm] paying for your bogus security. Get the f--- out bitch!!!
Milton Bradley has been charged with abusing his estranged wife and faces up to 13 years in jail if convicted, city prosecutors announced Friday. Bradley, 34, was charged on [Jan. 10] with 13 misdemeanor counts of assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism and dissuading a witness from making a report. —AP
On May 10, the trial of The State of California v. Milton Obelle Bradley began, with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas Rubinson presiding. Monique testified while suffering from painful, undiagnosed abdominal swelling that made her appear pregnant.
HARLAND BRAUN: Do you think that if you convict Mr. Bradley of spousal abuse ... would that assist you in [the divorce case]?
MONIQUE BRADLEY: No. I'm just speaking my truth. These are two different things. How he treated me and what I'm doing here today is my own therapy. It has nothing to do with money.[superscript 5]
SANDRA BACA (domestic violence expert): [For] women with upper-class [lifestyles], it's not that easy to leave [abusive spouses] because they don't always have the purse strings.... Then they want to talk about it with their peers and their peers don't want to hear [it].... They become cut off from their support systems.[superscript 5]
On June 3, after a 12-day trial and two days of deliberation, the jury convicted Milton Bradley on nine counts, including inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, assault with a deadly weapon (a baseball bat), criminal threats and brandishing a deadly weapon. Because all are misdemeanors, he was allowed to make bail. Meanwhile, Monique's health worsened.
MONIQUE BRADLEY: Milton has even blocked my ability to submit my medical bills for any potential reimbursement because he refuses to provide me with the information for processing the claims.[superscript 4]
On July 2, Judge Rubinson sentenced Milton Bradley to 32 months in prison and 52 weeks of domestic violence and anger-management classes. He was released on $250,000 bail and remains free pending appeal.
JUDGE RUBINSON: Mr. Bradley ... created and maintained an atmosphere of fear and of dread and of humiliation.... Monique Bradley walked around on eggshells in this house, and I imagine that their young and impressionable [children] ... did so as well.
On Sept. 14, Monique Bradley died at Encino Hospital Medical Center. A death certificate dated Oct. 10 lists the causes as cryptogenic (i.e., of unknown origin) cirrhosis of the liver, hemorrhagic shock and cardiorespiratory arrest. She was 33.
On Jan. 21, a Los Angeles appellate court rejected Bradley's appeal of his criminal conviction. Free pending a second appeal, Bradley has not spent a day in jail. He has sole custody of his children.
1. DIVORCE CASE, 2006
2. DIVORCE CASE, 2009--10
3. DIVORCE CASE, Feb.-June 2011
4. DIVORCE CASE, begun Sept. 2011
5. 2013 TRIAL, CALIFORNIA VS. MILTON O. BRADLEY