Here is a roundup of SI.com's 25 most popular stories of the year.
For almost five days in the fall of 2014, the most decorated Olympian in history lay curled in a fetal position in his Baltimore home, crestfallen and fearful, embarrassed at his behavior and uncertain of his future. Now, after rehabilitation, the best may lie ahead for Michael Phelps. By Tim Layden.
Former Major League Baseball outfielder Milton Bradley was known for his temper on the field. But trial transcripts and divorce records suggest no one endured Bradley's dark side worse than his wife. By Michael McKnight with Jon Wertheim.
Former NBA player Lorenzen Wright was found dead in 2010 with multiple gunshot wounds. To this day, his murder remains unsolved. Who killed the 34-year-old—and why? By Jon Wertheim.
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the publication of Friday Night Lights, author H.G. Bissinger felt compelled to return. Twenty-five years ago, he went in search of the Friday night lights. Now, during a week in April in Texas, he went searching for those who played under them. By H.G. Bissinger.
For so long, horse racing had been stuck on the same, yellowed page, so many times the Triple Crown had seemed at hand and so many times cruel reality dropped a hammer on old Belmont Park. At a few minutes before seven on a Saturday night in May, it was a bay colt named American Pharoah who finally set everybody free. By Tim Layden.
Football forced former San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick into a lifestyle of competitive eating. When he stopped playing, the pounds melted away—and so did part of his identity. By Emily Kaplan.
In his quest to locate his biological parents, adoptee Aaron Levi made a startling discovery—his father may have been Wilt Chamberlain, one of the most transcendent athletes of the 20th century. By Gary M. Pomerantz.
Ed Werder has become a fixture in the NFL while covering stories for ESPN. The news away from his job—concerning his daughter and her husband—has been much tougher to handle. By Jenny Vrentas.
On the eve of the Super Bowl 13 years ago, Oakland Raiders center Barret Robbins went missing. This is his story. By Phil Taylor.
"I was 42, 6'1'', with small hands—and one huge obsession: learning to dunk. I had no idea what I was in for." By Michael McKnight.
Serena Williams not only dominated her sport in 2015 like few athletes ever have, but she continued to grow off the court, searching, speaking out and, most important, healing an old wound. By S.L. Price.
The legendary quarterback is finally content in retirement. But as he said during an interview for Sports Illustrated's annual "Where Are They Now?" issue, "I think I could play." Here is a look inside Favre's retired life in Mississippi. By Greg Bishop.
Most still think of the rebranded Legends Football League as the Lingerie Football League. Chances are you know next to nothing about the players who are still showing all that skin. By Emily Kaplan.
Just 18 when he turned pro, Mike Tyson was boxing’s ultimate destroyer. He remains its ultimate survivor. By Tim Layden.
Nick Young has become one of the NBA's most beloved characters since he started playing for the Lakers. Find out what drives Young and his alter ego, Swaggy P. By Lee Jenkins.
Thirty years after the Knicks landed Georgetown big man Patrick Ewing amid rumors of conspiracy, the first draft lottery remains a seminal—and much dissected—moment in NBA history. By Chris Ballard.
The last steps of Troy Causey's life led him out of the south Dallas home, where he'd been staying, and onto the asphalt to fight his roommate, Johnathan Turner. What happened next turned relatives into rivals and ruined reputations. And it has sent one family with a crushing loss on a quest for a justice it may never know. By David Gardner.
Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals allowed The MMQB inside the installation of the game plan for their Week 8 meeting with the Browns. How does a QB absorb and apply so much complexity—nearly 200 plays, plus all of their possible permutations and adjustments—in less than a week? Commitment and confidence help—and so does virtual reality. By Peter King.
They called Lamar Odom “The Package” because he contained so many gifts. Strip away the size and the handle, the addictions and the demons, and you are left with the sweetest of souls. By Lee Jenkins.
Hakan Andersson's life is anything but stable. But the years he has spent traveling the world, in cold ice rinks away from his family, scouting talent that can make it into the NHL, have helped the Detroit Red Wings achieve consistent success for over two decades. By Michael Farber.
Three years ago, Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in New York Mets history—but he needed 134 pitches to do so and wasn't the same again. Did manager Terry Collins' decision to keep Santana in the game cost the pitcher his career? By Phil Taylor.
Twenty years ago, an unlikely group of Americans visited North Korea against all advice as invited guests of the government: a troupe of major professional wrestlers, a pair of wrestling officials, Muhammad Ali’s photographer and Ali himself. This is their story. By Dan Greene.
This is the story behind Lloyd's journey from Delran, N.J., to global stardom, a rise that culminated with her incredible World Cup final performance. By Grant Wahl.
From the beginning of his time in minor league baseball, teammates and opponents noticed something strange about 21-year-old Rocky Perone. As it turned out, there was a lot more to the Australian than what met the eye. By Chris Ballard.
The Warriors won their first NBA title in four decades on a Tuesday night in June. Golden State capped its championship run with an all-night celebration that was 40 years in the making. By Lee Jenkins.
More recommended reads
The MMQB spent four frantic days—and a few sleepless nights—with a top broker as he worked the wildest and most lucrative Super Bowl ticket market ever. By Robert Klemko.
A long, strange drive with Pete Rose from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. By Tom Verducci.
The story of Patty Mills. By Alexander Wolff.
The story of Katy Perry's 26-foot long, 16-foot high, 1,600-pound lion that kicked off one of the most celebrated halftime shows in recent Super Bowl history. By Rohan Nadkarni.
Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and changed lives forever. After an interrupted season, Tulane football helped the city heal. By Joan Niesen.
Mookie Blaylock was a well-liked NBA player for 13 years. But his battles with addiction led to a tough life after basketball, and ultimately, a deadly car accident. By Greg Hanlon.
Jace Malek's incredible fight to keep pursuing a football dream. By Zac Ellis.
An exclusive look at the negotiations between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao that finally led to May's bout. By Chris Mannix and Greg Bishop.
How Carlton Fisk's home run altered baseball—and TV—forever. By Tom Verducci.
James Harden, the NBA's unlikely MVP. By Lee Jenkins.
Now a general manager, John Elway is still motivated by a strong competitive spirit—even if all he can do on Sundays is watch. By S.L. Price.
Don Denkinger's errant ruling changed the course of the 1985 World Series and has been a part of his life ever since. By Dan Greene.
During the 1988 Super Bowl, a lopsided 42-10 victory for the Washington Redskins, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch had an idea that would forever change Super Bowl commercials. By Chris Nashawaty.
From losing his father to living in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the midst of a bloody African war to playing basketball abroad in China, Emmanuel Mudiay's journey to the NBA hasn't been easy. But now, with his brothers by his side, he's ready for the next step. By Chris Mannix.