Stories of athletes who overcome obstacles, exhibit sportsmanship and defy the odds to achieve success

November 10, 2014

Beyond the scores and stats, sports also give rise to stories of athletes who overcome obstacles, exhibit sportsmanship and defy the odds to achieve success. Celebrate the uplifting stories and take a deeper look into the inspiring lives of athletes with Sports Illustrated's Inspirations.


The Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph is going above and beyond for local kids. By Jake Fischer


Former UNI basketball team doctor Dan Murphy has been running a free clinic in East Timor, one of the poorest nations in the world for nearly 20 years. By David Gardner


Twenty-seven million Americans were inspired by one badass team. By Grant Wahl


Providence's Kris Dunn is the nation's best point guard, but you know that. But do you know the haunting path the junior player of the year candidate took to get here? By Dan Greene


Texas safety Freddie Steinmark’s battle against cancer continues to have an impact 44 years after his death. By Ken Rodriguez


Florida State's Javien Elliott refused to take no for an answer in his quest to don a Seminoles' uniform. By Lindsay Schnell


College softball star Bella Picard vows to return to the field after an awful accident. By Kayla Lombardo


Texas State baseball coach Ty Montgomery's cancer fight brought him closer to his family than ever. By Ken Rodriguez


Virginia basketball star Malcolm Brogdon refuses to let basketball alone define him. By David Gardner


A rare eye condition hasn't slowed down Tripp Gulledge, a member of the Auburn marching band. By CJ Holmes


The Haiti earthquake put Skal Labissiere on a path to basketball superstardom. By Luke Winn


As 8-year-old Jay Ryon battles cancer, the Florida Gators support their bravest fan. By Gabriel Baumgaertner


As a son learns to walk again after a near-death accident, a father begins to run. By David Gardner


A brush with death has given Chris Bosh a different outlook on life. By Lee Jenkins


Tina Charles has always searched for problems to solve, and people to help, both on the basketball court and off of it. By David Gardner


Evelyn Jones is the oldest person to ever throw out a first pitch. Hers is a story about baseball. And a story about hope. By Greg Bishop


One of the strangest tales of the 2014 college football season: the tale of the quarterback who could not throw ... and how he rediscovered his mojo. By Albert Chen


Expelled from college, Hank Goff grew up by joining the Marines. When the "invisible wounds" of war put him on a downward spiral, Goff rediscovered joy in life on the football field. By Austin Murphy


A burgeoning superstar and the Indians' best hitter, Michael Brantley didn't get there by himself. Instead, he's had the help of his father Mickey, a former big leaguer and hitting coach, in building his smooth swing. By Ben Reiter


Curt Schilling’s life has been anything but quiet since he threw his last major league pitch. Yet, for as much as Schilling remained in the public eye, nothing got him as much attention as the events of early March. That was when Curt Schilling, Father, took center stage in defending his daughter against vicous social media attacks. By Jeff Bradley


Mike Emrick is hockey's most well-known play-by-play announcer with a vocabulary rivaled by none. Long before he was known as Doc, however, he was trying to emulate the style of Bob Chase of the minor league Fort Wayne Komets. At 89 yeard old, Chase's career is storied, but it's also still going. By Richard Deitsch


The odds seemed stacked against Shannon Boxx making the U.S. national team roster for the 2015 Women's World Cup. After all she's 37 and coming off of both the birth of her first child and knee surgery. But Boxx knows how to fight the odds. She's been doing it since she was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome in 2002. By Tom Taylor


Kevin Durant's impassioned "You the real MVP" speech directed to his mother last year is far from the NBA's only bond between mother and son. Go inside those bonds with the stories of Kawhi Leonard, DeAndre Jordan, Draymond Green, Kyle Korver and DeMar DeRozan and the mothers who sacrificed, supported and provided for them. By Lee Jenkins


The term "soccer mom" has certainly evolved. This is the story of World Cup-bound U.S. women's national team players Christie Rampone, Shannon Boxx and Amy Rodriguez, how they've grown their families while maintaining their world-class talents and how they'll combine Mother's Day with gameday in 2015. By Jeff Bradley


Former Auburn receiver Sammie Coates lost his father in November 2003, when Sammie was 10 and in fifth grade. Coates, 21, wants to tell kids, It's going to be O.K. After his father died, he didn't have anyone to offer such assurance. He wants those lost souls to know that they can build their own lives, piece by piece. They need only follow his advice. By Andy Staples


After the death of his father and a strained relationship with his mother, Baylor running back Silas Nacita overcame tremendous hardship to live his dream and find happiness at home. By Ken Rodriguez


Both during and following his four decades in the MLB, former pitcher Jamie Moyer has devoted his life to helping children deal with grief and distress through his foundation and camps. By Jeff Bradley


After suffering three ACL injuries and missing his first three seasons of college football, University of Washington running back Deontae Cooper is still working towards his NFL dreams and an advanced degree. By Greg Bishop


Former athletes Pete Frates and Steve Gleason have led the way in the fight for a cure for ALS and have raised awareness for the disease with the Ice Bucket Challenge to earn SI's Inspiration of the Year award. By Emily Kaplan

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Diagnosed with leukemia in April 2013, New England Revolution left back Kevin Alston fought to beat cancer and is now fighting for an MLS Cup title with his team. By Jeff Bradley


Bakary Coulibaly was two-years-old when his family fled civil war in the Republic of Congo. Now a teenager, Bakary is fighting to find a new home -- and a new role on the South Bronx United youth soccer team -- 62,000 miles away in New York City. By Tom Taylor


Dante Chiappetta has cerebral palsy and cortical visual impairment, but he is a member of the Yale Bulldogs as part of Team Impact, a Boston-based charity that brings together children facing life-threatening illnesses with collegiate teams. By Steve Rushin


Isaiah Austin was told he had Marfan syndrome five days before being drafted into the NBA, ending his basketball career. Now he's dreaming again and bringing awareness to his disorder. By David Gardner

Watch: Austin experiences what could have been his first NBA game.​


When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it displaced thousands of families, including D.J. Fluker, who has gone from homeless and penniless to a starting offensive tackle for the San Diego Chargers in the NFL. By Jon Wertheim


After five years in the Navy, Mitch Harris is trading his Naval officer covers for a baseball hat in hopes of fulfilling his life-long dream of pitching in the major leagues. By Jeff Bradley

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