Skip to main content

Inspirations: Stories of athletes who defy odds, overcome obstacles

Stories of athletes who overcome obstacles, exhibit sportsmanship and defy the odds to achieve success
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

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.

. Gift ’N Grind

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

. A doctor without borders

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

. I believe that we will win!

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

. Darkness unto light

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

. Legacy Still Felt

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

. Earning His Keep

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

. Can't Keep Her Down

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

. Winning the fight for his life

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

. Looking Beyond Basketball

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

. Marching On

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

. The Dream That Wouldn't Die

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

. One TOUGH Gator: UF football team, Community rally around 8-year-old Jay Ryon

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

. A Son's recovery inspires a father to train

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

. Near-death experience helps bosh appreciate life as NBA star

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

. WNBA star Tina Charles is determined to help her community

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

. 108-year-old Mariners fan walked unlikely path to history

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

. Yippee Ki-Yazy: How Wisconsin QB Joel Stave got over his case of the yips

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

. Reborn and revived: Marines vet Hank Goff rediscovers joy through football

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

. The Sixth Tool: How Michael Brantley and his father built an MVP swing

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

. In defending daughter, Curt Schilling becomes powerful anti-bullying voice

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

. Bob Chase, Doc Emrick's inspiration, still calling games at 89 and loving it

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

. Perseverence in pursuit: U.S.'s Shannon Boxx chases World Cup title despite diagnoses

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

. Look At Me Now, Mom: Why Mother's Day is so special to the NBA

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

. U.S. Soccer trio giveS new meaning to term 'soccer moms'

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

. In good hands: NFL prospect Sammie Coates has so much to offer

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

. The saga of 'Salsa Nacho': How the once-homeless Baylor RB found joy

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

. Former pitcher Jamie Moyer is changing children's lives with his grief camps

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

. Plagued with injuries, UW's Deontae Cooper is still fighting for NFL dreams

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

. Inspiration of the Year: Frates, Gleason lead way in fight for ALS cure

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


. Revolution's Kevin Alston overcomes leukemia, aims for MLS Cup

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

. A teen from the Congo finds a new home on a South Bronx soccer team

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

. Yale football finds strength in six-year-old teammate Dante Chiappetta

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 dreams again after NBA hopes dashed

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

. D.J. Fluker: from homelessness to the NFL

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

. Former navy officer Mitch Harris chases MLB Dream

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