With double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius (far left) winning an appeal and being allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes at the 2008 Beijing Games, SI.com takes a look at some recent Olympic-caliber and professional athletes who have battled through hardships.
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Born without a right hand, Abbott pitched 10 seasons in the majors for the Angels, Yankees, White Sox and Brewers. "I've learned that it's not the disability that defines you," Abbott once said, "it's how you deal with the challenges the disability presents you with."
3 of 18Bill Frakes/SI
Diagnosed at 9 with Stargardt's disease (the leading cause of legal blindness in the U.S.), Runyan (#3375) became the first legally blind track and field athlete to compete in the Olympics when she ran in the 1,500 at the 2000 Sydney Games.
4 of 18Darryl Norenberg/WireImage.com
Born in 1947 without toes on his right foot, Dempsey gained notoriety in 1970 when he kicked a NFL record-setting 63-yard field goal for New Orleans in a 19-17 victory over Detroit.
5 of 18V.J. Lovero/SI
After avascular necrosis led to the deterioration of the cartilage and bone around his left joint, Jackson was forced to get an artificial hip in 1991 and said goodbye to his NFL career. But the two-sport star went on to hit a career-high .279 with 13 homers in 1994 for the Angels.
6 of 18Simon Bruty/SI
Martin took on the PGA Tour and won, getting a 7-2 ruling from the Supreme Court in 2001 so he could ride a cart in tournaments. A birth defect in his right leg made it too painful for him to walk 18 holes.
7 of 18Olivier Labalette/DPPI/Icon SMI
The world's most renowned cyclist recovered from testicular cancer to win a record-setting seven consecutive Tour de France titles.
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In March 2000, Elliot became the first player in NBA history to return to action after a major organ transplant (kidney). Alonzo Mourning returned after a similar transplant in 2004, and Greg Ostertag returned to the game in 2002 after donating a kidney to his younger sister.
9 of 18Damian Strohmeyer/SI
The All-Pro linebacker is believed to be the only U.S. professional athlete other than national rodeo champion Stran Smith to return to his former level of ability after suffering a stroke. Bruschi was temporarily blind in his left eye and couldn't walk steadily after his 2005 incident.
10 of 18David E. Klutho/SI
Mario Lemieux started out his career charmed, scoring a goal in his first game as a rookie. After leading the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992, he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease in 1993. He returned and retired for good in 2006 as the NHL's seventh-leading point leader and with a firm spot in the NHL Hall of Fame.
11 of 18Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
The two-time CART season champion and former Formula 1 driver had both of his legs amputated following a horrific crash during a 2001 race in Germany. He returned to racing in 2003.
12 of 18Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
From Terry Cummings to Eddy Curry, the NBA has had its share of players who've dealt with heart issues, but perhaps none as extreme as Turiaf, who underwent open heart surgery in July 2005 after being diagnosed with an enlarged aortic root. He returned to the team in January 2006.
13 of 18John Iacono/SI
Born with Tourette's syndrome, retired MLB player Jim Eisenreich learned to ignore the mean-spirited hecklers. After retiring once because of the syndrome in 1984, he returned in 1988 for 10 more successful years in the league.
14 of 18David E. Klutho/SI
The NHL's rookie of the year in 1997, Berard was told he might lose his right eye after he was accidentally hit by a stick in 2000. Seven surgeries improved his vision to 20/600 and a special contact lens improved it to the NHL minimum of 20/400, so he returned much of the $6.5 million insurance settlement he'd received and was back on the ice in 2002.
15 of 18Bob Rosato/SI
The Charlotte Bobcats forward and former Gonzaga star is among a long list of athletes who have dealt with diabetes, such as Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson, Bobby Clarke, Billie Jean King and Gary Hall Jr. Morrison says he injected himself with insulin at least once a game in college and sometimes as many as five times.
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A first baseman who played 10 seasons in the majors, beginning in 1992, Brogna took medication daily after being diagnosed in 1991 with ankylosing spondylitis, a severe form of spinal arthritis.
17 of 18Bob Rosato/SI
The list of professional and Olympic athletes who have battled depression includes Picabo Street, Julie Krone, Terry Bradshaw, Barrett Robbins, Chamique Holdsclaw and Mike Tyson. Williams, the 2002 NFL rushing leader, suffered such overwhelming social anxiety that he couldn't bring himself to leave his house to mail a letter.
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Of the numerous hardship athletes, including Hall of Fame pitcher Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, who predated our 40-year radius, the one we just couldn't leave out is Pete Gray, a one-armed outfielder who played one season with the St. Louis Browns in 1945. A natural righthander, Gray lost the limb as a kid when he slipped off and fell under his father's truck. In 77 appearances with the Browns, Gray hit .218 with 13 RBI and had a .958 fielding percentage.
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