Imagine, a century from now, looking back on the plague of sexual abuse. In a year where the crime cast its shadow over the sports world, two bright spots in the dark history -- Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and Judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison -- refused to be silent victims. Gary Smith tells the stories of two individuals who overcame horror to rise to the top of their fields.
2 of 7 Robert Beck/SI
Alex Rodriguez will miss the first three months of the 2013 season with a hip injury, and his run as a dominant force in Major League Baseball could very well be over. Mariners and Rangers fans despise him for his perceived greed, and Yankee fans hate him for his struggles in the clutch (while conveniently ignoring the 2009 playoffs), and everybody else calls him an overpaid steroid cheat. Joe Sheehan asks, did all of our vitriol toward Alex Rodriguez cause us to miss the true measure of his impact?
3 of 7 John Biever/SI
The SI writers team up to explain why the U.S. female Olympians not only perform admirably, but exude the qualities that we seek in all athletes -- especially young females. Between the fierceness of the gymnastics team, the dominance of Serena Williams, the focus of Clarissa Shields, or the unity of the swim team, the U.S. Women were a proud and accomplished group this summer.
4 of 7 John Rivera/Icon SMI
Jim Trotter interviews a handful of of scouts and general managers to determine the eight top prospects in this year's NFL Draft. Right now, the top guy is Luke Joeckel, one of the men responsible for protecting the man they call Johnny Football. The rest of the order may surprise you.
5 of 7 Robert Beck/SI
Manny Pacquiao may well fight again, but after being knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez in a ferocious fourth fight, the Filipino fighter has lost his aura. Chris Mannix discusses what comes next for the world's most famous boxer.
6 of 7 Jed Jacobsohn/SI
Eli Manning is the first of SI's Inspiring Performers of 2012. Call him a hangdog hero, a sad-sack superman or a kid brother to a legend -- you still probably won't bet against Eli Manning when it is all on the line in February. S.L. Price explains how the MVP of two Super Bowls, a scion of football's first family and the ultimate game-changer, Manning redefines how we interpret a superstar.
7 of 7 Greg Nelson/SI
Jeremy Lin was the inspiring underdog. The problem was that there was something for everybody -- the point guard who came out of nowhere, the sensation that gripped New York and the first Asian-American basketball star. Albert Chen explains that the problem was that everybody wanted to claim Lin as their own.
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