What a weekend for sports fans, with two world-class athletes making some impressive strides after devastating injuries.
Skier Lindsey Vonn just announced she’ll compete at the World Cup at Lake Louisa. You may know she partially tore her reconstructed knee’s ACL a few weeks ago. She tells reporters she’ll postpone surgery until after the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
And basketball fans await Kobe Bryant’s return to the court as the Lakers take on the Toronto Raptors. Bryant tore his achilles tendon last season and is recovering from surgery.
A large portion of my practice involves treating professional athletes, from runners, to NBA and PGA players. I always keep a close eye on stories involving these possibly-career ending injuries. I know first hand the process of recovery, and the challenges involved in making a return to the sport.
Here in no particular order are my Top 5 Greatest Comebacks in Sports History:
1. Dave Dravecky: Who isn’t inspired by this man? Dravecky was a San Francisco Giants pitcher who developed a cancerous tumor in his arm in 1988. He recovered from surgery and opted to return to the field, even though it meant risking further damage and injury. He suffered a horrific broken humerus bone while pitching. Shortly after that, Dravecky’s cancer returned and he retired. Doctors eventually amputated his arm. Dravecky and his wife now run the organization Endurance.
2. Adrian Peterson: No, I’m not talking about the groin injury that kept him out of practice this week. I’m referring to his ACL injury. Not only did he make it back to the field in record time, but he is now considered the best running back in the NFL.
3. Monica Seles: Seles’ recovery from a shocking stabbing is undoubtedly the biggest mental comeback in history. An obsessed Steffi Graf fan charged from the stands during a 1993 match, plunging a knife between Seles’ shoulder blades. Seles’ physical wounds healed within a few weeks, but it took more than two years before she played tennis again.
4. Grant Hill: Hill suffered an ankle injury that plagued him for years, and even cost him his spot in the 2000 Olympics. In 2003, Hill underwent ankle reconstruction, but five days later developed a potentially-fatal infection. Doctors feared Hill could lose his foot. But after six months of antibiotics, he played 67 games for the Orlando Magic’s 2004-2005 season. He retired early this year at age 40.
5. Shawn Livingston: No explanation necessary. Just watch this video.
And my Honorable Mentions go to:
1. Curt Schilling: The Boston Red Sox pitcher underwent ankle surgery right before the World Series. He pitched during the 2004 series, and famously bled through his sock. And you know what? That bloody sock sold for more than $92,000 earlier this year. Really. I know.
2. Kerri Strug: It’s considered one of the greatest moments in US Olympic history. The gymnast fights through the pain of two torn ligaments to secure the team gold medal.
Until next week, Shake it, Baby.