10 Inspiring Athletes
Many athletes have inspired us over the years. They not only changed their respective games, but also the world around them. Here are some of the athletes that have and are still inspiring us today with their talent and charitable works.
Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente was loved by the city not only for his four batting crowns and hitting .414 during the 1971 World Series, but for his charity work. Clemente, who won the Gold Glove 12 times, died tragically in a plane crash in 1972 on his way to bring supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. He was 38. The Roberto Clemente Award is given to a player for his contributions on and off the field.
Hall of Fame tennis star Martina Navratilova was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a successful lumpectomy to remove cancerous cells last spring. Nine months later, the 54-year-old attempted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and made it to 14,000 feet before fluid started to fill her lungs and she was forced to descend. On the way down from her climb she said “…quitting was not in her vocabulary." It was apparent in Navratilova’s career, as she collected 167 career titles, the most among women and men tennis players.
Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player to break down the color barrier in the majors on April 15, 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The infielder had a career batting average of .311 and was voted six consecutive times to the All-Star games. Robinson was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 on the first ballot.
Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols took home the Roberto Clemente Award in 2008 after starting the Pujols Family Foundation three years earlier in St. Louis. The foundation helps young adults and children who live with Down syndrome. His charity also brings food, clothes and medical supplies into his native country of the Dominican Republic. Pujols, 31, has a lifetime batting average of .331, and slugging percentage (.624), leading all active players at the conclusion of the 2010 season. “My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord-- it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will,” Pujols said about his success.
In a world that consists of Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (in his third season) seemed overshadowed. But Stamkos, 20, is taking the spotlight back, piling up 65 points in 48 games, and was one point behind Crosby by mid January. The natural goal scorer won the Rocket Richard Award for the player that scores the most goals in a season (2010), and shared the award with Crosby. Ovechkin was just one point shy of sharing the award as well.
Jim Abbott was born without a right hand and proved that anyone can follow their dream. In 1993, Abbott threw a no hitter with the New York Yankees in a game against the Cleveland Indians and also helped the United States collect its first gold in the baseball Summer Olympics (1988). Although he played in the majors, Abbott's career was far from perfect. He finished with an 87-108 record, a 4.25 ERA, and struck out 888 upon retiring in 1999 with Milwaukee.
“There were some incredible highlights and some agonizing low lights. The truth is--I won't go to the Hall of Fame. But if a career can be measured by special moments, lessons learned and a connection with people, then I would stack mine up with anyone's," said Abbott, who is currently a motivational speaker.