Some injuries in sports are hard to forget. Think of the injury suffered Saturday by Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, who is paralyzed from the neck down after being hit during a game against Army. While LeGrand’s injury is a tough one to swallow, sometimes as sports fans we have to just smile and appreciate all of the feel good stories amidst the losses, scandals and injuries.
There are some competitions that are about a lot more than which team has more points when the final buzzer sounds or the last out is recorded.
In Josh Hamilton’s first four years in Major League Baseball, he spent his $4 million signing bonus on unhealthy habits. One report has him spending approximately $100,000 on prescription drugs and alcohol in a six week period.
Many people gave up on him. With the help of his family and his faith, Hamilton got help and has since written a book about his struggle and tough road getting back into baseball.
He relapsed after three years of sobriety in January after coming back into baseball and participating in the Home Run Derby. All of his feel good story material appeared on the verge of collapse.
But Hamilton pulled through. He picked himself up and had a solid season for the Texas Rangers. He won the American League (AL) batting title despite breaking two ribs in September and missing 24 games. He helped get his team to the American League Championship Series, hit a home run in the first game (against the New York Yankees) and is a contender for the AL MVP award.
Josh Hamilton has proven himself not only a feel good story, but also a role model. He admitted he had a problem and sought help. He admitted when he relapsed and worked to stay clean and sober. Now he could get a World Championship Ring in baseball.
Jessica Breland could be well on her way to a successful season as well. Breland will be returning to the University of North Carolina women’s basketball team this year after missing one and a half seasons following a cancer diagnosis.
Breland will suit up for the Tarheels with her Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in remission. Breland said she is “100 percent healthy” in an interview for ESPN, and her coaches say she looks stronger than she was before the diagnosis.
Breland is not the only college athlete, or the only athlete from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) to battle back from a scary diagnosis.
Boston College (BC) linebacker Mark Herzlich was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 and seemed to be on his way to securing a big time contract in the NFL. Before the 2009 season Herzlich announced he had been diagnosed with a rare form of bone and soft tissue cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Herzlich started BC’s first game of the 2010 season. He has played in all six games, registering 21 tackles and two interceptions.
These stories make us think about the greater lessons in sports, the drive to win and to beat the opponent. In Hamilton’s case, it was addiction. For Breland and Herzlich, it was cancer.
Those are the games where everyone roots for the same team.