A lot of people are envious of sportspeople. They think they have the perfect job, often getting tons of money and recognition for doing what’s essentially their hobby. It might seem like the perfect life. But it’s not always sunshine and roses. The life of a pro athlete is no cake walk. Sure, some sports are more dangerous than others, but even so, as an athlete, you don’t practice and hone your craft in the expectation that eventually you’re going to succumb to the dangers of your sport. But unfortunately, there have been many deaths in sport, whilst the sport is taking place, athletes have died in action. There have also been plenty of near misses, leaving the athletes thanking their lucky stars they’re still alive and kicking.
These athletes probably can’t believe they’re still standing, and we as fans, knowing what they’ve gone through, can’t believe it either. On occasions, it’s not the sport itself that results in these situations arising. Sometimes it’s the lifestyle an athlete leads. They get sucked into that whole celebrity lifestyle, go down a dark hole and often there’s no going back. Drink and drugs and what have you, the destructive lifestyle, can debilitate an athlete. It’s amazing that some of those who’ve gone down that path are still here today. The majority of people probably thought that they’d passed away a long time ago. These are 15 athletes that for whatever reason, people thought had passed away but are still alive today.
15 Josh Hamilton
Baseball outfielder – someone who could very soon be a former baseball outfielder – Josh Hamilton, is currently a free agent. It’s amazing he managed to play all the years he did, and that he’s still alive, because of his battles with drug addiction and alcoholism. In the early 2000s, Josh was using extensively, was in deep. Understandably it affected his career, and his relationships, his marriage. He got clean, announcing in 2008 that he had been sober for three years. But this didn’t last long. In 2009 he relapsed. In the coming years he suffered several more relapses. The amount of times he was essentially poisoning his body, it’s a miracle he’s still around, and quite a lot of people would probably think he’s no longer around today.
14 Dada 5000
Dhafir Harris, aka Dada 5000, is a massive name in the world of fighting sports. He’s almost as popular as the late Kimbo Slice was, and his career’s followed pretty much the same path. From street fighting to getting down to business in the octagon, Dada 5000’s known for dishing out punishment, and because of the nature of the industry he’s in, he’s taken quite a few blows too. When these blows happen on the street, things aren’t pretty. But things weren’t pretty when he took on Kimbo Slice in the octagon either. It was a brutal encounter which resulted in Dada 5000 being rushed to hospital.
Amazingly, he’d had a heart attack, suffered from severe dehydration, and you can add renal failure to that list too. He’s been very quiet since and hasn’t fought again. It’s probably led people to believe that he’s dead, following in the footsteps of Kimbo Slice who recently died. Seeing him after that fight, and knowing what was wrong with him, you’d have expected him not to make it.
13 Tony Hawk
On quite a few occasions, skater Tony Hawk, aka “The Birdman,” wasn’t flying. Being a pro skater, doing what he does on the ramps, it’s understandable that Tony’s had his fair share of injuries. He’s had a ton of serious injuries over the years, and on a couple of occasions, has very nearly died. Many of those who know about Tony Hawk don’t really know him for his skating career. They know him for his movies and video games, and these haven’t been released with the same regularity that they once were. That’s probably led to some people questioning his whereabouts – perhaps he died in a skating accident? This whole fake news thing also hasn’t helped matters. Last year he was the latest celeb who was a death hoax victim, but he soon put the false rumors to bed.
12 Robert Konrad
While Robert Konrad was never really a household name in football, he did play for six seasons with the Miami Dolphins and adopted Florida as his home. While enjoying what many Floridians do, boating, Konrad got into an accident and went missing at sea for a long time, with many presuming he had passed away. However, after a nine-mile swim, and going missing for 16 hours, Konrad was found on the shore after making it to shore close to sunrise.
"I had hypothermia and my body was shaking uncontrollably. I didn't realize it was five in the morning," he said. Konrad sure can thank his lucky stars that he's alive and doctors seemed to agree: "It is just incomprehensible that this gentleman survived actually, because your temperature is going to drop," Dr. Scott McFarland told ABC News.
11 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Antonio is widely regarded to be one of the best MMA competitors in history. He’s schooled in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and went on to have a decent career before deciding to call it quits after a dip in form. He lost three times in a row and made the sensible decision to step away from the octagon, after years of putting his body through a crazy amount of punishment. Due to some of the things he’s gone through, it’s not unreasonable to think he’s no longer with us. That fight against Frank Mir comes to mind; Antonio let Frank break his arm because he didn’t want to tap out. That’s hardcore, and some people may see that to be rather crazy. But when he was younger, he had a miraculous recovery from a horrific accident. He was actually run over by a truck and spent four days in a coma. The fact he’s still here today is amazing.
10 Fabrice Muamba
English soccer player, Fabrice Muamba used to be one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. But for the last four years, he’s seemingly vanished from the public eye. His playing days are over. He’s alive and well, is enjoying life, and is still among us. But those who saw what happened to him on the pitch on that near fateful day in 2012, would probably have thought that he’d passed away. He had a cardiac arrest in the first half of an FA Cup match against Tottenham. It was horrific to see. Medical personnel rushed onto the pitch and there was a lengthy delay, after which he was rushed to hospital where he ended up in intensive care. Apparently, his heart actually stopped beating for 78 minutes, and it was thought he wouldn’t make it.
9 Felipe Massa
Formula 1 is one of those sports that’s incredibly dangerous. Everyone knows of the dangers of Formula 1, and that’s what makes it such an exhilarating, enthralling spectacle. Felipe Massa’s been there since the early 2000s. With Ferrari, he was rated at one of the best around. But since leaving Ferrari, he hasn’t tasted anywhere near the same amount of success, and his dip in form, in terms of podium finishes, has been drastic. That’s gotten many people talking. But he is still around, although he won’t be on the Formula 1 scene for long. It’s a miracle he is still racing after the crash which almost took his life in 2009. During practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix, a spring detached from a car in front of him and struck Massa on the head as he was doing 175mph. He crashed, suffered a skull fracture, and was seriously close to losing his life.
8 Lamar Odom
In 2015, Lamar Odom was one of the most searched people on Google. After people began loving the basketball star, seeing his antics and dynamic with the Kardashians on their reality TV show, he almost became as big a celebrity as the Kardashians themselves. People wanted to know everything about him. But in 2015, people were probably Googling his name to find out whether he was dead or alive. His life had slowly begun to unravel. Addictions meant his life was heading down a path of death and destruction. This all came to a head in October 2015. He was found unconscious at a brothel, and due to the amount of toxins in his system, he was in a seriously bad state. He needed to be placed on a life support machine. and after that things have been rather quiet. Quite a lot of people must have thought that he didn’t make it, or is still on that destructive path, but he’s tried to sort his life out since then.
7 Danny Williams
British boxer, someone who was nicknamed the Brixton Bomber, Danny Williams, is a veteran of the sport. He’s been a pro since 1995, and was once one of the best fighters on the planet. His career highlight is undoubtedly him knocking out the seemingly indestructible Mike Tyson. He had a few more successes after that, and was involved in some brutal battles in the ring. Due to the damage, very evident damage, that Danny’s sustained over the years, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that he’d now passed away.
When he announced he wanted to come out of retirement, the British Boxing Board of Control wouldn’t grant him a license. They didn’t deem him fit to box. His health was seriously bad, but Danny needed the money, so moved country, and got a license from the Baltic League of Professional Boxing. Since then he’s began losing with increasing regularity, losing to guys who no one’s heard of. He steps in the ring for a paycheck, and as a heavyweight, he’s getting seriously damaged. There’s been fake news that Danny’s passed away, and due to his health and the punishment he’s taking as a heavyweight, a lot of people probably believed it, many probably still do.
6 Maya Gabeira
Let’s face it, being a big wave surfer isn’t exactly a sport that gets lots of worldwide coverage. But Maya was one woman who stood out. Being hot certainly helped. But since her massive accident surfing a gigantic wave in 2013, she’s been very quiet. If you heard about the accident she had on the waves, and didn’t know the outcome, you’d guess she didn’t make it. She was moments from passing away. She was surfing the waves in Portugal. The waves were particularly big that day, and the seas were incredibly choppy too, due to the St. Jude storm. She ended up losing control, lost consciousness, and very nearly drowned. Her fellow Brazilian surfer managed to save her and pull her to safety where she was revived.
5 Willie Mays
Willie Mays is now in his late 80s and much like he proved to have longevity in his career, he's enjoying a long, fulfilling life. Before getting a chance to shine in the majors, Mays had to spend several years in the Negro Leagues, as Major League Baseball hadn't fully integrated when Mays was starting his career. In addition to playing baseball, Mays was drafted to serve in the Korean war in the early 50s and then went on to have his legendary career in the majors. It's not that Mays ever really experienced a life threatening illness or suffered from any addiction, but it's simply a case of him having lived pretty quietly in recent years, leading many to assume he'd left us, but he hasn't.
4 Theoren Fleury
Theoren Fleury has had a tumultuous life. His story is truly tragic, and when you learn about it, you’ll probably be thinking it’s no wonder he turned to drink and drugs in order to mask the pain and try and expel those mental demons. Theoren was addicted to such substances for so long, it’s amazing he’s still around. Many people probably think he is no longer around, because since retiring from hockey, which was something he could focus on, he hasn’t been doing much of anything. Idle hands make for devil’s work, as the saying goes. It all arose because of abuse Theoren suffered as a child. His junior hockey coach abused him, and this resulted in Theoren going down the path of self-destruction. Thankfully his wife was on hand to help him through the pain and subsequent addictions.
3 John Daley
American golfer John Daley is another guy who self-destructed and went down a dark path in order to try and deal with pains of the past. He’s quit the alcohol, but his golf game’s also suffered. He’s failed to make the cut in a lot of tournaments, hence the idea of him passing, not even being there, may have been swirling around the minds of some. The fact that he still is playing is quite remarkable. John Daley has battled alcohol addictions for many years. It’s gotten him into plenty of hot water, and has meant he’s battled numerous health problems.
Hopefully he hasn’t slipped off the wagon, because if he does, along with his other lifestyle choices, such as going through more than a pack of cigarettes a day, it might not be long before he actually passes away.
2 Todd Marinovich
In the 90s, quarterback Todd Marinovich was one seriously good player. He loved his football, but loved something else too, something that very nearly destroyed him. Todd was in deep as an addict. He was taking large amounts of drugs, so much that it’s a miracle he’s still around today. His drug-taking was in part due to his father, and what he expected of Todd. But Todd got out of control, especially when a debilitating knee injury kept him sidelined. But thankfully for his sake and the sake of his family and football fans, he got clean after a stint in rehab. Amazingly, in July of this year, he even signed a contract to play again, making him the oldest starting quarterback in history. How his life’s changed.
1 Michael Schumacher
Even if you’re not really into Formula 1, chances are you’ve heard of Michael Schumacher. The German superstar was one of the best racers of all time, and for many years was the face of the sport. But he didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries on the track. In 2013, he almost lost his life in a skiing accident. He suffered a brain injury, and ended up being placed in a medically induced coma for six months. Everything was kept very hush hush after that. His family and those close to him didn’t want to disclose any information, so we weren’t sure when he came out of the coma, or how his rehab’s been going. He’s still getting rehab and medical treatment, but all this has been kept very private. It probably led a number of people to believe that he didn’t make it out of the hospital.