Make no mistake: Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury, in the very first game of the new NBA season, was positively stomach-churning. We seriously feel for him—and for the Celtics, who have 128 million reasons to hope it’s not as bad as it looked. That being said, lots of athletes have played through injuries and circumstances that seem rather shocking now. Say a prayer for the following sportsmen, who refused to let broken legs, sternums and even necks (necks!) keep them off the field…
1. Ronnie Lott Loses a Finger: The Hall of Fame defensive back is easily one of the toughest players in NFL history. After horrifically crushing his pinky finger during the 1985 season, he opted to have the tip amputated so that he’d be ready in time for ’86—when he led the league with a career-best 10 interceptions.
2. Steve Yzerman Plays with Extreme Leg Ligament Damage: Stevie Y is considered one of the NHL’s greatest captains, and it isn’t hard to see why. Despite massive ligament damage in his leg, he fought through and led the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2002. He later described the pain as feeling like bone scraping on bone every time he took a stride.
3. Bert Trautmann Breaks Neck, Stays in Game: Trautmann played goalie for Manchester City for 15 years in the middle of the 20th century. During a game in 1956, he hurt his neck while in a diving collision but refused leave the game. As it turned out, he broke several vertebrae, and it was a miracle he even survived, let alone played on.
5. Y.A Tittle Plays Whole Season with Broken Sternum: Tittle is an NFL Hall of Famer who played from 1948 to 1964. During a game in his final season, Tittle sustained a broken sternum and a concussion while being sacked. He could have easily called it quits then, but he played out the remainder of the season with the injury.
7. Chris Simms Plays With a Ruptured Spleen: During a game against the Panthers in 2006, Buccaneers QB Chris Simms got knocked around the field all day. After being taken out of the game for a period, he returned but was extremely uncomfortable. After the game, he was taken to the hospital, where it was discovered he had ruptured his spleen, an injury that could have been fatal.
8. Tiger Woods Wins US Open With Broken Leg and Torn ACL: Coming into the 2008 US Open, Woods was dealing with serious damage in his left leg and knee, and many thought he had rushed his return. Woods proceeded to win the tournament in a playoff, then missed the rest of the 2008 season due to surgery and rehab. The victory remains Tiger’s last Major victory. But as you may have heard, he had some other stuff going on too.
10. Jack Youngblood Plays Through a Broken Fibula: In 1980, Youngblood toughed out a playoff game despite a wrecked leg. The Hall of Fame Defensive End missed just one game during his entire 14-year-career. He was also teammates with a guy named Jim Youngblood (somehow not his brother), hence this amazing full-name jersey.
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