Sports are tough. Theyíre not always happy. The good guy doesnít always win and the players we love to hate sometimes step up and take home the prize.
In the last decade of sports there have been plenty of success stories and just as many falls from grace. As fans itís really hard sometimes to say which we like more. The athletes who overcome all the odds and win in spite of all negative forces working against them or the tortured soul who no matter how hard they try canít get it right. In America, watching an athleteís ascension into the stars is just as interesting as watching him or her plummet back to earth. Donít ask me why, but it is the nature of sports today. Failure sells just as much as success.
This is my list of athletes who we used to love, then hated for a while and now love again.
This is where the big problem began for many (myself included). Along with, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh during a televised pep rally for the people of Miami, Lebron James announced that the Miami Heat werenít going to win just one, two, three finally up to seven championships topping the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 90ís. I like confidence just like anyone else and thatís a bold prediction, but couple that with ďThe DecisionĒ and James became public enemy number one. Cleveland fans burned his jersey in the street and in his first year as a Miami Heat player, he struggled in his new role as the bad guy.
James didnít receive redemption until he led the Miami Heat to a championship. I wouldnít say James is forgiven. Ask any Cleveland Cavaliers fan and they will mostly like agree, but he isnít necessarily hate either now.
Tyson didnít fall from grace. He plummeted. In the late 80ís and early 90ís sat atop the world as boxingís heavy weight champion of the world. He was in his early twenties and he was not just winning, he was dominating every opponent he faced. Then his legendary trainer Constantine ďCusĒ DíAmato died, married Robin Givens, partnered with Don King and was convicted of rape. Despite a laundry list of missteps Tyson has climb his way from prison, back onto the movie and Broadway stage. Iím as surprised as any, but Tyson is the poster child for fall and redemption.
From 1999 to 2005, Armstrong controlled the cycling world on and off the track with an iron fist. He stole seven Tour De France championships, along with the benefit, notoriety and world appreciation that came with them. In 2012 after years of speculation, deflection, bullying and harassment Armstrong finally gave up his strong arm tactics and told the world what most already suspected of him. During his entire championship run he doped and cheated. I donít think sports fans or much of the general public will forgive Armstrong anytime soon, but what he has done in the world of cancer research and fundraising is good (even if it was built on the back of lies). I canít say that I, or any other sports fan will be able to forgive Armstrong, but to the one cancer patient who took solace in Armstrongís words and used them to fuel their fire to fight cancer. Thatís a start.