Athletes That Inspire Us: The Remarkable True Life Stories of 20 Unique Athletes

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9781932968217: Athletes That Inspire Us: The Remarkable True Life Stories of 20 Unique Athletes
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Athletes That Inspire Us digs into sports history and uncovers and shares some of the true gems of the sports world, capturing the essence and caliber of some very remarkable people. Each chapter chronicles the journey of a different athlete who reached extraordinary heights. Readers will learn firsthand about athletes who did the unlikely or even the "impossible," athletes who overcame enormous odds, athletes who refused to quit when things looked bad or hopeless, athletes who exhibit tremendous character traits, and athletes whose spectacular stories are sure to inspire anyone. Athletes That Inspire Us will take readers alongside these athletes so they can share their adventures and truly understand the unique parts of their experiences that took them to extraordinary heights. Readers will learn lessons about perseverance, self-belief, winning, overcoming setbacks, looking at the big picture, challenging yourself, and much more. The tremendous stories and achievements of the people profiled in Athletes That Inspire Us are truly some of the finest in sports history. In fact, they are some of the finest in all of history, and ones that anyone will be sure to appreciate and enjoy time and time again.

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From the Publisher:

The world loves sports. The excitement, the competition, the challenges, the physicality, and the strategy--these and many other attributes make sports a truly irreplaceable aspect of the modern world. And within this fantastic world of sports, there have been some incredible and phenomenal stories of human triumph and excellence. Indeed, sports are a source of some of the greatest human-interest stories ever.

And now the new book Athletes That Inspire Us brings together some of the absolute best of them into one phenomenal compilation. In the book, author Rodney Ohebsion presents the remarkable true-life stories of twenty unique athletes who reached extraordinary heights, and whose stories are sure to inspire anyone.

From the incredible journey of basketball legend Michael Jordan, to the unbelievable accomplishments of blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer, to the composure and leadership of baseball immortal Jackie Robinson, to the big game magic of four time Super Bowl champion Joe Montana, to the fascinating career of one handed baseball pitcher Jim Abbott, to the unlikely comeback of heavyweight boxer George Foreman, to so much more--Athletes That Inspire Us delivers stories and achievements that anyone will be sure to appreciate and enjoy time and time again.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

A Champion Emerges from the Fire: Glenn Cunningham

"He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying." Friedrich Nietzsche

Many of the greatest champions in sports history began their athletic dreams at a very young age. But for a seven-year-old Glenn Cunningham, a future in sports would have seemed out of the question.

It was at that young age that Glenn narrowly evaded death in a horrific 1916 fire accident that claimed the life of his older brother Floyd, and left Glenn with severe burns and injuries. Glenn was taken to the hospital, where doctors pondered his chances of survival, and at one point recommended a leg amputation--an option that Glenn’s parents decided against. Glenn remained in the hospital in critical condition for six weeks before recovering from the near-death episode. When bandages were removed, it was clear that the effects of the fire had taken their toll. The arches on both of Glenn’s feet were damaged, his left foot's toes were nearly burned off, and his right leg was about three inches shorter than his left one. Doctor wondered if he would ever walk again, but a determined Glenn went home and began steadily rehabilitating his injuries.

After a few weeks of exercise and practice, Glenn gained a minor victory when he walked with the use of crutches. Several months later, he had progressed to the next step and was able to stand on his own. Then about nine months after that, an ecstatic Glenn could once again walk without the crutches. But the walking hurt. Curiously, when Glenn tried to run later, he discovered that running was virtually pain-free. Glenn would later recall those times, saying, "For five or six years, about all I did was run."

At the age of 12, Glenn won a race against several of his schoolmates. Decades later, he would call that race the biggest of his life--a monumental statement considering the big races that were to come in his future.

By the time he reached high school, Glenn had become a solid athlete, and competed in high school football, basketball, and most notably track, where in his senior year he set a high school record in the mile with a time of 4:24.7.

However, circulation problems from Glenn's childhood accident caused him to require extensive preparation for his races and other athletic events. He needed an hour to massage his legs and to do a full and complete warm up for every race. An undaunted Glenn was willing to do the work, and continued the demanding routine throughout his entire track career.

After high school, Glenn attended the University of Kansas in 1931, and as member of their track team, he soon established himself as one of the world's elite athletes. In 1933--16 years after the horrific fire accident that left doctors wondering if he would ever be able to walk again--Glenn Cunningham set a world record for the mile with a time of 4:06.7. He continued a storied and legendary track career, winning many races and gaining great acclaim.

By 1938, Glenn already owned numerous track records when he ran a mile in 4:04.4 in an unsanctioned exhibition race. If the race had been officially sanctioned, Glenn's time would have set a record that would not be beaten for 17 years.

That same year, Glenn earned a Ph.D. in physical education at New York University. He taught physical education at Cornell University from 1940 to 1944, and then joined the Navy, where he attained the rank of lieutenant. Glenn helped create physical training programs in several Navy stations, and also visited many military hospitals and encouraged wounded soldiers in their recovery.

Perhaps even more notable than Glenn’s achievements in the track world was his work helping thousands of underprivileged youths for a span of more than thirty years. Around 1946, with the help of his wife, he began housing children on his ranch in Kansas, later called the Glenn Cunningham Youth Ranch.

Glenn initially funded the entire ranch with his own money for many years, causing him to skimp on his personal expenses. He didn't own a car for five years and was often close to broke, but he remained committed to helping the children. He was later assisted by a non-profit group, and also began going on lecture tours to raise money for the ranch.

Over his lifetime, Glenn helped raise about 10,000 underprivileged children on his Kansas ranch. He also donated land in Arkansas to start another ranch. In addition to the 10,000 children he helped raise, Glenn also fathered 12 children of his own over the course of two marriages.

Glenn Cunningham died in 1988 at the age of 78. Known for his strong character and convictions, he left a legacy of overcoming adversity, achieving numerous track accomplishments, and playing a positive and important role in the development of many young people. In a 1970s interview, he remarked, "As long as you believe you can do things, they're not impossible."

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