Most sports fans can’t take their eyes off the game once it starts, but the worst sports injuries of all-time will have any fan quickly turning away from the action. It’ll make you cringe like you’ve never cringed before, especially when they replay it in slow-mo and zoom the camera in close.
Sports injuries are something you never want to see in a game or practice – not even to an opponent. Unfortunately, it’s part of the game and is bound to happen every now and then. It’s a harsh reality and it’s part of the risk athletes take when they step foot on the court, field, rink, etc.
With that said, injuries are extremely common in sports and while a majority of them are small, short-term injuries, others are more serious and long-term. In fact, some are just straight up horrifying, terrifying, devastating, and hard-to-watch – they’re the worst sports injuries of all-time.
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What Are the Worst Sports Injuries of All-Time?
Like we mentioned above, there are short-term injuries and long-term injuries. The long-term injuries are usually the hardest to watch and usually come with a warning for graphic content. Recovering from these injuries is never easy and some may never get to play sport again.
For example, some of the worst sports injuries an athlete can get are a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), fracture, hamstring injury, concussion, and patellar tendon tear. We pray we never have to witness an athlete suffer one of these, but unfortunately it’s bound to happen.
Now, you might be asking yourself, what were some of the most graphic, worst sports injuries of all-time? Some injuries come to mind right away, but others are easy to forget – especially since no one wants to remember such a tragedy. Without further ado, here are the top-15 worst sports injuries of all-time.
15. Tyrone Prothro
Tyrone Prothro is a former college football wide receiver for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He joined the team in 2003 as a freshman and had 16 catches for 191 yards and one touchdown. He improved in 2004 with 25 catches for 347 yards and two touchdowns (one rush, one catch).
He was having a good 2005 season until he suffered this gruesome injury on October 1, 2005. Prothro went up for a catch in the endzone, but the player guarding him accidentally landed on his leg, snapping it in half. Prothro never played another game again, but he currently coaches.
14. Shaun Livingston
Shaun Livingston is a retired NBA player that spent 14 years in the league. He was drafted fourth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004 and was a productive role player when on the floor. Unfortunately, he was often riddled by injuries throughout the first three years of his career.
That’s when this injury happened. He went up for a layup, but lost his balance on the way down and his knee gave out. He tore his ACL, PCL, and lateral meniscus, terribly sprained his MCL, and dislocated the patella and his tibio-fibular joint. He later recovered and won three titles.
13. Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor was one of the greatest UFC fighters during his glory years, which lasted between 2013 and 2016. During that time, he went 9-1 and became a two-division champion (Featherweight and Lightweight). He was unstoppable and his personality was electric.
After he beat Donald Cerrone in 2020, he lost to Dustin Poirier one year later. Their rematch took place six months later and that’s when this injury happened. McGregor was stepping back when he broke his tibia. He is in the later stages of recovery and is nearing a return to the octagon.
12. Jeremy Lane
Jeremy Lane is a retired NFL defensive back that spent six years in the league after being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He didn’t play a big role on the defense, but finally recorded his first interception in Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.
During the return for that interception, he was tackled by Julian Edelman and landed awkwardly on his hand. He broke his arm and tore his ACL during that play. He missed the first 11 games of the following season, but caught an interception in his return. He retired after the 2017 season.
11. Tim Hudson
Tim Hudson is a retired MLB pitcher that spent 17 years in the league. He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 1997 and made his MLB debut in 1999. He went 11-2 his rookie year, had his only 20-win season the following year, and had at least 10 wins in 11 of the next 12 seasons.
That streak came to an end in 2013 when he went 8-7. That was the season he suffered this gruesome injury. He was fielding first base after an infield hit. His foot was on the bag when the runner stepped on it, fracturing his ankle. He returned the next season and went 9-13.
10. Kevin Ware
Kevin Ware is a basketball player that gained nationwide attention during the 2013 March Madness tournament – for all the wrong reasons. During an Elite Eight game against Duke, he went up for a block and landed on his leg wrong. He suffered an open fracture of the tibia.
He later transferred to Georgia State University to make a return to basketball and move on from the gruesome injury. He had a lot of success and eventually started playing professionally overseas. Kevin Ware currently plays for Al Naft Baghdad of the Iraqi Basketball League.
9. Anderson Silva
Anderson Silva is one of the greatest UFC fighters of all-time and most recognizable names in the sport. After losing his first UFC match, he would win the next nine in a row. He was 13-4 when he began a 17-bout winning streak between 2006 and 2012. He is just 1-7-0 (1 NC) since.
In a rematch with Chris Weidman in 2013, not long after facing his first loss since 2006, Silva suffered a gruesome injury. He went for a leg kick, but Weidman checked it and it snapped Silva’s leg in half. He broke his left fibula and tibia, ending the fight and resulting in his downfall.
8. Paul George
Paul George is an NBA forward that currently plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. He just scored 34 points in his return on Tuesday from a three-month injury recovery. With that said, it’s not the first injury he has suffered in his career and it certainly wasn’t the worst – that was set in 2014.
While practicing with Team USA, George went up for a block on James Harden. George landed awkwardly and ended up suffering a compound fracture in both bones in his lower right leg. He would return to the NBA at the end of the 2014-15 season and has since returned to form.
7. Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward is an NBA forward for the Charlotte Hornets. He was drafted ninth overall by the Utah Jazz in 2010 and spent the next seven years with the team as he established himself as a consistent threat in the league. He then signed a big contract with the Celtics in 2017.
Just six minutes into his first regular season game with the Celtics, Hayward suffered this terrible injury. He went up for an alley-oop, landed awkwardly, broke his tibia, and dislocated his ankle. He missed the entire season, but returned the next year and has since returned to form.
6. Joe Theismann
Joe Theismann is a retired NFL quarterback that spent 12 seasons in the league. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fourth round of the 1971 NFL Draft, but spent his entire career with the Washington Redskins. By 1977, he had a 7-4 record as the starting quarterback.
He became the full-time starter in 1978 and led his team to a 70-43 record over the next eight seasons. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to a compound fracture in his tibia and fibula after being sacked. He never played football again, but still holds several Washington records.
5. Clint Malarchuk
Clint Malarchuk is a retired NHL goalie that spent 10 years in the league between 1981 and 1992. He was drafted by Quebec in the fourth round of the 1981 NHL Draft and spent the next five years with the team. After a two-year stint with Washington, he moved on to Buffalo.
In his first full season with the Buffalo Sabres, Malarchuk suffered this extremely scary injury when a skate cut his neck open. He immediately grabbed his neck as blood started pouring out onto the ice. Luckily, one of the Sabres’ trainers knew to cut off the artery until medics arrived.
4. Samantha Cerio
Samantha Cerio is a retired gymnast that attended Auburn University between 2016 and 2019. Her career-highs in college included a 9.925 on the bars, 9.875 on the beam, and 9.900 on the floor. Unfortunately, her career came to a crashing halt during the 2019 NCAA Regional Tourney.
During a floor exercise, she landed awkwardly after doing several flips. When she landed both of her knees bent the wrong way – she suffered bilateral knee dislocation and fractured legs. It was something most doctors had never seen before. She was walking just two months later.
3. Akil Mitchell
Akil Mitchell is a pro basketball player that played college basketball for the Virginia Cavaliers and currently plays for Brose Bamberg of the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL). In college, he had a breakout year in 2013 as a junior, averaging 13.1 points and 8.9 rebounds in 37 games played.
Mitchell went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft and has since played in the developmental league and in professional leagues overseas. In 2017, as a member of the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL League, Mitchell had his eye poked out after going for a rebound. It’s tough to watch.
2. Willis McGahee
Willis McGahee is a retired NFL running back that spent 10 years in the league. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the 23rd overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. He had 8,474 rushing yards, 65 rushing touchdowns, 1,339 receiving yards, and five receiving touchdowns in his career.
Before McGahee made it to the NFL stage, he played college ball at the University of Miami (FL). During his senior year, he suffered this gruesome injury that resulted in a torn ACL, PCL, and MCL. He missed his entire rookie season, but went on to have quite an incredible career.
1. Evander Holyfield
Evander Holyfield is a retired boxer that competed between 1984 and 2011. He won his first 28 professional bouts before finally suffering his first loss in 1992. He would finish his career in 2011 with a pro record of 44-10-2 and 29 wins by knockout. He was a two-division undisputed champ.
One of Holyfield’s most precious victories came against Mike Tyson in 1996. It led to an intense rematch seven months later, which resulted in this horrific injury. Tyson, who was allegedly retaliating to Holyfield’s headbutting, bit off a part of Holyfield’s ear. He was visibly in pain.
Hopefully All the Worst Sports Injuries Are Behind Us
Sports injuries happen and it’s something we must prepare for, but that doesn’t make them any easier to watch – especially the worst sports injuries of all-time. The only thing we can hope for is that these types of injuries are rare and only happen once in a blue moon – if not never.
For all the young athletes out there, take all the necessary precautions when preventing sports injuries. Make sure you take rest days when training, always stretch before and after exercise, always wear the right protective gear, use proper technique and form, and always play safe.
Not being careful could put your health at risk, as well as the health of those you play with or against. Not only that, but it’ll put your career at risk and could prevent you from chasing your dreams and goals in your chosen sport. Instead, put yourself in a position to succeed!
15 Awe Dropping Moments for the Invictus Games
The Invictus Games were founded by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex in March of 2014. It’s an international sport competition that’s similar to the Paralympics – except the Invictus Games are reserved for wounded and injured servicemen and women from countries around the world.
Prince Harry gained his inspiration for the Invictus Games when visiting the Warrior Games in 2013. He saw first-hand how sport can be used as a recovery mechanism – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially – for those wounded by the horrors of combat.
The term ‘invictus’ means ‘unconquered’ in Latin and was popularized in a poem by William Ernest Henley. The poem speaks of gaining strength in the face of adversity, something these servicemen and women are far too familiar with. The Invictus Games is ‘for the unconquered.’
Moments to Remember at the Invictus Games
According to the official website, the Invictus Games “use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women.” It gives these men and women new meaning and purpose.
The first Invictus Games were held in London in 2014. Since then, Prince Harry has brought the Invictus Games to Orlando, Florida (United States) in 2016, Toronto (Canada) in 2017, Sydney (Australia) in 2018, and most recently in The Hague (The Netherlands) just a few weeks ago.
The Invictus Games in The Hague started on April 16, 2022 and came to a conclusion on April 22, 2022. The events include disciplines from track and field, driving, powerlifting, archery, indoor rowing, cycling, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, sitting volleyball, and swimming.
Let’s take a look at some of the
15. Denmark Couple Are Now Engaged!
The Invictus Games are a time for perseverance and never giving up. Hundreds of athletes from 20+ countries gather to prove they aren’t ready to give up on their dreams and goals. With that said, moments like the one pictured above give the Invictus Games much more meaning.
Lasse Sebastian Jakobsen, a competitor representing Team Denmark, popped the question to his girlfriend, Karina Cronberg, during the second day of the Invictus Games. She, of course, said yes – which marks a new beginning in both of these two love birds’ happy and loving life.
14. The Fight, the Commitment, the Unconquered
We’ve mentioned perseverance. We’ve mentioned the fight, the commitment, and the pride these competitors have. We’ve talked about how these competitors are unconquered. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think there’s a moment that showcases that more than this one.
Retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Lisa McCranie (United States) and former parachute rigger Emma Murfet (Australia) were in a battle during the 200m dash. McCranie ended up winning by a hair (literally), earning the gold medal for the US. Don’t worry, Murfet won a total of four medals.
13. Romanian Couple Are Now Engaged!
We’re not done with the proposals. Not long after the Denmark couple showcased their love on a big stage, another couple decided it was time to spend the rest of their lives together. In fact, it happened on the same day – Cupid must’ve been busy on this particularly special day.
A Romanian competitor, Angel Paul Ilovan, asked his girlfriend, Cezara Sorana, to marry him after he completed the 100m race. It was a moment they will never forget as they now have a wedding to prepare. And if you thought this was our last proposal, we have more for you below!
12. Papa, You Are Invictus!
With hundreds of competitors from all around the world, it’s no surprise that we come across moments like this. The venues of each event are packed with friends, family, and other supporters cheering their loved ones on as they compete for a shot at a coveted gold medal.
In this particular picture, we see a young child high-fiving what’s likely a family member. The shirt on the young child is what captured the hearts of many – it says “Papa, You Are Invictus.” We don’t know who ‘Papa’ is, but he’s one lucky human being to have such a supportive child.
11. The Yellow Wall of Competitors, Friends, and Family
Speaking of friends and family of the competitors, there’s a special tribute wall at the Invictus Games that has the name of every single competitor – as well as some of the friends and family supporting them – on display for all to see. It’s a special tribute to those that make this possible.
The wall is black and the names are written in yellow. The wall is long enough that it would take you a while to find your name, but it’s worth it when you do. Like Luke Cooper said in the video above, it probably means a whole lot of different things to different people. It’s a great tribute.
10. Team Korea Shows Support for Team Ukraine
By now, we’re all well-aware of the devastating war that Russia started in Ukraine. It’s an unprovoked and heartbreaking war that’s killing thousands of people – not just servicemen and women, but also civilians. It’s a war that needs to stop immediately, yet there’s no end in sight.
Despite that, Team Korea took the time to extend their support for Team Ukraine, who were both competing in the Invictus Games. Korea raised funds and presented Ukraine with gifts during an awe-dropping exchange. It goes to show the camaraderie and unity these competitors have.
9. Przemysław Kowalski Wins a Gold Medal in Rowing
Przemysław Kowalski, competing as part of Team Poland, took home a gold medal in the IR6 one-minute Sprint during the indoor rowing event. He rowed a total of 376 meters during that one minute, which was seven meters more than Ukraine’s Serhii Naumov, who finished second.
22 other competitors finished with more than 300 meters rowed in the race, but only six of them finished with more than 350 meters – Ashley Muir, Hagen Norman Dag Vockerodt, Nathan Huddy, and Gabriel Ramon. It was an exciting event and well-earned gold medal for Kowalski.
8. The Single Yellow Chair in Every Venue
If you were to show up at a venue for the Invictus Games before anyone else arrived, you might recognize a single yellow chair randomly placed in the venue. At first, it might not mean anything to you, but that single yellow chair serves a purpose and it makes for a special moment.
The single yellow chair in every venue represents the family members that can’t be there to support the servicemen and women competing in the games. It’s a symbol that even though they aren’t there physically, they’re there in spirit. That single yellow chair has deep meaning.
7. Achim Gasper With a Personal Best
Achim Gasper is a competitor for Team Germany. He was injured in 2015 and while he thought that was his darkest moment, he wasn’t about to let that stop him. Six years later, his home was destroyed in a devastating flood that saw water levels reach eight meters high in his home.
After going through the wreckage, he found his Invictus Games coin and it gave him hope. Not even one year later, Gasper was competing in the one-minute and four-minute rowing competitions. He finished 12th and 10th, but he did walk away with a rewarding personal best.
6. Gabriel Ramon Wins Silver in the Shot Put
Gabriel Ramon was an Airfield Defence Guard of the Royal Australian Air Force. He joined in 2015, was deployed to the Middle East in 2016, and was awarded the Commanding Officer’s Commendation for his excellence in the Combat Support Unit. He was discharged in 2019.
Three years later, he was competing in the Invictus Games and was coached by Rachel, an Invictus Games competitor in 2016. Ramon was competing in the athletics, powerlifting and indoor rowing events. He dedicated his silver medal in shot put to his late sister and father.
5. United States With the Wheelchair Rugby Title
Wheelchair rugby is one of the more exciting events to witness at the Invictus Games. It’s always an intense atmosphere that’s full of competition. Team USA played five matches on April 19th, winning four of them. Their only loss came in their first match to the United Kingdom.
They took their four-game winning streak into the Semi-Finals, defeating Australia with a score of 21-11. That’s when they met their rival, the UK, in the finals as they looked for revenge. It was a close game, but the United States pulled out a narrow 23-20 victory to claim the gold medal.
4. Michael Murphy Wins 1500m Gold Medal
Staff Sgt. Michael Murphy grew up watching the Olympics and Paralympics, so he knew how special it was to represent the United States at the 2022 Invictus Games. He’s an extremely patriotic American and took wearing the red, white, and blue very seriously during the Games.
Murphy is a visually-impaired blind athlete that competed in the 1500m athletics event. His guide, Josh Connell, helped direct him through the race, but it was Murphy’s resilience that earned him a gold medal in the event. He ran the 1500m in 5 minutes and 39 seconds.
3. Lisa Johnston Wins Shotput Gold Medal
Lisa Johnston, a competitor for Team United Kingdom, suffered an injury during a routine physical training session in 2014. It led to the development of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which resulted in her becoming an amputee in 2016. She wears a prosthetic.
Johnston was excited to compete in the Invictus Games and show her family that she can still find success in sport. She ended up winning the gold medal in Shot Put with a throw of 5.18 meters. The second place female threw it just 4.66 meters. She later got to hug Prince Harry.
2. Denmark Athlete Proposes, Girlfriend Says Yes!
Remember earlier when we said we weren’t done with the proposals – we weren’t joking. This proposal happened on the sixth day of the Invictus Games and shows just how powerful the games can be. Ironically, it was the second Denmark competitor to propose to their girlfriend.
It was Ronnie Tim Pederson that proposed to Mette Skjershede and don’t worry – she said YES! Pederson was competing in the powerlifting event. That’s when he got down on one knee, popped the question, and waited for her to say that magic word. Love was definitely in the air!
1. Prince Harry’s Closing Ceremony Speech
Our final awe-dropping moment from the Invictus Games was the final moment that brought it all together. On April 23rd during the closing ceremony, Prince Harry addressed the crowd of competitors, friends, and family. It was truly a special moment that captured the hearts of many.
“If your goal was to make your country proud, you’ve done it. If your goal was to make your family happy, you’ve achieved it. If your goal was a medal, a PB, or to merely finish the race, you’ve smashed it. And if your goal was to leave stronger than when you arrived, well, let’s hear it (crowd cheers),” said Prince Harry in his closing remarks.
When Are the Next Invictus Games?
The Invictus Games continues to adapt and evolve after a couple-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It returned to action this year and Prince Harry has already announced future plans for the games – which includes a trip to Düsseldorf, Germany next year (2023).
What’s even more surprising is the announcement of a winter sports edition of the Invictus Games – which will take place in Vancouver and Whistler in 2025. It’ll mark the second time the Invictus Games is being held in Canada, with the first installment being in Toronto in 2017.
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The Invictus Games are becoming a popular and rewarding competition for those injured in the line of combat. These men and women have faced the many horrors of war and foreign affairs, but are brought together as one for a week of sport, competition, camaraderie, and fellowship.
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