Chuck Pagano and Other Sports Figures Who Faced Serious Illnesses

Yahoo Contributor Network

Chuck Pagano, the head coach for the Indianapolis Colt, got his name in headlines around the country on Monday, October 1, 2012. It was unfortunately not for his great work coaching but rather for the fact that he will be stepping down for at least a few games so that he can undergo treatments for acute promyelocytic leukemia. He is optimistic about his chances of recovery but, for this season, he needs to focus on beating the leukemia. The team took a couple of days off and returned to practice on Wednesday, October 3. Pagano is not the only sports figure to make bigger headlines for an illness than for his or her athletic or coaching career. Here is a look at five other sports figures who may better be remembered for the illnesses or disabilities they fought rather than their contributions to sports.

Lou Gehrig

Though Lou Gehrig could be considered one of the best and most dedicated players in baseball history, it is his iconic farewell address that will be remembered for generations to come. The player was forced to retire from baseball after he discovered he suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis which would become best known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He gave a heartfelt farewell speech in 1939 that brought rivals back together and touched most who were listening that day or have listened since that day.

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson was one of the top basketball players in the 1980s and early 1990s. It came as a shock when he announced to the world in 1991 that he had HIV and would be retiring. Though he wound up retiring after a trip to the Olympic Games the next year, he has worked hard in the more than 20 years since his diagnosis to bring awareness of the true nature of the disease and to raise money to find a cure for it.

Greg Louganis

Greg Louganis was one of the United States' best divers in the 1980s. In a horrific looking accident, Louganis hit his head on the board while diving. Though there was some blood in the pool, a doctor stitched his wound and he was going to be fine. He later revealed that, at the time of the accident, he was HIV positive. He had not informed the doctor, or anyone else, of the status.

Chris Klug

In 1993, Chris Klug was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitits. After spending approximately seven years waiting, the professional snowboarder finally received a lifesaving liver transplant in 2000 and just two years later he was ready to compete in Salt Lake City, Utah. He won a bronze medal in 2002.

Pat Summitt

In August of 2011, Pat Summitt shocked college basketball fans around the country when she announced that she had Alzheimer's disease. Summitt, a former women's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, is just 59. Before she became a coach, she was a basketball player who competed in high school, college and at the Olympics. She spent almost 40 years as the head coach for the Lady Volunteers and amassed an incredible record of 1,098-208.

Though Kristin Watt is not a fan of all sports, she does follow the news on most sports religiously. Major news events in sport do tend to ripple out to others and she makes sure that she never misses the big stories.

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