Injuries Cost These 13 Athletes a Fortune

Andrew Lisa
·6 min read
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chris Gardner/AP/Shutterstock (6499899a)Irvin Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin fields a pass for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of their game in PhiladelphiaNFL Hall of Famers, PHILADELPHIA, USA.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chris Gardner/AP/Shutterstock (6499899a)Irvin Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin fields a pass for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of their game in PhiladelphiaNFL Hall of Famers, PHILADELPHIA, USA.

One upside of professional athletics is that huge paychecks are part of the package. For those who play long enough, however, so, too, are injuries. Some players get hurt and bounce back quickly. Others suffer injuries that end their careers. Others get hurt and come back, but never at 100% of their former glory.

Using career statistics, award receptions and salary data from Spotrac where available, GOBankingRates created a list of athletes who were most affected by the injuries they suffered. It’s important to note that several athletes didn’t make the list who otherwise would have because reliable salary information before and after their injuries wasn’t available.

Among them were basketball stars Bernard King, Larry Johnson, Maurice Stokes, Pete Maravich and Ralph Sampson. Hockey greats like Bobby Orr would have made the list, as would football stars like Chris Spielman, Darryl Stingley, Earl Campbell, Gale Sayers, Joe Theisman, Reggie Brown and Sterling Sharpe. Readers might notice that tennis legend Maureen Connolly is missing, and in baseball, there’s Tony Conigliaro, all of whom could have made the list if not for a lack of clear salary data.

Keep reading to see more about the major pay these athletes lost out on.

Last updated: Nov. 2, 2020

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Reed Saxon/AP/Shutterstock (6572213a)Bo Jackson Running back Bo Jackson (34) of the Los Angeles Raiders carries the ball during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Los Angeles, CalifRaiders vs Chiefs Bo Jackson, Los Angeles, USA.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Reed Saxon/AP/Shutterstock (6572213a)Bo Jackson Running back Bo Jackson (34) of the Los Angeles Raiders carries the ball during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Los Angeles, CalifRaiders vs Chiefs Bo Jackson, Los Angeles, USA.

Bo Jackson

  • Sport: Football and baseball

  • Career length: 1987-90 (football), 1986-94 (baseball)

  • Injury year(s): 1990

  • Games before injury: 38 (football); 511 (baseball)

  • Money earned before injury: $4,218,544 (football); $2,660,000 (baseball)

  • Games after injury: 0 (football); 183 (baseball)

  • Money earned after injury: $0 (football); $4,614,833 (baseball)

  • Pre-injury accolades: Pro Bowl, All-Rookie (football); All-Star (baseball)

  • Post-injury accolades: N/A

  • Injuries: Hip-replacement surgery

PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 26:  Brandon Roy #7 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts to a shot against the Phoenix Suns on October 26, 2010 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon.
PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 26: Brandon Roy #7 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts to a shot against the Phoenix Suns on October 26, 2010 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon.

Brandon Roy

  • Sport: Basketball

  • Career length: 2006-11

  • Injury year(s): 2010-11

  • Games before injury: 321

  • Money earned before injury: $26,080,556

  • Games after injury: 5

  • Money earned after injury: $73,798,940

  • Pre-injury accolades: 3x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, All-Rookie, Rookie of the Year

  • Post-injury accolades: N/A

  • Injuries: Arthroscopic knee surgery on both knees, meniscus tear in right knee, lack of cartilage between bones in both knees

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paul Sancya/AP/Shutterstock (6028545cm)Daunte Culpepper Detroit Lions quarterback Daunte Culpepper throws against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter of an NFL football game in DetroitCardinals Lions Football, Detroit, USA.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paul Sancya/AP/Shutterstock (6028545cm)Daunte Culpepper Detroit Lions quarterback Daunte Culpepper throws against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter of an NFL football game in DetroitCardinals Lions Football, Detroit, USA.

Daunte Culpepper

  • Sport: Football

  • Career length: 1999-2009

  • Injury year(s): 2005

  • Games before injury: 81

  • Money earned before injury: $18,060,000

  • Games after injury: 24

  • Money earned after injury: $16,930,000

  • Pre-injury accolades: 3x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro

  • Post-injury accolades: N/A

  • Injuries: Knee, damaged three of the four major ligaments

Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose

  • Sport: Basketball

  • Career length: 2008-present

  • Injury year(s): 2012

  • Games before injury: 279

  • Money earned before injury: $21,182,522

  • Games after injury: 317

  • Money earned after injury: $133,869,091

  • Pre-injury accolades: MVP, 3x All-Star, All-NBA, All-Rookie

  • Post-injury accolades: N/A

  • Injuries: Knee injuries, torn ACL

Grant Hill

  • Sport: Basketball

  • Career length: 1994-2013

  • Injury year(s): 2000

  • Games before injury: 435

  • Money earned before injury: $28,684,122

  • Games after injury: 591

  • Money earned after injury: $112,324,422

  • Pre-injury accolades: 5x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, Rookie of the Year, All-Rookie

  • Post-injury accolades: 2x All-Star

  • Injuries: Broken ankle

Find Out: Which Athletes Earn the Most Per Hour?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Shutterstock (6225657a)Isaiah Thomas Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas is seen during media day at the Kings practice facility in Sacramento, CalifKings Thomas Basketball, Sacramento, USA.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Shutterstock (6225657a)Isaiah Thomas Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas is seen during media day at the Kings practice facility in Sacramento, CalifKings Thomas Basketball, Sacramento, USA.

Isaiah Thomas

  • Sport: Basketball

  • Career length: 2011-present

  • Injury year(s): 2017

  • Games before injury: 441

  • Money earned before injury: $23,914,451

  • Games after injury: 84

  • Money earned after injury: $10,610,902

  • Pre-injury accolades: 2x All-Star, All NBA, All-Rookie

  • Post-injury accolades: N/A

  • Injuries: Hip injury

Jay Williams

  • Sport: Basketball

  • Career length: 2002-03

  • Injury year(s): 2003

  • Games before injury: 75

  • Money earned before injury: $3,451,920

  • Games after injury: 0

  • Money earned after injury: $5,261,431

  • Pre-injury accolades: All-Rookie Second Team

  • Post-injury accolades: N/A

  • Injuries: Broken pelvis, torn ACL

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP/Shutterstock (6025639g)Johnny Knox Chicago Bears' Johnny Knox (13) returns the opening kickoff closes in during first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawksin ChicagoSeahawks Bears Football, Chicago, USA.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP/Shutterstock (6025639g)Johnny Knox Chicago Bears' Johnny Knox (13) returns the opening kickoff closes in during first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawksin ChicagoSeahawks Bears Football, Chicago, USA.

Johnny Knox

  • Sport: Football

  • Career length: 2009-11

  • Injury year(s): 2011

  • Games before injury: 45

  • Money earned before injury: $1,954,000

  • Games after injury: 0

  • Money earned after injury: N/A

  • Pre-injury accolades: Pro Bowl

  • Post-injury accolades: N/A

  • Injuries: Spinal cord injury

Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Swart/AP/Shutterstock (6542003a)Minnesota Twins Kirby Puckett (34) hits a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves in game three of the World Series, Atlanta, GaBraves vs Twins World Series 1991, Atlanta, USA.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Swart/AP/Shutterstock (6542003a)Minnesota Twins Kirby Puckett (34) hits a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves in game three of the World Series, Atlanta, GaBraves vs Twins World Series 1991, Atlanta, USA.

Kirby Puckett

  • Sport: Baseball

  • Career length: 1984-95

  • Injury year(s): 1995

  • Games before injury: 1,783

  • Money earned before injury: $29,600,000

  • Games after injury: 0

  • Money earned after injury: $13,400,000

  • Pre-injury accolades: 10x All-Star, 2x World Series Champion, 6x Gold Glove, 6x Silver Slugger, ALCS MVP

  • Post-injury accolades: N/A

  • Injuries: Broken jaw, glaucoma

Read More: Lessons To Live By From 13 Rags-to-Riches Athletes

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chris Gardner/AP/Shutterstock (6499899a)Irvin Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin fields a pass for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of their game in PhiladelphiaNFL Hall of Famers, PHILADELPHIA, USA.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chris Gardner/AP/Shutterstock (6499899a)Irvin Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin fields a pass for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of their game in PhiladelphiaNFL Hall of Famers, PHILADELPHIA, USA.

Michael Irvin

  • Sport: Football

  • Career length: 1988-99

  • Injury year(s): 1999

  • Games before injury: 159

  • Money earned before injury: $17,951,400

  • Games after injury: 0

  • Money earned after injury: N/A

  • Pre-injury accolades: 5x Pro Bowl, All-Pro, 3x Super Bowl Champion

  • Post-injury accolades: N/A

  • Injuries: Cervical spinal cord injury

Phoenix Suns guard Anfernee Hardaway splits the defense of Los Angeles Lakers forward A.
Phoenix Suns guard Anfernee Hardaway splits the defense of Los Angeles Lakers forward A.

Anfernee 'Penny' Hardaway

  • Sport: Basketball

  • Career length: 1993-2007

  • Injury year(s): 1997 (first)

  • Games before injury: 319

  • Money earned before injury: $25,014,000

  • Games after injury: 385

  • Money earned after injury: $95,465,007

  • Pre-injury accolades: 3x All-Star, 3x All-NBA, All-Rookie

  • Post-injury accolades: 1 All-Star

  • Injuries: Four left knee surgeries, microfracture knee surgery

Terrell Davis

  • Sport: Football

  • Career length: 1995-2001

  • Injury year(s): 1999

  • Games before injury: 65

  • Money earned before injury: $14,257,000

  • Games after injury: 13

  • Money earned after injury: $4,650,000

  • Pre-injury accolades: MVP, 2x Super Bowl Champ, Super Bowl MVP, 3x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 2x OPY

  • Post-injury accolades: N/A

  • Injuries: Torn right ACL and MCL, arthroscopic surgery on both knees, stress reaction in lower left leg

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sipa/Shutterstock (793733a)Yao Ming of China attacks under the basket during the Men's Quarterfinal basketball match - China and LithuaniaThe 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China - 20 Aug 2008.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sipa/Shutterstock (793733a)Yao Ming of China attacks under the basket during the Men's Quarterfinal basketball match - China and LithuaniaThe 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China - 20 Aug 2008.

Yao Ming

  • Sport: Basketball

  • Career length: 2003-11

  • Injury year(s): 2005-08

  • Games before injury: 404

  • Money earned before injury: $44,255,361

  • Games after injury: 82

  • Money earned after injury: $49,134,975

  • Pre-injury accolades: 6x All-Star, 4x All-NBA, All-Rookie

  • Post-injury accolades: 2x All-Star, All-NBA

  • Injuries: Stress fracture in left foot, hairline fracture in left foot, fractured left ankle

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Methodology: For this piece GOBankingRates used Complex Sports’ “The 25 Greatest Sports Careers Ruined by Injury” and Bleacher Report’s “25 of the Worst Career Ending Injuries in Sports” as a jumping off point to find 29 athletes whose careers were derailed by injury. For each athlete selected, GOBankingRates found the following factors: (1) sport played; (2) career length; (3) injury year(s); (4) games played before injury; (5) money earned before injury (when available); (6) games played after injury; (7) money earned after injury (when available); (8) pre-injury accolades/awards; (9) post-injury accolades/awards; and (10) type of injury. All factors were sourced from Spotrac, Basketball Reference, Baseball Reference, Hockey Reference, and Pro Football Reference. All data is up to date as of Nov. 2, 2020.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Injuries Cost These 13 Athletes a Fortune