Top 10 Worst Sports Injuries In History

Tags: #Injury ,   #SportsInjury ,   #KevinDurant

Dan N. Scarborough

Dan N. Scarborough

Last updated:  2023-05-23 15:03:18

Sport is an activity that doesn't guarantee any success. Yet, what it does guarantee are injuries. Therefore, almost every athlete had to deal with it at one moment or another. Luckily, most aren't severe and will knock back the athletes for a couple of days or weeks. However, the injuries in this list are so harsh they greatly affect their careers, sometimes ending them. This is the top ten list of the worst injuries that significantly shortened or even ended sports careers.

10. Kevin Durant — Torn Achilles' Tendon 

His Achilles heel was the Achilles tendon

There have been many torn Achilles' tendons in the history of the NBA, but this one is probably the most important. Kevin Durant missed nine games in a row due to a calf strain, and the Warriors were trailing 3-1 in the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. Naturally, Durant felt obligated to return to the line-up. 

Unfortunately, just 12 minutes into the game, Durant pushed off his already injured leg, and his Achilles tendon just gave away. This injury had very severe consequences for both Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors. Durant skipped two seasons, and the Warriors didn't make a comeback in the finals.

9. Joe Theismann — Compound Fracture of Leg 

The final tackle of his career was also the hardest

Joe Theismann was tackled down 340 times in his career, and the last one ended his career. During a flea-flicker for the Redskins, Theismann was moving up in the pocket to throw the ball. However, Lawrence Taylor pulled Theismann's shoulders and drove his knee right into Theismann's lower leg. Ultimately, this ferocious impact broke Theismann's tibia and fibula. 

By the words of Theismann himself, the pain was unbearable, and the impact sounded like two gunshots. Taylor frantically signaled for the medical staff to enter the field, who managed to save Theismann's leg. However, the bone growth was insufficient, which caused Theismann to retire at the age of 36.

8. David Robinson — Concussion Via Karl Malone's Elbow 

Another victim of Karl Malone's elbow

Karl Malone had a reputation as someone who likes to deliver deadly elbows to fellow Hall of Fame inductees. Earlier in his career, he elbowed Isaiah Thomas so hard he needed 40 stitches. However, the elbow he gave to David Robinson was especially harmful. While defending his basket zone, Karl Malone rotated and accidentally hit the temple of David Robinson. 

The strike was so terrific it looked like something taken straight out of Muay Thai. Robinson was knocked out cold on his feet and crumpled on the floor face first. He was unconscious for two whole minutes and spent the night in the hospital. Malone visited Robinson right after the game. He was still fined and suspended despite being ruled out as an accident.

7. Mickey Mantle — Torn ACL 

Fatal interaction with Joe DiMaggio affected the rookie's career

We're going vintage for this one, as it happened in 1951. Mickey Mantle was a 19-year-old rookie in the 1951 World Series. It is still arguable what kind of injury Mantle suffered, but it was for sure that it changed his career for the worse. While chasing after a fly ball in the outfield, Mantle stumbled over a sprinkler head and severely injured his knee. 

Since medicine in the 50s wasn't so advanced, it is still uncertain whether it was a torn ACL, torn meniscus, or torn cartilage. Mantle played for two more seasons before surgery, and 15 more after it, being in pain for every game. Interestingly, Mantle tried to avoid a collision with Joe DiMaggio in his last game. It was the last time these two Yankee legends played together.

6. Mick Foley — Ear Torn Off 

Mick Foley did Vincent van Gogh in one of the matches

The career of Mick Foley is one long string of catastrophic injuries. Although professional wrestling is scripted, all falls and injuries are real. Mick Foley has had a lot of characters he played. While he was Cactus Jack in a match against Big Van Vader, he sustained the worst injury in his career. 

Foley got his head entangled between two ropes, which was bad enough by itself. While he tried to set himself free, he split his ear. During the following exchange, Vader hit Foley's ear, which fell off. Instead of having surgery to reattach it, Foley went on to become WCW Tag Team Champion.

5. Jessica Dube — Face Slashed by Blade of Skate 

The fateful collision of skate and face

Ice skating isn't a sport associated with heavy injuries, but there's a reason why skating shoes are called blades. The most horrific example of an injury caused by a skate happened during a competition in Colorado Springs in 2007. Jessica Dube and her partner Bryce Davison got too close during the horizontal spin. 

The skate slashed Dube's face, and she fell down in pain. She was rushed to the hospital for surgery to repair her facial structure. There were no other major injuries, but both Dube and Davison had to be treated for PTSD. After they recovered, they continued skating together.

4. Tony Saunders — Fractured Arm 

The baseball pitcher broke the same arm twice

Despite the popularity of baseball in the States, it is pretty evident that the human body isn't built to throw high-velocity pitches over and over again. Unfortunately, Tony Saunders realized that fact in the most horrific way. During a 3-2 pitch to Juan Gonzalez, Saunders's arm gave away and snapped. 

The horrible sound echoed through Tropicana Field as Saunders fell down in pain. Turns out Saunders broke his humerus bone and tore his ligaments. Thankfully, Saunders didn't require surgery because doctors could affix his bone without an operation. However, he broke the same arm the following year during rehab and sadly ended his career at 26.

3. Rudy Tomjanovich — Broken Face Via Kermit Washington 

The punch that changed the NBA rules

This is one of the most infamous punches in NBA history. It is also one of the main reasons new regulations were made to limit physical contact between players. At one moment, a fight between the Rockets and Washington's Lakers broke out, involving numerous players. Rudy T ran to stop the conflict, but Kermit Washington saw him, turned around, and punched him. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar later said the punch sounded like a melon being dropped on concrete. Rudy collapsed on the floor and started bleeding from his head. He broke his skull, nose, and jaw, had a concussion, and even leaked the spinal fluid in his mouth. Once he woke up, he wondered if the scoreboard fell on him. Rudy was out for the rest of the season before making a full recovery. 

2. Clint Malarchuk — Neck Artery Severed by Blade of Skate 

The hockey game almost took a life

There are bad injuries, career-ending injuries, and Clint Malarchuk, who got his throat slashed in the middle of the game. One of the most gruesome injuries ever took place in 1989. Malarchuk collided with another player in front of his goal, and the skate made contact with his throat. 

Malarchuk's carotid artery was severed, and he started losing massive amounts of blood. Several fans in attendance fainted, two suffered heart attacks, and some of the players vomited on the ice. The athletic trainer of Malarchuk's team saved his life by clipping his artery. The unfortunate goalkeeper lost 1.5 liters of blood, and it took 300 stitches to seal his wound. However, he came back on the ice just ten days later.

1. Samantha Cerio — Broke Both Legs on Gymnastics Routine 

Just one degree makes the difference

Gymnastics is absolutely riddled with terrible injuries, and there are many ways to get hurt by doing gymnastic routines. However, nothing will top Samantha Cerio and her bone-crunching injury on landing. She was doing one of her routines on the mat and tried to finish with the 720 flips. Unfortunately, she failed the landing. 

The force of the flip went straight into the back of her knees, causing the dislocation of both kneecaps. Cerio shattered both knees and tore six ligaments. The doctor who operated on her said she was slightly hyperextended when she landed, and she was under-rotated by just one degree. Unfortunately, that was enough for the worst gymnast injury ever.

Injuries are very often in sports and may vary in how they affect the career. Most injuries are easily brushed off thanks to the extremely healthy physique of the athletes. However, some still leave long-lasting consequences on career and life. 

What injury made you cringe the hardest? Which injuries would you add to this top ten list?

Cover photo: blende12/Pixabay



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Zeith Says:

To anyone saying how wrestling is fake - just watch Mick Foley and tell me that's not dangerous or hard on your body. These guys are beasts, but he is on top.

November 23 at 03:48:38 PM

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