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8 Inspiring Pro Athletes

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Inspire.

A simple word with a powerful meaning: filling someone with the confidence and desire to do something.

When you hear the word “inspiring”, what comes to mind? Maybe like us, you think of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

That’s why we decided to make a list of athletes who not only entertain, but also inspire.

Whether they are competing on the football field, in the ring, on the track, or on the baseball field, they have each proven to be an inspiration to many.

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1. Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow during the game between the Florida Gators and the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida.
Tim Tebow during the game between the Florida Gators and the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Photo Credit: Rob Foldy / Getty Images)

The man of many talents.

Tebow is not only well known for his athletic talent, but also for his faith on and off the field. It’s no secret he’s willing to serve the Lord and love people. Sounds a little bit like Mark 12:30-31: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

He’s an inspiration to many because of his athletic talent, faith, and numerous acts of kindness. He also started the Tim Tebow Foundation with a mission to bring faith, hope, and love to those who deserve a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.

A true inspiration to many. Keep it up, Tebow!

2. Shaquem Griffin

Linebacker Shaquem Griffin #18 from Central Florida
MOBILE, AL – JANUARY 27: Linebacker Shaquem Griffin #18 from Central Florida on the South Team is being blocked by Tackle Brett Toth #78 from Amy-West Point on the North Team during the 2018 Resse’s Senior Bowl game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on January 27, 2018 in Mobile, Alabama. The South defeated the North 45 to 16. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) Shaquem Griffin; Brett Toth

Griffin, a hardworking (and incredibly fast) football player who was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, has achieved a lot in his football career. And guess what? He did all of it without a left hand, and he’s certainly proved that having one hand is not a problem for him.

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“I don’t see it as a handicap and I have never looked at it that way,” Griffin says. “I hope I am an inspiration for people, to see I can do whatever I want. I haven’t seen anything I couldn’t do. I’m never going to let someone put a label on me.”

There’s no doubt he has inspired many, especially those with missing limbs.

We’re more than excited to see you play in the NFL, Griffin!

3. Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits a foul ball
Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits a foul ball against the Toronto Blue Jays in the second inning at Angel Stadium on June 22, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

Have you heard his story? Inspiring, no doubt.

Pujols grew up inspired by his father who was a well-known pitcher throughout the Dominican Republic. Years later, he would find himself following in his father’s footsteps and dreaming of a career in the majors.

Growing up his family lived in poor conditions, and after moving to the United States at 16, hoping for a better life, Pujols quickly found his way back to baseball. People told him he wouldn’t make it, but Pujols proved himself an inspiring, successful baseball player. Today he is a first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels.

After finding his faith and marrying his sweetheart, Deidre, they founded the Pujols Family Foundation. Their mission is “To live and share our commitment to faith, family and others. To promote awareness, provide hope and meet tangible needs for children and families who live with Down syndrome. To improve the standard of living and quality of life for impoverished people in the Dominican Republic through education, medical relief, and tangible goods. To provide extraordinary experiences for children with disabilities and/or life-threatening illnesses.”

You are doing great things, Pujols!

4. Nick Newell

Mixed martial artist Nick Newell arrives at the sixth annual Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards at The Palazzo Las Vegas on February 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mixed martial artist Nick Newell arrives at the sixth annual Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards at The Palazzo Las Vegas on February 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Newell is a professional mixed-martial artist from Milford, Connecticut, who fights in the lightweight division. He’s been leading by example, inspiring the lives of many, and making the most of what he can offer as a congenital amputee in a sport that can tend to be unforgiving of any limitations.

Having watched pro wrestling growing up, he decided to join the wrestling team in high school, becoming Connecticut’s best wrestler and eventually landing a career as a UFC fighter.

Newell certainly didn’t let his lack of physical features get in the way of his goals in life.

“Being different and only having one hand was never something I asked for. But it’s never something that I let bother me or stop me from doing anything I want to do.” Nick Newell said. “For me, my goal has always been just to try hard, train smart, and be the best version of myself that I could possibly be.”

Wise words, Newell.

5. Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros scores on a double by Evan Gattis #11 in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on June 27, 2018 in Houston, Texas.
Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros scores on a double by Evan Gattis #11 in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on June 27, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Have you seen him play? Incredible.

As of 2017, Altuve is the shortest active MLB player listed at 5 feet 6 inches. His size was something that stood in his way when it came to baseball. Once ignored by MLB, the superstar has proven that size doesn’t matter.

“Obviously, the underdog story is very real whether it’s the story of him getting signed, becoming an All-Star or everybody referencing his size,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch says. “But the growth that he’s established… people don’t talk about his size anymore. They talk about his ability and his production. They talk about him being a middle-of-the-order bat.”

The American League MVP front-runner has been an inspiration to many and has proven that size and stature shouldn’t get in the way of your dreams.

We look up to you, Altuve!

6. Paige VanZant

Paige VanZant celebrates defeating Felice Herrig in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Prudential Center on April 18, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey.
Paige VanZant celebrates defeating Felice Herrig in their women’s strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Prudential Center on April 18, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

VanZant has accomplished a lot in life, including becoming an American mixed-martial artist, appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” and “Chopped,” and becoming an author of her first book, “Rise: Surviving the Fight of my Life.”

She’s also been through a lot, and it’s been a major driving force behind her decision to pursue martial arts and have the ability defend herself.

In high school, VanZant was a victim of gang rape, followed by regular bullying by a group of girls. Now, she wants to use her platform to raise awareness and help girls who have been in similar situations.

“It almost makes it feel like everything I went through was worth it,” VanZant said. “Like I went through it for a purpose. Once this book comes out, if it changes someone’s life, then what I went through wasn’t meaningless, it wasn’t something terrible. It wasn’t a tragedy. It was something beautiful and it’s gonna be good and it’s gonna help people.”

You’re truly an amazing woman, Paige!

7. Ben Heller

Ben Heller #61 of the New York Yankees looks in before delivering a pitch in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 23, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Ben Heller #61 of the New York Yankees looks in before delivering a pitch in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 23, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Heller’s baseball career started when he was in high school, but it’s probably not the story you’d expect from the New York Yankees baseball pitcher.

“In high school I wasn’t really that good. I wasn’t drafted and I didn’t really have any college offers at all out of high school besides Olivet.”

Wanting to attend a university where he could continue playing baseball, he decided to take the scholarship offer from the Christian university, Olivet Nazarene.

“I went there hoping to play and enjoy my time, and I just worked hard and got a lot better during college.”

That he did.

“My faith is very important to me, so I feel extremely blessed that I’m even able to come to this organization and have this opportunity to be in the Yankees organization. It’s a huge blessing. It’s pretty awesome.”

You continue to inspire others with your story, talent, and faith, Heller!

8. Boris Berian

Boris Berian of the United States competes in the Men's 800 Metres Final during day three of the IAAF World Indoor Championships at Oregon Convention Center on March 19, 2016 in Portland, Oregon.
Boris Berian of the United States competes in the Men’s 800 Metres Final during day three of the IAAF World Indoor Championships at Oregon Convention Center on March 19, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Run Boris run!

Berian was serving burgers and fries at a McDonald’s in Colorado Springs to support himself while he trained solo in his spare time. Once a student at Adams State University, Berian parted ways with the university to focus on what he believed he could accomplish.

His friends and family had their doubts about him doing something big with running, but he proved them wrong. He won gold at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships in the 800 meters and competed the race at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“Really, I was just excited to be representing USA,” Berian said after his race. “The hard work I’ve been going through has definitely been paying off.”

He certainly is an inspiration to those who have big dreams that seem impossible to others.

Keep running after those dreams, Berian.

 

This list is certainly not complete, as there are many, many more inspiring athletes with incredible stories.

What athlete can you think of that is an inspiration to others? Let us know on Facebook!

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