The Hurt Locker

Some of the Worst Injuries We’ve Seen in Sports

Aaron Pellican

In sports, we see injuries all of the time.  From twisted ankles to getting poked in the eye we normally only see the less serious injuries, every game common injuries.  However, every once in a while we witness some of the most excruciating and gut wrenching injuries appear live right on our screen at home.  

Injuries of this brutal nature are more so expected due to the physicality of sports such as football, hockey, and rugby, but are also just as common in sports which involve much less contact.  Some of sports most brutal injuries have been non-contact. The bone-snapping, muscle ripping, and heart stopping injuries sports fans have endured are so impactful that fans can conversate about where they were when it happened as if it was a historical event, like, “Where were you when JFK got shot?”.  

For sports fans, these injuries are one of the few things which can spark this type of conversation.  

Some injuries are simply hard to watch.  You can always tell something is wrong by the tone of the announcers’ voices.  Their voices immediately go to a tone of genuine concern.

Injuries such as those to Joe Theisman, a completely broken leg which ended his career, the completely severed finger of Hall of Fame defender Ronnie Lott, or Teddy Bridgewater’s imploding leg were not captured well by the rolling cameras.  

In some more unfortunate cases, it is obvious when something has gone terribly wrong as the camera is in the right place at the wrong time.  Former Bears receiver Johnny Knox gruesomely broke a vertebrae on live TV and every single camera had a different angle on it.

Last year, it was opening night in the NBA, and the new look Boston Celtics were ready to make waves with their newly acquired faces of the franchise Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.  But within the opening minutes of the contest, Hayward was upended by LeBron James and Tristan Thompson on his way to the hoop for an alley oop. When Hayward hit the floor there was no denying the impact was louder than normal.  The camera went to a floor shot of Hayward, only, with the aid of the announcers, to reveal that Hayward’s ankle was completely broken and pointing in the opposite direction it normally would be.

This moment was captured live on TNT, and was seen by millions across the nation and even internationally.  It resembled the injuries of other NBA and NCAA basketball player such as Paul George, Shaun Livingston, and Kevin Ware.  George also snapped his leg in the middle of his tibia on live TV during a USA basketball scrimmage which was televised on ESPN.

George was hustling back in transition defense to stop a fast break score.  He attempted to block the shot and he landed at the base of the basketball hoop in just the wrong way, forcing his leg to snap.  The injury was so bad and left a mark on everybody in the arena, that the contest was stopped after the injury.

Shuan Livingston experienced a much similar break to Paul George’s.  Livingston was playing for the LA Clippers early in his career. Livingston had built up a lot of hype for himself prior to reaching the NBA, and his career was changed forever after he snapped his leg trying to finish a fast break layup.  After getting a steal on one end, Livingston was home free to the hoop if he could only outrun one defender who was trailing Livingston on his way to the hoop. Livingston layed the ball up but avoided the contact from the defender that his body was clearly expecting.  He landed normally but his leg completely gave out, resulting in the clean break of his leg. Livingston immediately began screaming and the entire building knew something terrible was wrong. Livingston, along with George and Hayward experience terribly long rehab processes but eventually returned to the game.

This wasn’t the case for former Louisville guard Kevin Ware who famously completely shattered his leg during the NCAA March Madness tournament by simply jumping to contest a shot.  The camera perfectly captured the bone sticking out of Ware’s leg and multiple replays were even shown. Ware never found his way back to basketball success but fought his way back from the injury.  These are only some of a list of injuries which only gets more and more brutal.