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15 Sports Moments in 2013 That Tugged At Our Heartstrings

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15 Sports Moments in 2013 That Left Us Teary-Eyed

Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

2013 in sports was an amazing year to say the least. We had plenty of incredible, heart-stopping moments that made us all question if what we just saw really happened. We had some rather strange storylines such as Manti Te'o's "girlfriend" and a few scandals rock the nation such as NASCAR's "SpinGate" in the final race to decide who made stock car racing's version of the playoffs. There were some records snapped, bones broken, dreams crushed and lifelong dreams realized.

It was also a year that featured some pretty emotional moments with athletes overcoming adversity that no one should ever have to deal with. There were also some kids battling life-threatening illnesses who got to have the time of their life with their favorite teams and players. We lost a few people along the way too. .

In this list, I go through 15 moments from 2013 that had us all teary-eyed and tugged at our heartstrings as the title suggests. Touching moments from the NFL, NHL, MLB, PGA, NBA, NCAA and four different forms of auto racing are all featured in this slideshow. Also, please keep in mind that there is no particular order to this list when clicking through it. Enjoy.

Nick DeGroot is a contributing writer For Rant Sports. Connect With Him on Twitter @ndegroot89

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15. Michael Waltrip Races in Honor of Newtown

NASCAR
Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary last December, everyone wanted to help the community of Newtown, Connecticut. NASCAR is famous for its charitable efforts, and it stepped up to help this mourning community. The most prominent thing the racing community did to reach out was when two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip decided to run a car covered in decals in support of Newtown. The car also featured information on how you can help. He ran the no. 26 in honor of the 20 children and six adults killed in the massacre. Not only did Waltrip make the race, but he led multiple laps in stock car racing's biggest event while families of the victims looked on from the pits.

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14. Charlie Coyle Makes a Young Fan's Day

Coyle
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This was a minor incident in the big scheme of things, but one that made everyone who saw it smile and the little boy that it involved as happy as can be. Charlie Coyle is a hockey player for the Minnesota Wild and as he stood off to the side in a game earlier this year, a little boy wearing Minnesota colors tried desperately to get his attention. He finally succeeded as Coyle turned in his direction and gave him a friendly wave. The young boy started to grin from ear-to-ear and jumped up and down in sheer excitement over the quick interaction between he and Coyle. It wasn't a major deal to the rest of us, but it will be something that the kid will remember for a very long time.

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13. Mariano Rivera Walks Off The Mound For The Final Time

MLB
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Mariano Rivera has been a member of the New York Yankees since 1995, but at the age of 43, his time as a MLB player came to an emotional end in September. He took the mound as a pitcher for the final time against the Tampa Bay Rays and did an admirable job. He was removed from the game in the ninth inning, but it wasn't Joe Girardi who led him off the mound. No, it was instead longtime teammates and friends Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte. He embraced his teammates for nearly a minute with tears filling up his eyes before he walked off the mound to a standing ovation from everyone in the stadium.

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12. Jason Bright Wins For His Fallen Friend and Celebrates With Mourning Family

V8Supercars
Twitter-@IJasonBright

Jason Richards was 35-years old when an aggressive form of cancer took his life in 2011. At the time of his diagnosis, he was a driver in the Australian V8 Supercar Series for Brad Jones Racing. His teammate Jason Bright went into the 2013 Auckland 400 with one thing on his mind: win the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy, and he succeeded. He hoisted the trophy while embracing Richards' widow and the two daughters he left behind. Everyone from Bright to the fans and the commentators had tears in their eyes during the celebration that many look at as the best moment of 2013 in Australian motorsport.

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11. Kevin Ware Returns and Instantly Makes His Presence Known

Ware
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

None of us will soon forget Kevin Ware's gruesome leg injury that occurred on national TV for all to see in March of this past year. He returned to the court in November and after a standing ovation from the crowd, he proceeded to quickly make his presence known. Just moments after joining the game, he planted a 3-pointer and enjoyed another standing ovation. He ended his impressive night back with six points and four rebounds to his credit.

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10. Jason Day Wins Handa Golf World Cup After Losing Eight Family Members

Golf
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Day is a professional golfer who took a family tragedy and used it as motivation instead of letting it destroy him. Following the deadly typhoon in the Philippines, Day was notified that eight members of his family, including his grandmother, were killed in the storm. Just a few weeks later, he won the Handa World Cup of Golf tournament, his first professional win since 2010.

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9. Make-A-Wish and Seattle Seahawks Make a Little Boy's Dream Come True

Seahawks
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Lee is a a 12-year-old who lives on the edge of death every day of his life. He was born without a left ventricle, and it's a miracle that he's survived as long as he has. His favorite football team has always been the Seattle Seahawks, and that team joined forces with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in order to give little Kevin the thrill of a lifetime. He got to spend a day with his favorite team, play some football against his favorite players and even wear his own jersey with his name across the back.

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8. Matt Kemp and His Teenage Friend Joshua Jones

Jones
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kemp is a MLB player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and earlier this year, he befriended a teenager by the name of Joshua Jones. After meeting him, the two immediately connected and a friendship was born. The terminally-ill Jones was happier than ever when he was with Kemp and just a few months later, he succumbed to his illness at the age of 19. It was a tragic end but because of Matt Kemp, it was one worth living for Joshua Jones.

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7. Tony Kanaan Finally Triumphs Over Indianapolis

Kanaan
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Kanaan has been trying to win the Indianapolis 500 for over a decade now and no matter how close he came to tasting the milk, the win eluded him. That all changed in 2013. Nine years ago, Kanaan had visited a young girl by the name of Andrea Brown who was in the hospital for a brain aneurysm. TK gave her a medal for good luck before her surgery, which went well. Prior to the running of the 2013 Indy 500, she mailed the medal back to him with a note that read, "here’s your good luck charm back. Now you take it and win the Indianapolis 500.” He did indeed win the race after an enthralling pass on Ryan Hunter-Reay and in victory lane, he pulled the good luck charm out of his fire suit and choked up as he thanked Andrea for sending it to him.

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6. Jarrod Lyle & His Battle With Leukemia

Lyle
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Jarrod Lyle battled leukemia as a teenager and all he could ever think about while lying in bed was golf. As soon as he recovered, he got back on the course and became a player at the PGA level in 2004. Last year, the leukemia returned but just like before, he persevered through it. His second comeback came at the 2013 Talisker Masters with tears of joy pouring down his face as thousands of fans cheered him on.

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5. Chicago Blackhawks' Letter To Boston Bruins

StanleyCup
Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Boston Bombings, the city rallied around their sports teams as they looked for something to cheer for. Although the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup, the letter they sent to the team after the victory is what awarded them a spot on this list. It was sportsmanship at its finest.

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4. D.J. Hayden Cheats Death

Hayden
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

D.J. Hayden was a college football player who was just having another normal practice session prior to the team's 10th game of the season. In a passing drill, he and a safety collided and the unthinkable happened. The safety's knee struck D.J. in his chest, and the violent hit tore the inferior vena cava in his heart. It's an injury rarely seen outside of high-speed car accidents and one that fewer than five percent survive. It is a miracle that he is alive and in fact doing very well. His determination to live despite this almost always fatal injury gained him national attention and NFL teams took notice. In the 2013 NFL draft, he was the selected in the first round as the 12th pick overall by the Oakland Raiders.

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3. Aston Martin Races On Following Allan Simonsen's Tragic Death

LeMans
Twitter-@AMR_Official

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the most prestigious races in the world and one that has taken the lives of many racers who went into the grueling event with dreams of victory. In 2013, Allan Simonsen was leading his class early on as a driver for Aston Martin Racing. He suddenly lost control and careened into the guard rail in Tertre Rouge. He died from injuries suffered in the crash and although the team wanted to immediately withdraw from the race, Simonsen's family begged them to race on. Later in the event, Aston Martin driver Frederic Makowiecki seemed to be on his way to victory before he suffered a violent crash as well. Thankfully, he escaped unscathed but walked away despondent and incredibly upset. Allan's fellow countrymen Tom Kristensen carried the torch for his fallen friend though and won the race overall. In a tearful post-race interview, he dedicated the win to his fellow Dane.

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2. Boston Strong

Boston
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Strong. That term has whole new meaning now. The phrase is a rallying cry that kept a city together after two explosions nearly tore it apart. It's a term chanted by a city shaken by a cowardly act of terrorism and a phrase worn on the uniforms of Boston's sports teams. Days after the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, thousands of fans came together at a Boston Bruins game and sang the national anthem in chorus. Over at Fenway Park, David Ortiz gave a powerful speech to the people of Boston. The Boston Red Sox went on to win the 2013 MLB World Series, their third since 2004.

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1. Jack Hoffman Runs The Best 69 Yards of His Life

Jack
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

This has my vote as most touching moment of 2013. Jack Hoffman is a seven-year old boy living with brain cancer. He has always been a fan of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and his father inquired to the team about possibly letting Jack meet his favorite player, Rex Burkhead. He got a lot more than that though. After the team got to know him, Jack became an inspiration to the the players and they used his story as motivation every time they were having a rough day on the field. During a game this past spring, they equipped young Jack with a helmet, gear and a Cornhuskers outfit as he prepared to take the field. With the entire team chasing after him, Jack Hoffman ran with the ball in hand and scored a 69-yard touchdown in a moment that made grown men cry.