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By RanterX

10 Athletes Who Overcame Serious Illnesses

Joffrey Lupul
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

In sports, fans often see athletes overcome unthinkable hurdles to achieve great things. The following 10 athletes faced serious obstacles off the playing field, overcoming them to return and play at the highest level of their sport.

10. Jake Gibb

Jake Gibb
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10. Jake Gibb

Jake Gibb
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Jake Gibb was suspended from volleyball after failing a routine drug test, only to see a doctor and find that the abnormally high levels of hormones in his system were not due to steroids, but testicular cancer. After having surgery to remove the cancer, Jake did not need chemotherapy and was able to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

9. Venus Williams

Venus Williams
Anthony Grupposo-USA TODAY Sports

9. Venus Williams

Venus Williams
Anthony Grupposo-USA TODAY Sports

Venus Williams, the longtime dominant tennis champion, withdrew from the U.S. Open in 2011 due to her diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder which causes fatigue and joint pain. She didn't compete at a competitive level for the rest of the year, but eventually returned and continued to play.

8. Saku Koivu

Saku Koivu
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

8. Saku Koivu

Saku Koivu
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Saku Koivu was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma on September 6, 2011 after six seasons in the NHL. He missed most of the 2001-02 season, but came back for the last few games. He was then awarded the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy for his courage and off-ice team leadership.

7. Joffrey Lupul

Joffrey Lupul
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

7. Joffrey Lupul

Joffrey Lupul
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After a couple productive seasons in the NHL, Joffrey Lupul collided with a teammate and suffered a spinal cord contusion on January 5, 2008. In 2009, Lupul would go on to have back surgery, but then suffered from a blood infection which caused him to miss 12 months of play. He returned and continues to play in the NHL.

6. John Kruk

John Kruk
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

6. John Kruk

John Kruk
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

During Spring Training in 1994 with the Philadelphia Phillies, John Kruk was hit in the groin on an errant throw by his teammate. While being examined, a doctor discovered a cancerous tumor in his testicle. The testicle was removed, and Kruk fully recovered to continue playing baseball.

5. Billy Mayfair

Billy Mayfair
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

5. Billy Mayfair

Billy Mayfair
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Billy Mayfair has won five events on the PGA tour. In July 2006, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had surgery to remove it in August. He still continues to play on the PGA tour.

4. Eric Shanteau

Eric Shanteau
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

4. Eric Shanteau

Eric Shanteau
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

In 2008, Eric Shanteau was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Despite the diagnosis, Shanteau competed in the 2008 Olympic Swimming Trials, placing second in the 200-meter breaststroke and guaranteeing himself a spot on the Olympic team. He went on to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Upon returning, he had surgery to remove his cancerous testicle and is now in remission.

3. Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

3. Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In the world of hockey, Mario Lemieux is well known as one of the best players to ever play the game. In January of 1993, however, whether or not Lemieux would ever play hockey again was in question. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, having to miss two months of play while undergoing radiation treatment. When he came back, he finished the season and won his second scoring title.

2. Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong
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2. Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong
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Perhaps one of the most well known athletes to recover from a serious illness, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer. The cancer had spread to his brain, lungs and abdomen, and it was thought he had very little chance of survival. After surgery on his testicle and his brain, he was declared cancer-free.

1. Josh Bidwell

Josh Bidwell
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1. Josh Bidwell

Josh Bidwell
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Josh Bidwell was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1999, but was then diagnosed with testicular cancer that September. After surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy, Tidwell went on to win back his punting job on the Packers.

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