4 Pro Athletes Whose Careers Could've Been Saved With Sports Recovery Treatments

In reality sports is... mostly depressing, actually. Most teams lose. You watch youth fade in real time, in often devastating ways. We'd all be better off, in terms of happiness, if our society was more into, like, musicals or something. 

Even for the athletes who get paid millions, sports can be brutally depressing. When discussing the potential for success, possessing the talent to become a top-tier athlete is only part of the equation. In fact, it takes extreme caution, customized workout routines, and knowledgeable recovery to maintain the necessary (and safe) momentum to reach maximum potential. Without this conscious attention to health and safety, an athlete’s career could be lost in a single, heartbreaking moment. Here are a few examples of when a promising athlete lost everything due to an injury.


Bill Walton

During his time at UCLA in the 70s, Walton led his team to an astonishing 88-game winning streak. He won the Naismith Trophy three times in 1972, 1972, and 1974 - and became the Number 1 NBA draft pick in 1974. After being drafted by the Portland Trailblazers that year, Walton became a quick favorite and, by his third season, was named the NBA Finals MVP. At the height of his career, repeated foot and ankle injuries caused Walton to steadily decline from the spotlight, appearing in less and less games until retiring in 1990. At least now he has the most brilliant color commentary career of all time. 


Sandy Koufax

Koufax pitched for the Dodgers for 12 seasons, with his career peaking from 1961 to 1966. He was an All-Star for six seasons, and the league MVP in 1963. He won three Cy Young Awards in 1963, 1965, and 1966 and became the first person in the MLB to throw a no-hitter four times. During the final years of his career, Koufax ignored increasing pain in his elbow and tried to fight through it, sometimes waking up with an entire bruised arm due to hemorrhaging. Arthritis continued to develop in his left pitching arm, and Koufax’s career ended too soon.


Penny Hardaway

Hardaway was becoming a fan-favorite and a promising Hall of Famer during his time with the Orlando Magic. As a dynamic point guard, Hardaway was a double threat alongside Shaquille O’Neal for the 1994 - 1997 seasons. A tragic left knee injury in the 1997-98 NBA season saw Hardaway missing the remainder of the season for surgery and recovery. Hardaway went on to play in the NBA for several more years, during which time he sustained several more microfractures in his knee. He has been criticized for attempting a comeback too early after the first surgery, and his career was never the same.


Daunte Culpepper

Leading the Vikings through several NFL seasons, Culpepper appeared to be a quarterback on the rise in the early 2000s. He was a Pro Bowler in 2000 and 2003, and in 2004 had his most impressive season with the Vikings in which he threw 4,717 yards and completed nearly 70 percent of his passes. The next season, at only 28, Culpepper sustained a serious knee injury in which he tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL. He was traded to the Dolphins in 2006, but never fully recovered from his serious injury.

Laura Brull