As long as sports have been around comebacks have been romanticized. Many fallen heroes past transgressions are forgotten when they return to do battle again.
In some cases, our fallen heroes have regressed and returned more than once. Andre Agassi, Michael Jordan, and Muhammad Ali are examples of athletes that have left their sports and returned with success multiple times.
Their perseverance, determination and grit are why all of these athletes are the legends of their sports. They go as far back as Maximus Decimus Meridius' comeback during Roman times.
This week, the comeback will be the dominant discussion in the news and on sports talk shows everywhere. Baseball makes its return for the 2010 season and, of course, how will Tiger do in Augusta?
(Based on real-life MLB Player and shooting victim Eddie Waitkus)
Sixteen years after being shot, Hobbs returned to gain his spot in the Major Leagues. His hitting became the stuff of legend and he is dubbed "The Natural."
Waitkus is the player that the Natural is based on. He was shot by a crazed fan during the 1949 season. Because of the shooting, Waitkus only played in 54 games in 1949.
He returned in 1950 and hit .284 with four HRs and 44 RBI. Waitkus finished the 1950 season second in plate appearances and at bats, fifth in hits, sixth in runs scored, and ninth in doubles.
Albert was ousted from NBC after being convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery charges in 1997. Bob Costas took over Albert's NBA duties and Tom Hammond replaced him for football.
Albert returned to announce the 2000-01 and 2001-02 NBA seasons for NBC before ABC reacquired the broadcast rights to the NBA.
Kerr dealt with tragedy after his father was murdered while the President of American University in Beirut.
He had to deal with more adversity while playing point guard for the American team during the World Championships in the summer of 1986. Kerr tore the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in his knee.
The injury would cause Kerr to miss the entire 1986-87 college basketball season.
Kerr's injury would prove to be a blessing in disguise for Kerr's college and national team coach Lute Olson. Sophomores Sean Elliott, Anthony Cook and Kerr's replacement Kenny Lofton all had another year to learn under Olson and grow before welcoming Kerr back.
After finishing second in the Pac-10 in 1987, the Wildcats brought everyone back during Kerr's comeback season in 1987-88.
Kerr returned to his point guard spot and Lofton backed him up. Kerr averaged 12.6 PPG, 3.9 APG, and 1.2 SPG. He shot an astounding 57 percent from three-point range, 56 percent from the field and 82.4 percent from the line.
The Wildcats had arguably their greatest season ever. They finished 35-3 and advanced to the school's first Final Four.
The injury never seemed to bother Kerr again. He played on two Spurs Championship teams and three straight Bulls titles from 1996-98. His shot with five second remaining won the title for the Bulls in '97.
Leslie has been the WNBA's biggest star since its inaugural season in 1997. Leslie took off the 2007 season after giving birth to her first child.
She returned for the 2008 season and averaged 15.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG and 2.9 BPG for the Los Angeles Sparks.
Williams began his career by becoming one of the first stars of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He led them to two division titles before leaving for the USFL.
After four years away from the NFL, Williams returned after the USFL folded. He was recruiting to be a backup for the Washington Redskins by his offensive coordinator in Washington, Joe Gibbs.
In 1987, after Redskins starter Jay Schroeder battled injuries during the season, Gibbs named Williams the starter for the Playoffs.
The Redskins won Super Bowl XXII and Williams became the first African-American quarterback to be named MVP.
Henin shocked the Tennis world when she abruptly retired from tennis while ranked No. 1and just 25 years old on May 14, 2008.
Henin confirmed she would return to competitive tennis on Sept. 22, 2009.
Just like her Belgian compatriot Kim Clijsters, Henin reached the finals of her first Grand Slam in her comeback. Henin fell to world No. 1 Serena Williams 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the Australian Open.
She won her first big tournament since her comeback by dominating Venus Williams to capture the Sony Ericsson in Miami in April.
After five years away from the sidelines, Ditka returned to coach the Saints in 1997. Not all comebacks have happy endings. Ditka's tenure in New Orleans will be remembered for his ill-fated trade for Ricky Williams.
During the 1999 draft, the Saints moved up to select Williams. They traded away all their picks in 1999 and their first round pick to Washington in 2000 for the right to move up and select Williams.
After playing in only 19 games during his final two years in St. Louis and his one season with the Giants, Kurt Warner returned to the NFL's elite with Arizona in 2005.
An injury-laden 2006 season set Warner back. In 2007, his cemented his future place in Canton. In 2007, Warner threw for 3,417 yards, 27 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
He followed those up with a Pro Bowl season in 2008 during which he led the Cardinals to the NFC West title and the franchise's first-ever Super Bowl.
Only a Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes touchdown pass with 35 second remaining prevented Warner from becoming the first QB to win a Super Bowl with two different teams.
Bozeman is a story in perseverance and patience. He became the Head Coach at just 29 years old at California in the middle of the 1993 season.
When severe recruiting violations were uncovered at Cal, Bozeman was banned by the NCAA from coaching for eight years.
He has finally resurfaced at Morgan State after many years as an NBA scout. Bozeman had been out of basketball for five years when he resurfaced at Morgan State.
Bozeman has led the Bears to an 85-51 record in four seasons and two NCAA Tournaments and an NIT.
Hartl was the starting fullback for Northwestern during their amazing run to the Big Ten Title and the Wildcats first Rose Bowl berth since 1949.
Hartl missed the 1996 season after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease.
He returned for the 1997 season playing with basically one lung as a result of radiation.
After he battled and beat cancer, it tragically returned and Hartl lost his life on Aug. 30, 1999 at age 23.
After the birth of her son Jager, Davenport announced her return to the WTA Tour on July 18, 2007. She won two titles that fall on the Asian part of the tour.
In 2008, Davenport won two tournaments and advanced to the third round of the US Open. She announced her second retirement in January 2009 after she became pregnant with her second child.
On June 30, 2009, Davenport gave birth to a baby girl.
During the last half of the 1990's, Martina Hingis was the face of women's tennis. From 1997-99 she won five Grand Slam titles.
Hingis was forced to retire in 2003 with various injuries. She had a failed attempt at a comeback in 2005. She went full force in 2006.
Hingis reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open before losing Kim Clijsters. She repeated her QF loss to Clijsters the following year.
In her second stint on tour Hingis was a good player, but she never regained the form that made her the dominant player on the WTA tour for three seasons.
Some experts have said the game passed her by. The power of players like the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova was too much for the lithe Hingis.
Hingis eventually retired after testing positive for cocaine.
Before Michael Jordan owned the World Athletically, Pele was the preeminent sports star globally. He helped Brazil to the World Cup Title in 1958, 1962 and 1970. Pele retired in 1972.
He returned in 1975 with the expectation of elevating soccer to a new level in the United States. Joining the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League, Pele was in the perfect place to attract attention.
Pele played to sellout crowds for many years, eventually leading the Cosmos to the 1978 NASL title. He concluded his North American career with 37 goals in 64 games.
In his final game, Pele scored for the Cosmos against his Brazilian club team Santos. Pele played a half with each team to cap a brilliant career.
After 15 years as a College Football analyst, Dick Vermeil returns to the sideline as Head Coach of the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams went 9-23 in Vermeil's first two years. They came out of nowhere with the greatest show on turf to finish 13-3 with the NFL's best record.
They barely survived the Titans with a goal line stop on the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV.
Gibbs is one of the most successful coaches of all-time. Only Pittsburgh's Chuck Noll has won more Super Bowls than Gibbs' three.
During his first stint with the Redskins, they compiled a 124-60 record and won three Super Bowls, four NFC Championships, and made eight playoff appearances.
After 12 years off the NFL sidelines, Gibbs returned to the Redskins, signing a five-year contract.
Gibbs fulfilled four of the five years on his contract. They finished 30-34 in those four years with two playoff appearances.
Their 2007 run to the playoffs was particularly impressive. The Redskins started 5-7. The finished the season winning their last four games.
His players credited Gibbs for uniting the team after losing several key players including the murder of star safety Sean Taylor. They were eliminated by Seattle in the Wild Card game in what would be Gibbs last game.
After sitting out five seasons, Magic tried a second comeback. He returned for the final 32 games of the 1996 season.
Playing Power Forward, Magic averaged 14.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 5.7 APG. The Lakers lost in the first round to Houston in five games and Magic permanently retired following the end of the season.
The Williams sisters have been the face of the WTA for over 10 years. While Venus has had most of her success at Wimbledon, Serena has completed the career Grand Slam.
She has had numerous comebacks in her career after being counted out and written out of tennis.
After eight months off in 2004, she came back to win the NASDAQ 100 (now the Sony Erickson) in Miami.
After another couple of down years Serena would return to dominance at the 2007 Australian Open. Serena had gone almost two years without making the finals of a Tier I event.
Unseeded, Williams survived a few close matches before defeating nemesis Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-2 in the final. The 2007 Australian stamped Serena's return as one of the WTA's most dominant players.
She has continued to win Grand Slams and has five since that 2007 title Down Under. She matched Tennis legend Billie Jean King earlier this year with 12 career Grand Slams.
David Robinson was the No. 1 pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1987 draft after finishing a brilliant career at Navy. Before Robinson could begin his NBA Career, he had to fulfill a two year stint in the Navy.
The Admiral was excused from his the final three years of his commitment in the Navy NBA career in the fall of 1989.
He would continue in a reserve role in the Navy while playing for the Spurs. Following his two and a half years off,
Robinson helped the Spurs to a 35-game turnover and earned the NBA rookie of the year award.
Robinson played 14 years with the Spurs and won two NBA titles. He won one scoring title and one MVP during his career.
Robinson won two Gold medals in the Olympics as part of two dream teams. He was also named to the NBA's 50th anniversary team.
Mike Tyson's downfall can be traced to his shocking upset loss to James "Buster" Douglas in Tokyo in 1990. Douglas was a 50-1 shot before knocking out Tyson in the tenth round. Two years after the loss to Douglas, Tyson was convicted of raping beauty contestant Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. He served three years before being released in 1995.
Tyson regained his WBC Belt by defeating Frank Bruno and then recaptured the WBA title over Bruce Seldon. In two of the most antipated fights ever, Tyson matched up with Evander Holyfield. Holyfield regained his title in their first match and the second one is one of the most infamous matches in boxing history. Tyson was disqualified after biting off part of Holyfield's ear. Tyson would never win another title.
During the end of his 2006 rookie season Jon Lester was diagnosed with cancer.
After missing most of the 2007 season, Lester won his first post-season start in the Red Sox clinching World Series victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Lester became just the third pitcher ever to win his first post-season start in a World Series-clinching game.
He has since become one of baseball's most reliable starters. He has posted a 31-14 record with a 3.30 Earned Run Average.
Citing injuries and the desire to start a family, Clijsters retired from tennis in May 2007. During her time off, Clijsters had her daughter Jayden with former Villanova basketball player Brian Lynch.
She returned in the WTA event in Cincinnati. Clijsters won three matches before losing in the quarterfinals to Dinara Safina.
In just her third tournament, Clijsters had an amazing run to win the US Open. She won her semifinal match against Serena Williams when Williams received a point penalty on match point.
Clijsters became just the second mother to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era (Since 1969) and the first player to defeat the Williams sisters in the same tournament.
Baylor basketball didn't have much tradition before tragedy struck in the summer of 2003. Baylor power forward Carlton Dotson murdered teammate Patrick Dennehy.
The fallout from the murder uncovered violations in the program. As a result, star players Lawrence Roberts and John Lucas III transferred to other schools with immediate eligibility.
Roberts would lead Mississippi State in scoring and rebounding to become a first team All-American, and Lucas led Oklahoma State to the Final Four.
Scott Drew arrived in Waco in the fall of 2003 and led the Bears to a 17-40 record in his first two seasons. As part of the fallout from former coach Dave Bliss' and the previous staff, Baylor was allowed to compete only in conference games during the 2005-06 season.
Before Drew arrived, Baylor had only four NCAA Tournament appearances. They have now advanced to two of the last three NCAA Tournaments. Their three wins in this year's NCAA Tournament on their run to the Elite Eight were the most wins for Baylor in a single NCAA Tournament.
After three seasons to right the ship, Drew has turned things around in Waco. With most of their team returning for 2011, Baylor should be a Top 10 pre-season pick.
The last three NFL off-seasons have turned into the "will he or won't he" of Brett Favre's retirement decision. Favre announced his initial retirement on March 4, 2008.
After a month of public bickering with the Packers, he was finally traded to the Jets in August 2008. In his only season in New York, Favre had 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
The Jets faded down the stretch losing four of five, costing themselves a playoff spot.
Foreman was known as one of the meanest boxers during his first stint as a professional in the sweetest science.
He won the Olympic Gold Medal in Mexico City and made American proud by dancing around the ring in spite of the controversy surrounding the Mexico City Games.
He won the World Championship in 1973. He would lose the belt a year later in the Rumble in the Jungle to Muhammad Ali in Zaire.
Foreman's comeback is one of the most improbable ever. He won the title at the age of 45 in 1994 when he knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round to become boxing's oldest champion.
The win prompted Jim Lampley to proclaim "It Happens, It Happens."
Jim Plunkett entered the NFL as the first Hispanic Heisman trophy winner at Stanford and hailed as a can't-miss pro prospect.
After five uneventful seasons for the Patriots with a 23-38 record, Plunkett moved back to the Bay Area. His two-year stint with the 49ers didn't pan out and they released him during the 1978 pre-season.
After sitting on the Oakland bench for the better part of two seasons, Plunkett was finally given a chance to play during the 1980 season. He led the Raiders to a 9-2 record as a starter.
Plunkett became the second Heisman trophy winner and the first Hispanic QB to win the Super Bowl. Three years later when starting QB Marc Wilson got hurt, Plunkett again led the Raiders to another Super Bowl win.
The self-appointed Greatest retired from boxing after recapturing the World Title in 1978.
After two years away from the sport, Ali attempted his second comeback.
After being dominated by his former sparring partner Larry Holmes, it was clear that Ali was not the current greatest fighter.
Torres comeback defies logic. At the age of 41, two years after giving birth and eight years after her last Olympic games, Torres returned to the pool.
She won three silver medals, including an individual medal in the 50 meter freestyle.
This was her second comeback after eight years between Olympic games in Barcelona and Sydney.
Howe hung up his skates after a 25-year Hall of Fame career in Detroit following the 1971 season. Howe returned with the Houston Aeroes of the WHA in the fall of 1973 after sitting out two seasons.
He posted four 90-plus points seasons after the age of 45 before concluding his career back in the NHL at the age of 52 in 1980.
Six years after winning the Heisman trophy Roger Staubach finally made his NFL debut as a 27 year old NFL rookie.
Staubach was commissioned in the NFL after graduating from the Naval Academy. He served a tour a duty in Vietnam before making his way to Dallas.
Staubach led the Cowboys to a victory in Super Bowl VI. Craig Morton regained the starting job the next season.
After sitting on the bench for most of the 1972 season, Staubach finally assumed the starting job full time permanently in 1973. He and the Cowboys won their second Super Bowl after the 1977 season.
They defeated former Cowboys QB and Staubach's competition, Craig Morton and the Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XXIII.
He retired following the 1979 season and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Coach K was forced to the sideline with a back injury. The Blue Devils started the season 9-3 under Krzyzewski but finished 13-18 under interim coach Pete Gaudet.
He returned for the 1995-96 season and guided Duke to their 12th NCAA Tournament appearance in 13 seasons. It would be another three years before Duke would return to the Final Four.
After losing the 1999 NCAA Championship game to UConn, they would win the school's third national championship in 2001.
Capriati was promoted as the next great player when she debuted at the age of 13 in 1990. Capriati had meteoric success early in her career. She reached the semifinals of her first Wimbledon.
Two years later, dealing with mounting pressure, she took a leave of absence from the tour. She would play sporadically over the next two and a half years.
Capriati returned to the tour full time in February 1996. She didn't win a single match at a Grand Slam between the 1993 French Open and the 1998 French.
Capriati's rise was culminated in 2001. She won the Australian defeating World No. 4 Monica Seles in the semifinals, No. 2 Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals and No. 1 Martina Hingis in the finals.
She won the French Open later that year and finished the grand slams with semifinal appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Montana was the player of the decade for the 1980's. After suffering an elbow injury during the 1991 pre-season, he was forced to sit out that entire season and most of 1992.
Montana returned for the final game of the season on Monday Night Football against Detroit in 1992. Montana finished 15-26 for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
By then, Steve Young had gained control of the 49ers offense. Montana was traded to Kansas City in the off-season ending one of the most successful runs in NFL history.
Lemieux was forced to take a leave of absence at the height of his career during the 1992-93 season. He revealed he had non-hodgkins lymphoma. Lemieux was on pace to break Wayne Gretzky's record goals and points in a season.
Everyone is aware of Lance Armstong's comeback. He has built an army of fans for his courage overcoming cancer and has inspiring fashion with his yellow rubber bracelets.
Before Armstrong's dominance at the Tour De France, Lemond became the first American in 1986 to win the tour. On the eve of defending his title, Lemond was severely injured in a shotgun accident.
Lemond missed two tours because of the injury. Overcoming 37 shotgun pellets in his leg, Lamond returned to win the Tour again in 1989 and 1990.
Because of his amazing comeback, Lemond was awarded as the 1989 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
On the eve of the 1991-92 season, Johnson announced he was HIV positive. He didn't return initially because of opponents concerns about contact HIV through contact against Magic. He was voted to and played in the 1992 All Star game earning the MVP with 25 points and nine rebounds. He went on to play for the dream which dominated their Olympic competition like no team before or since.
In 1997, Andre Agassi suffered a down season and had to play on the challenger circuit to build his ranking and credibility back up.
Agassi returned with a vengeance in 1998. He raised his ranking from No. 122 at the start of the year to No. 6 when the 1998 tennis season concluded. It was the largest one-year jump in the history of the ATP Tour.
In 1999, he returned to his place among the sport's elite. He won the French Open to complete the career grand slam and also lost to Pete Sampras at Wimbledon before winning at the U.S. Open.
After getting stabbed on the court by a fan or rival Steffi Graf in 1993 Seles left the WTA Tour. She would not return until 1995.
During his first run, Seles won the French Open at 16, the youngest player to do so up until that point.
Upon her return, Seles would make it back into the upper echelon of tennis, including winning the 1996 Australian Open. That would be her only grand slam after her return.
She remained one of the game's best players until her retirement in 2003, but she never regained her dominant form before the stabbing.
After three championships and four trips to the NBA Finals in five years, Jackson stepped down from the Lakers at the end of the 2004 season. He announced his return a year later.
By his third season, the Lakers were back in the NBA Finals. They lost the 2008 NBA Finals to Boston in five games.
In 2009, the Lakers won their first title since 2002. The title was Jackson's 10th, the most by any coach in NBA history.
Jordan had a second comeback with the Washington Wizards, beginning with the 2001-02 season for his third stint in the NBA.
With Washington, Jordan had his lowest and third lowest scoring averages of his career. The Wizards failed to make the playoffs in either of his two seasons.
Jordan also spent many unsuccessful seasons with the Wiz as their general manager, but those were also unsuccessful years in Washington. Polin eventually let Jordan go.
Tiger Woods comeback this week in the Masters is being publicized as one of the most anticipated in sports history. This is nothing new to Tiger.
He has been through the death of his father because of a knee injury. His 2009 comeback concluded with six titles, but without a major for the first time since 2004.
Josh Hamilton was the first overall pick in the 1999 Major League entry draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He was dubbed the natural and a can't miss prospect.
Hamilton was out of baseball from 2004-06 because of drug problems. After finally getting straight, he returned to baseball in 2007 with the Cincinnati Reds.
In his rookie season, Hamilton hit .292 with 19 home runs and 47 RBI in 90 games.
After another off-season of seeing the big sports outlets chronicling the days of Brett Favre's lives, he finally made the decision to return on Aug. 18, 2009.
His decision to play for the Minnesota Vikings angered many Packer fans and split Packer nation on how to receive him on his return.
His first game against the Packers was the highest rated show in cable television history. His return to Green Bay occurred during his second match-up with the Packers.
With the game on Fox this time, the game drew a higher rating than game four of the World Series, cementing the NFL as the true American pastime.
After two back surgeries and cancer, Lemieux initially retired following the 1997 season.
Super Mario returned three seasons later and despite missing so much time, he was still one of the best players in the NHL.
He led the league in points per game from the time of his return until his final retirement in 2006.
Many people have theorized that the reason the Chicago Bulls were broken up after six titles in eight years was that Phil Jackson was the first to let management know that he would not return following the 1998 season.
Michael Jordan followed suit and when Scottie Pippen was traded, the Bulls were not left with much.
After sitting a year out, Phil Jackson returned the the sidelines as the leader of the Los Angeles Lakers for the 1999-2000 season.
Southern California and the Zen Master was a perfect marriage. MJ and Pip was the best duo in the NBA during their run in the Windy City.
When Phil took over the Lakers, he inherited the NBA's best duo at the time, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.
In his first year in Tinseltown, Lakers won their first of three consecutive title with Phil, Shaq and Kobe leading the way.
Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer and given about a 50 percent chance of survival.
Not only did he defeat cancer, he returning the road racing and won seven consecutive Tours De France from 1999-2005.
After another retirement, Armstrong returned in 2009 to finished third in the TDF.
If the Splendid Splinter had not missed so much time with tours of duty in WWII and Korea, there is no telling where his records would have been.
Williams amazingly never reached 3,000 hits and is still widely considered the greatest hitter to ever play the game.
Tiger's first comeback came after a nine week leave of absence from the PGA Tour following the death of his father.
After missing the cut at the US Open, Woods dominated the remaining two majors of the season.
He would capture the British Open and PGA Championship at 18 under par, just one off the all-time major record.
Citing his beliefs and being a conscientious objector, Muhammad Ali refused to serve and was imprisoned for refusing to enlist in the army in 1967. He had his title stripped and lost his boxing license in every state.
He was finally given a boxing license in Georgia, a state without a boxing commission. He returned in 1970 and backing up the prediction of his trainer Angelo Dundee, Ali knocked out Jerry Quarry in the third round.
Jordan's exploits are well documented. During game one of the 1993 ALCS at Jerry Reinsdorf's other team, the White Sox, rumors began to swirl that MJ would announce his retirement the next day.
The rumors were proven true and Jordan announced he was leaving basketball in part because of the murder of his father.
Jordan took a failed stint at baseball. Jordan hit .202 with three homeruns and 51 RBI for the Birmingham Barons in AA.
Jordan returned to the NBA in March 1995. In his first game back, MJ scored 19 points and had six rebounds, six assists and three steals as the Bulls lost 103-96 in overtime at Indiana.
After winning the NBA Championship from 1991-93, Jordan and Bulls lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to Orlando. It was the first playoff series the Bulls lost with Jordan since 1990.
The Bulls then would enact revenge on former Bull Horace Grant and the Magic the following season. The Bulls eliminated Grant and the Magic on their way to their fourth NBA crown in six seasons.
In a fitting tribute to Jordan's father, the Bulls clinched their fourth title on Father's Day 1996.
The Bulls would capture two more consecutive titles to repeat the three-peat. Jordan's final shot as a Bull defeated Utah in game six.
Tommy John might be considered the original comeback. His courage and inspiration is awe inspiring.
When John injured the Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his arm in 1974, his career should have been over. Instead, Dr. Frank Jobe performed a radical and unprecedented surgery.
The surgery involves placing a ligament from somewhere else in your body into your elbow. The recovery time is still 12-18 months, but still makes a career possible.
John won 163 games after the surgery and had three 20-win seasons and four top ten finishes in the Cy Young voting following the surgery. His career revolutionized pitching.