You know Lance had to top this list. He had to. He may be hated as much as loved, but he's universally admired for his resurrection.
Armstrong made a splash in the cycling world, signed a lucrative contract, then got diagnosed with testicular cancer (and let's face it men, the idea of cancer makes us jittery; the idea of cancer in the tenders petrifies us.) The cancer was quite advanced and had spread to his abdomen, lungs, lymph nodes, and his brain. Doctors gave him a 40% chance of survival.
Armstrong opted for surgery and aggressive chemotherapy treatments. Chemotherapy is a demon all of its own. It can cause soul-crushing bouts of nausea, abdominal problems, anemia, joint pain... an entire index of dangers and discomforts.
So what does Armstrong do? If you're thinking chocolate milkshakes and cartoons in bed, you're way off. Between chemo sessions, the guy goes cycling. Armstrong saw cancer as his greatest competitor, and he grew determined to beat it. Win he did, but the battle had taken a toll on his physical and mental conditioning. To make matters worse, his sponsor had dropped him.
A man on a mission, he found a new sponsor, trained with intensity, and then went on to collect "a few accolades."