The Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 broke a winless streak of 49 years, but it doesn't end there. Only a few years ago, the team was ranked by ESPN as the worst sports franchise with a notoriously bad owner in William "Dollar Bill" Wirtz. After his death in fall 2007, his son Rocky took over and improved the team exponentially over the next few years.
Marian Hossa finally got to lift the Cup after being on the losing team in the previous two Stanley Cup finals.
23-year-old Jonathan Toews finished off an amazing year, winning Best Forward and a gold medal with Team Canada in the Olympics following the Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup.
Some estimates put the number of people attending the victory parade at 2 million.
TV analyst and former Blackhawk player Jeremy Roenick broke down on the air after the game, saying "For the kid who was there in 1992 who was crying when I came off the ice in after we lost Game 4 at Chicago Stadium you waited 18 years. I hope you have a big smile on your face. Congratulations."
And in 2013 after beating the Boston Bruins, they took out a full-page ad in the Boston Globe newspaper thanking the Bruins organization and the city of Boston for a great series and hospitality. Good sportsmanship is not dead after all.
During the 2008-09 season, the entire Chicago Blackhawks team skips out on a day of rest to be with their GM at his late father's wake. To top it off, they make a stop at a small-town McDonald's. It almost went unnoticed until someone emailed a host of a NHL show on XM Radio, in which it finally got noticed and the story received the treatment it deserved.
In 1997, the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, breaking a 42-year drought, sending the city into a frenzy of celebration. Six days later, defenceman Vladimir Konstantinov suffered permanent brain damage in a car accident. The team dedicated the next season to their teammate and won the Stanley Cup again. Tradition states that at the cup raising ceremony, the captain receives the cup, hoists it, and hands it to the team's most valuable player. Wings captain Steve Yzerman took the cup, raised it in the air and then gently placed it in Konstantinov's lap. Konstantinov had been brought onto the ice in his wheelchair to be with the team. The whole team gathered around and wheeled him around the ice in a victory lap holding the Stanley Cup.
On June 9, 2001, after 22 seasons of playing, Ray Bourque finally won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, in his last career NHL game ever. Stanley Cup tradition states that the captain hoists the Cup and then skates the cup around the rink first upon winning the cup. However, Avalanche captain Joe Sakic, knowing how long Bourque had waited for the Cup, gave him the honor of hoisting the Cup and skating around the rink first. To add on, teammate Patrick Roy (one of the best goalies of all time, 2nd in regular season wins) claimed, "A name was missing from that Cup, and today it is back to normal."
This story runs deeper than that, and is layered with both Heartwarming and Awesome: Bourque had spent over 20 years playing for the Boston Bruins, and is still considered an icon of that team. In 2000, after the Bruins were out of playoff contention, he requested a trade, since he felt that he was near the end of his career and wanted as good a shot at The Big One as possible. Rather than hold on to him tooth and nail, the Bruins' front office facilitated a trade to Colorado - not Bourque's first choice - feeling that they would give him the best shot possible; they felt he deserved it after two decades of loyalty. The rest is history, but it doesn't end there. Bourque was allowed to bring The Cup to Boston where a rally was held in celebration of the beloved player, which was attended by thousands of people. The fact that he won the Cup with another team didn't matter; they were just happy that he finally won it.
Gary Thorne: The city of Boston, and most of New England, on its feet. They have been watching this series as if Ray Bourque was still one of the Bruins.
Bill Clement: He's not still one of the Bruins. He's just still one of them.
In 2008, the Windsor Spitfires captain Mickey Renaud had died of a heart condition. So in the following hockey season, the team won the Memorial Cup for the first time. Not only did they win in the memory of Mickey Renaud and hung his jersey on their bench, the entire city banded together in supporting and cheering for their team for the whole season. The whole city was suffering from the economic recession and the city was completely transformed by the determination of the Spitfires.
Just reading this article about the Spitfires was heartwarming enough.
Not to mention, as soon as the Spitfires' plane touched down back to Windsor, they were greeted with tremendous roars and cheers of all their fans, wearing red, waving flags and screaming for their team.
Phil Esposito's emotional speech on national television after Team Canada suffered a humiliating loss against the Soviets in Game 4 of the Summit Series in Vancouver and was booed off the ice in their own home country and further crucified by the media.
"To the people across Canada, we tried, we gave it our best, and to the people that boo us, geez, I'm really, all of us guys are really disheartened and we're disillusioned, and we're disappointed at some of the people. We cannot believe the bad press we've got, the booing we've gotten in our own buildings. If the Russians boo their players, the fans ... Russians boo their players ... Some of the Canadian fansI'm not saying all of them, some of them booed us, then I'll come back and I'll apologize to each one of the Canadians, but I don't think they will. I'm really, really ... I'm really disappointed. I am completely disappointed. I cannot believe it. Some of our guys are really, really down in the dumps, we know, we're trying like hell. I mean, we're doing the best we can, and they got a good team, and let's face facts. But it doesn't mean that we're not giving it our 150%, because we certainly are. I mean, the more everyone of us guys, 35 guys that came out and played for Team Canada, we did it because we love our country, and not for any other reason, no other reason. They can throw the money, uh, for the pension fund out the window. They can throw anything they want out the window. We came because we love Canada. And even though we play in the United States, and we earn money in the United States, Canada is still our home, and that's the only reason we come. And I don't think it's fair that we should be booed."
Guess what? Canada won the Summit Series in the end.
New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died during the off-season due to complications from painkillers. The next public appearance for the Rangers organization was during the NHL Entry Draft. The team brought in his brother, a fellow hockey player, to make the selection in his memory to a standing ovation.
Mike Modano spent nearly his entire NHL career playing for the Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars. In 2010, he returned to hockey after a planned retirement, and was picked up by the Detroit Red Wings. The last game of the 2011 regular season was at Dallas. The day before the game, Mike was called into the Red Wings locker room, where he was presented a box. He must've thought it was a retirement present, and what a present it was. It was a Dallas Stars home jersey, with his number 9 on it. The Red Wings and the Stars had made an arrangement for Mike to play his last game in Dallas as a Star. Even better? Not only did the Stars fans give him a standing ovation, the Red Wings fans did too. The best part? The final of the game was 10 in overtime, with Modano scoring that goal. Something to add on to that. This was footage from his last game in 2010. After the season's conclusion, Modano's contract with the Wings expired. At a ceremony in Dallas, the Stars signed him to a one-day contract, and Modano sent his retirement papers to the league HQ immediately afterwards. In the end, he retired permanently as a Star.
The 1991 NHL All-Star Game at the old Chicago Stadium. A few years prior, Hawks fans had developed a tradition of cheering during the National Anthem when during the playoffs, they were so riled up that no one could even hear when they announced the singing and ended up cheering right through itnote a byproduct of the stadium's unique acoustic qualities, which they went out their way to replicate when they build the United Center. The tradition was codified at the ASG which was held just days after the start of the Persian Gulf War. The outburst of American patriotism was like nothing that had ever been heard and was made even more pointed by the performance of vocalist Wayne Messmer who maintained his ability to sing almost flawlessly without even the slightest flinch from the noise.
In a mix between this and a Moment of Awesome, in 2001, then-Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu was diagnosed with cancer. Expected to miss the whole season, he came back for the last few games of the season. Montreal fans gave him an eight-minute standing ovation. He then helped the team get into a playoff spot and eventually defeat the top seeded Boston Bruins, with whom they have arguably the biggest rivalry in pro hockey.
March 2, 1993. Mario Lemieux ("The Magnificent One") makes his return to the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins after having to take time off to be treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma. It's a game vs. the Philadelphia Flyers in Philadelphia; the Flyers and Penguins have a very fierce rivalry. You also know the whole deal with how rough Philadelphia fans are. Pregame warm-ups begin. When Lemieux comes out on the ice, the Philadelphia crowd gives him a standing ovation and welcomes him back. Then the game starts and Lemieux scores a goal, his 40th of the year. Flyers fans respond with ANOTHER standing ovation.
On November 20, 2014, at the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Nashville Predators game in Canada, the mic cut out during the singing of the National Anthem. Without hesitation, Toronto's fans pick it up.
On October 31, 1975, goaltender Eddie Giacomin, the heart and soul of the New York Rangers organization for the past decade, was placed on waivers and claimed by the Detroit Red Wings. Two nights later, Giacomin played his first game as a Red Wing at Madison Square Garden against his old team. During the entire game, the fans were chanting "ED-DIE! ED-DIE!" and actually booed their own home team whenever they scored on him. It showed just how much the Rangers fans loved Eddie Giacomin.
Kimmo Timmonen, after 15 seasons split between the Predators and Flyers, nearly had his career ended by life threatening blood clots. He was sidelined for most of the 2014-15 season until just before the trade deadline when the Flyers (who were mostly out of contention) traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks to give him one last shot to win a Stanley Cup. A few months later, as a member of the team that beat him in his only previous chance, he was finally able to lift it before retiring. He was the first person Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews passed it to after accepting it.
Before the May 1, 2017 Stanley Cup playoff game between the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks, Canadian country singer Brett Kissell was supposed to sing the US national anthem. For whatever reason, his mic wouldn't work and so gets the crowd to sing ittogether with little prompting.
In 2016, Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson took a leave of absence from the team as his wife had been diagnosed with throat cancer. The team suffered several humiliating losses, and his wife encouraged him to return. His return game was in Edmonton, and he had an amazing performance, shutting out the Oilers, despite facing 40 shots. As he was named first star, the Edmonton fans gave him a standing ovation for his performance despite their team losing. He would become a rock for the team, carrying the Senators all the way to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where they were unfortunately bounced by the defending (and eventual) Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
On June 7, 2018, the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights to clinch the Caps first Stanley Cup in their 44 year existence and banishing 27 years of sports heartbreak for D.C., since their last sports title of any kind was the Redskins' victory in Super Bowl XXVI in the 1991 NFL season.
The St. Louis Blues' victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals gave the franchise its first ever championship, after having been founded 52 years before, ending one of the longest championship droughts in history. Not only that, but at the start of 2019, they were officially the worst team in the NHL, before climbing out and becoming the champions.
In the 2020 NHL Draft, San Jose Sharks director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr., before announcing that they selected Ozzy Wiesblatt, signed Ozzy's name first because his mother is deaf.
Also in the 2020 draft, when Jake Boltmann of the Lincoln Stars found out the Calgary Flames drafted him, he was at practice with his team. The minute the team found out, they dogpiled him with excitement and jubilation that he made it.
October 10, 2017, nine days after the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting, was the first home game of the Vegas Golden Knights' inaugural season. The team had already thrown themselves into the community, donating money and making visits despite being a new team in a less popular sport. At their opening game, each player entered with a first responder— police, nurses, and EMS workers— to honor their work. The names of the victims were emblazoned on the ice. Player and Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland gave a speech dedicating their season to the city. Then, the Knights retired the number 58, in honor of those killed. The Knights went on to win the game and have a spectacular season that led them to the Stanley Cup playoffs. The team and city formed a fierce bond, with the Knight's incredible first season cited as helping the city recover from the shooting.
Even years later, the Knights have continued to honor the first responders from the shooting, having meet-and-greats, special events, and opening specific practices for those who were there and their families.
On November 3, 2009, Shabtai von Kalmanovic, then-owner of the Women's Basketball club Spartak Moscow Region Vidjnoe, was murdered. For a while, it was unclear how the team would carry on. Kalmanovic's wife took over ownership of the ball club. Not only did Spartak survive, but the team was nigh invincible during the 2009 - 2010 Euroleague season. Spartak fought through - and won - a challenging Euroleague championship match, their fourth in a row. Cue the entire team donning "This is 4 Shabs" T - Shirts.
Lauren Hill. Not just one heartwarming moment, but a whole series of them... not to mention Dying Moments of Awesome. In October 2013, during her senior year in high school, and shortly after announcing that she would play at Cincinnati-area Division III school Mount St. Joseph, she found out that she had an inoperable brain tumor. The following summer, she found out that she might not live to see 2015. She had only one wish: to play in one college game. What happened next?
First, MSJ and their season-opening opponent, Hiram College, petitioned the NCAA to move their opener to November 1. Normally, NCAA teams cannot start their season until November 15. The NCAA settled on November 2.
Hiram also agreed to move the game, scheduled for its campus, to MSJ.
Then Hill's story hit the national media... and requests for tickets and media credentials soon outgrew MSJ's 2,000-seat gym.
Enter Xavier University, a local Division I school, which offered free use of its arena, Cintas Center, which holds a bit over 10,000.
Then... game time. By arrangement between the two teams, Hill scored the first points of the game, sinking a left-handed layup. (The "left-handed" part is importanttrust us.) At halftime, she received an award for courage from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association... and received it personally from the award's namesake, Tennessee women's basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt. And then, shortly before the end of the game and with MSJ holding a safe lead, she went back in, and scored the final basket as well. Oh, and may we add... the game was a sellout. The attendancenote 10,250 annihilated the previous record for a D-III gamenote 4,395, and also surpassed the D-II record.note then 7,543 Incidentally, this was the first college women's game ever to receive its own page on The Other Wiki. And, to this day, is the only regular-season college women's game with such a page.
But did it end there? Far from it. She played in three more games until her condition worsened to the point that she couldn't play any longer. Even then, she was on the bench as her health allowed. And, she made the season-ending team banquet, which her coaches and teammates moved to her hospital room.
She was also runner-up for the AP Female Athlete of the Year (in all American sports!) in 2014. (The winner was Little League pitching sensation Mo'ne Davis.)
MSJ's conference, the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, normally selects six players to its all-conference team. In 2015, it added a seventh. No need to guess who the extra member was.
Hill finally lost her fight with cancer in April 2015. The public memorial service was held at Cintas Center, and her casket was placed under the basket where she scored her first points.
She had spent her final months as an advocate for pediatric brain cancer research, even coming up with a fundraising challenge of her own inspired by the Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge: Spin in a circle five times, and sink a layup with your off hand. The effects of her cancer made her regularly dizzy, and also impaired her normally dominant right hand. (That's why her first college layup was left-handed.) By her passing, her efforts saw $1.5 million donated to a local children's cancer charity. (As of November 2019, the total donations traced to her efforts are up to $2.5 million.)
And her legacy continues...
When Caitlyn Jenner was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award by ESPN, there was a lot of outrage by people who believed Hill should win. Ultimately, ESPN awarded Hill the Best Moment award instead, making her only the second woman (after a group of softball players who helped an injured teammate complete a home run) to win the award.
The NCAA gave her its Inspiration Award posthumously in 2016; she shared honors that year with former NFL player O. J. Brigance, who continued to work in the Baltimore Ravens' front office while battling ALS.
In November 2015, MSJ and Xavier began an annual doubleheader, hosted by Xavier, which opened the season for one or both teams and was christened the Lauren Hill Tipoff Classic. MSJ ended its direct involvement in the event after the 201819 season, but Xavier continues with it, moving it to midseason for 201920 (and beyond) as the Lauren Hill Classic. MSJ's involvement was capped off by the 2017 edition, in which Hiram returned to play MSJ to open what would have been Hill's senior (final) season. And, during halftime, several of Hill's former teammates (both active and already-graduated) attempted her layup challenge.
And she was announced as a 2019 inductee of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame because of how her story has continued to be relevant well beyond her passing.
Hill's story contributed to yet another heartwarming moment. In August 2014, Avery Marz, then a 17-year-old who was set to begin playing at Saint Joseph's, suffered a stroke while moving into her dorm room. One doctor told her she'd never play again. After one of her rehab sessions, she saw TV coverage of Hill's first game, including the halftime award ceremony. Marz returned to play in the 201718 season, and cited Hill as a major inspiration in her comeback. After that season, she was named winner of the same award Hill had received during her first game, and received the award with Hill's parents and Summitt's son in attendance. Hill's mother even likened Marz to her daughter.
Another story from the 201415 season: Austin Hatch survivor of two plane crashes that killed the rest of his immediate family, the second of which left him in a coma for two months scores his first point at Michigan. Hatch went on to receive the men's version of the award that Hill received during her first game. While that season would prove to be his only one as a college playerhe and Wolverines coach John Beilein announced he would end his playing career after that season due to the aftereffects of the second crashit was far from the end of his journey with Michigan basketball. The Wolverines received a medical waiver for Hatch that kept him on scholarship through his graduation in spring 2018. For the rest of his time at Michigan, he was a student assistant coach, participating fully with the team except for not being on the active roster. And, for what would have been his senior day, he suited up and participated in warmups with the rest of the team, and was honored alongside the seniors on the active roster, with his fiancée with him on court. Minor Downer Ending: Michigan lost to Villanova in the 2018 national championship game, Hatch's last on the sideline.
March 31, 2013. Duke vs. Louisville. This basketball match-up was set to be a spectacle, with Duke having stolen a victory from Louisville in 1992. Then, during the first half, Louisville guard Kevin Ware jumped to block a three-point shot from Duke player Tyler Thornton and landed wrong, breaking both bones in his shin instantly upon landing which sent his fractured tibia through his skin. This happened right next to the Louisville bench, sending horrified players scrambling to keep from seeing the gruesome sight, some getting physically ill and many others crying. Even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski took a moment with Louisville coach Rick Pitino out of concern and sympathy. Yet even as he slowly realized what had happened to him, all Ware could tell his team over and over again was, "I'm fine.Go win the game." They proceeded to not only win against Duke, but go all the way to victory in the NCAA Championship. Ware was present to cut down the net afterward. And not just cut down the net... while head coaches normally cut the last strand of the net, Pitino gave that honor to Ware.
At a 2003 NBA game between the Portland Trail Blazers (home team) and the Dallas Mavericks, 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert was singing the national anthem when she suddenly stopped, having forgotten the words. Blazers head coach Maurice "Mo" Cheeks then rushed to the young girl's aid and they finished singing the anthem together (with the crowd helping out as well).
LeBron James' utter elation at winning his first championship after nine long years of coming of short, delightfully subverting Every Year They Fizzle Out. Eclipsed by his Manly Tears after the end of Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, when he finally, after thirteen years, delivered on his promise to bring a championship to Cleveland, ending the city's fifty-two year championship drought. When asked at the post-game ceremony what made this championship more special than his two in Miami, he only had two words: "I'm home."
The 2012-13 Oklahoma City Thunder were regarded as one of the best teams in the sport. They finished top of the Western Conference, and many already considered them to be a shoo-in for the Western Conference spot in the Finals. The first series was up against the Houston Rockets, who lost the seventh-place spot to the Los Angeles Lakers, who made the playoffs on the very last day. In Game 2, Patrick Beverley dove at the basketball as Russell Westbrook was calling time out and collided with his knee. Westbrook was incensed and went on to embarrass Beverley on the court in retribution, but after the game it was announced that he had torn his meniscus and would require season-ending surgery. The Thunder won the series in six games, struggling heavily in the latter half, and found themselves up against the Memphis Grizzlies. They took Game 1, but lost the next four, including the last game at home. Now, when a team is as good as the Thunder, you can expect to see more than a few bandwagon fans on board. In Oklahoma City? Not so. After the game was lost, the Oklahoma City fan gave the team a standing ovation, and as they marched to the locker rooms, sent them off with as loud a chorus of "OKC! OKC!" as has been heard all season.
The city of Memphis supporting the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that was supposed to be swept by the Spurs in the first round, and swept by the Thunder in the second round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. After a triple overtime loss to the Thunder at home, instead of leaving, the crowd gave them a standing ovation. Before that, during a game against the Spurs, Memphis was down by double digits at home. What did the fans do? They stood, one by one, and raised their "We Believe" towels in the air. Memphis won the game. And after their loss to the Thunder in Game 7? The fans still supported them. All the while, the city of Memphis was facing their worst flood since the 1930s. Oh, and they also sold out almost every playoff game.
There's the story of the "Memorial Day Miracle", well known in the city of San Antonio as being the turnaround moment for the San Antonio Spurs organization. It was Game 2 of the 1999 Western Conference Finals; the Portland Trail Blazers completely outplayed San Antonio in the first half, taking a 4834 lead. Portland then scored the first four points of the second half, forcing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call timeout. The Spurs then went on a 92 run (started by a three-pointer from Sean Elliott) before Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. called a timeout to try and break San Antonio's momentum. However, the Spurs' run continued on with eight unanswered points, before ending with yet another Elliott three-pointer that made it 5451. Both teams went back-and-forth for most of the second half after that point. However, the Spurs were down 8476 with around 2 minutes left. They rallied to catch up, but were still down 8583 with 12 seconds left after Portland's Damon Stoudamire split a pair of free throws. After a time-out by the Spurs to advance the ball to half-court, guard Mario Elie inbounded the ball past a diving Stacey Augmon to Elliott, who caught the pass near the sideline. He stayed on his toes while turning to shoot a 3, careful not to set his heels down out-of-bounds, which would have caused a turnover that almost certainly would've meant that the series would be tied at one game apiece (and render the Spurs' comeback painfully moot). Not only that, he had to deal with Rasheed Wallace running full-tilt at him to try and block the shot (which he just barely failed at doing). To cap off that tense sequence of events, his shot went in with 9 seconds left, giving San Antonio their first lead of the game. After a wild final possession that involved two missed shots by the Blazers, San Antonio walked off the court up 2 games to none. The Spurs then easily swept the last two games to get to the NBA Finals for the first time, where they would win their first NBA Championship in franchise history. What was especially awesome about this was that Sean Elliott was secretly battling a serious kidney condition that would eventually require him to get a kidney transplant from his brother. And in spite of the deep passion San Antonians feel for the Spurs, the championship celebrations were surprisingly peaceful, with only a handful of arrests for public drunkenness happening that night. That's right, an entire city celebrated a national championship of some import without rioting, looting, causing any fires, damaging any cars, roughing anybody up, or anything other than clogging up the downtown streets, honking their car horns and cheering as loudly as possible.
The HBO documentary Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals, which recounts the legendary NBA rivalry between the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird and Los Angeles Lakers' Earvin "Magic" Johnson has a particularly heartwarming moment. Before he announced to the world he was HIV-positive, Magic had his agent inform Bird of his condition. Bird, not wanting to believe it, called up Magic to offer support. Magic, as he recounts in the documentary with tears in his eyes, was very touched by this gesture, as he felt many of his so-called friends had abandoned him when he was diagnosed. The fact that his rival, a man he'd professed to not liking personally early on in his career (though they did become friends later on), had bothered to check on him was a great comfort.
Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest), perhaps the Ur-Example of a Jerkass in the NBAnote Many will recall his low point when he was suspended most of the 2004 season for being part of the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl that called off the game and saw the man get into a scrap with irate spectators., got one after he won an NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. It was his first championship, and like all players, he would get a championship ring. What he then did was a complete stunner: he announced a raffle for the ring, with all proceeds going towards providing mental health services for youth. The raffle raised over $600,000 when it was all said and done, and the winner even got a cash prize to cover the gift tax they would face. When he was asked why he was so willing to give up the ring for such a cause, his responded by saying, "I don't need a ring to remind myself I won an NBA Championship. The memories I have of winning it are far more satisfying."
Another example of a heartwarming moment from World Peace came after Lamar Odom was hospitalized after overdosing on herbal supplements. He argued that all the celebrities who were visiting Odom were taking time away from Odom's children, and part of the reason World Peace himself did not come to Odom's bedside was that he too would interfere with Odom's children.
World Peace: Not every Kardashian needs to be around. They need to keep it simple, so Lamars children can see him whenever they want to see him. Theyre waiting in line to see their own father.
February 26, 2018, CarverHawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa: In Iowa's final home game of the season, with the Hawkeyes holding a 7365 lead with 2:15 left against Northwestern, Iowa's Jordan Bohannon was at the free-throw line on a streak of 34 consecutive free throws, equaling the school record... but he intentionally missed, raising a finger to the sky immediately afterwards. Now for more background: The school record in question was held by Chris Street, who was killed in a car accident midway through the 199293 season while on a free-throw streak of 34. Bohannon, an Iowa native, was well aware of Street's story, and had become close to the Street family, later saying "that's not my record to have; and, obviously, that record deserves to stay in his name." Oh, and by the way, Street's parents were at that game. Iowa's coach didn't mind the intentional miss, even though there was still enough time for Northwestern to erase Iowa's 8-point lead. They didn't. And after the game, Street's father gave Bohannon, who still had two years left to play at Iowa, the family's blessing to break the record should he get another chance, telling him, "Next time, you need to go right on by."
January 26, 2020- the NBA (and the entire sports world for that matter) experienced an absolutely shocking tragedy when retired Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, one of the most famous faces in the entire sport, died in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others. Many teams who were playing that day decided to pay tribute to him by starting games by purposely running out the shot clock, which is set at 24 seconds- the number Bryant wore. Bryant also wore the number 8, which is the amount of seconds teams have to advance the ball past court, so teams ran that clock out as well.
March 3, 2020, Patrick Gymnasium, Burlington, Vermont: Senior Night at the University of Vermont. While it was certainly a big moment for UVM's seniors, it was even more special for one of them. For background, we have to go back to February 1, 2015. At the time, Josh Speidel was averaging 28 points per game for Columbus North High School in Columbus, Indiana (incidentally, the alma mater of Vice President Mike Pence). Shortly after committing to play for the Catamounts, he was in an auto accident. Upon being rushed to an Indianapolis hospital, he registered a 4 on a standard coma scalewith any reading lower than 8 being considered a "severe head injury". Doctors told his parents that Josh would likely require 24-hour care for the rest of his life, and would never read above a fourth-grade level. He came out of the coma five weeks later, and recovered sufficiently to attend UVM. The basketball team honored his scholarship, and for 201920 the NCAA issued a waiver allowing him to suit up for his final season at the school. He had appeared in a few games, but hadn't scored. But in a prearranged moment at the start of the Catamounts' game against Albany... he scored. And on top of that, he graduated from UVM in May 2020 with a GPA a shade under 3.4 (on the traditional US 4-point scale).
On Monday Night Football, after the death of his father, Packers QB Brett Favre went and played one of the best games of his career against the Oakland Raiders. Not only that, the Raider Nation, known for their booing of the other team, gave the opposing quarterback a standing ovation.
Heartwarming Moment on Monday Night Football, to Brett Favre, to the crowd, hell, everyone in the stadium! On the October 5th, 2009 game, for the first time playing in a purple and gold Vikings jersey, Favre faces off against his old team, the Green Bay Packers inside of the Minnesota Metrodome. Despite his warm greeting during the last home game, the crowd finally let Favre know over the course of the game just how much they accepted him now that he was playing like this against the Packers, bringing a huge smile to the man's face. Even after the MN defense smashed the GB offensive line and quarterback, at the end of the game, pretty much the entire Green Bay team went over to greet, compliment his playing and wish Favre luck with his new team, bringing tears to his eyes. The sight of all of this brought me to my own tears at just how loved this man is in the world of football, no matter what side he is on. The 3023 win brought the Vikings to 40 for the season at that point, doubling all the events in the game as a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
Raider Nation: When longtime Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown scored his 100th career touchdown—as a member of the hated Tampa Bay Buccaneers—the entire stadium stood and applauded his achievement. My favorite memory of the broadcast was the camera cutting to a man and his son holding a sign that said "We Miss You Timmy." Mr. Brown had been completely excommunicated by the Raider organization, but the fans still knew and loved him. There were tears in his eyes as he jogged back to his sideline.
When Colt McCoy, then playing for the Texas Longhorns, was injured by a late hit from Texas A&M's Kellen Heard and managed to get his hand up for a Hook 'Em as he was being stretchered out of the stadium. It is one of only two times when this longtime Aggie willingly joined in with said hand sign.
January 2007: The Boise State Broncos had just capped one of the greatest games and biggest upsets in college football history, taking down Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, 4342 in overtime. Fullback Ian Johnson, who had scored the winning two-point conversion, put a bow on the night by proposing, on national TV, to his cheerleader girlfriend. They were married that June. Of course, they had to have police guards at the wedding, due to the dismaying amount of threats the couple received objecting to their marriage. (She's white, he's black.) It's still a happy ending as both families issued statements that ignorant bigots were NOT going to ruin this moment. They were supported by the school and people across the nation.
Donovan McNabb, former quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, recently traded to the Washington Redskins, always had something of a love-hate relationship with fans. When coming back to the Eagles stadium, analysts debated for weeks how McNabb would be received by the tough Philadelphia crowd... most assumed either a mixed reaction or a loud chorus of boos. What did McNabb receive... a standing ovation. And was promptly booed once the game started.
Normally you hear about sports pros donating money on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars and visiting the troops, people in hospitals, etc. Charles Woodson, a cornerback for the Green Bay Packers did the second by visiting kids in the hospital. Along with him he brought along a $2 million check to donate to the University of Michigan for pediatric research.
In 1975, the Pittsburgh Steelers won their first world championship at Super Bowl IX. This turned heartwarming when after having never won a championship since founding the team in 1933, and having had far more losses than wins up to that point, the Lombardi trophy and game ball were presented to 74-year-old owner Art Rooney, who was universally popular in the NFL. It was quite a sight to see the cigar chomping, grandfatherly looking man have tears well up in his eyes as he was handed his first championship trophy.
This definitely doubles as a Tear Jerker. John Cappelletti was a running back on the Penn State Nittany Lions football team, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1973. When he accepted the award, he tearfully dedicated it to his 11-year-old brother Joey, who was battling childhood leukemia, which he would later succumb to.
The University of Nebraska - Lincoln wrapped up its 2013 spring practice on April 6 with the traditional Red-White game — half the players in red jerseys, half in white, playing each other before 60,000 fans. But during the fourth quarter, a timeout was called and a player substitution made. Seven-year-old Jack Hoffman, who at the time had been battling brain cancer for two years, came out onto the field in a kid-sized Husker uniform. The ball was snapped, the quarterback handed off to Jack, and he ran 69 yardsfor a touchdown.Postscript After a remission, a recurrence, and a second remission, followed by his father being diagnosed with a different and far more aggressive brain tumor, Jack started playing high school football in 2020. Sadly, his father died in March 2021, a little more than six months after being diagnosed.
An earlier example from Nebraska football: Kenny Walker played four years as a defensive end at Nebraska despite being deaf since age 2, and went on to briefly play in the NFL. During the introductions of Nebraska's seniors before Walker's final home game as a Cornhusker in 1990, the crowd roared in applause as each senior was announced... but fell silent when Walker was introduced. Instead, all 80,000-plus Nebraska fans raised a hand and waved itapplause in American Sign Language.
When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011, Shannon Sharpe had this to say about his older brother Sterling, whose career was sadly shortened by injuries:
Also from 2011, the induction of NFL Films founder Ed Sabol to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor at 94 years of age would have been this on its own; but the induction took a bittersweet turn soon after the announcement when Sabol's son and successor as president of NFL Films, Steve, was diagnosed with brain cancer. The younger Sabol lived long enough to attend and introduce his father for Ed's induction speech before passing away from brain cancer in September 2012, one week after Ed's 96th birthday and two weeks before Steve's 70th birthday.
During their run to winning the Super Bowl in the 200708 season, the New York Giants got inspiration from Lt Colonel Greg Garber, who had lost his legs in action. At the ceremony the Giants held to hand out Super Bowl rings, they let Garber know just how much he meant to them by presenting him with his own Super Bowl ring.
Another one for Nebraska football: In July 2016, punter Sam Foltz was killed in a traffic accident on his way home from working at a kicking camp for younger players. During the season opener at Nebraska, both Nebraska and Fresno State wore stickers on their helmets with Foltz' initials and number 27 as a memorial. When the Huskers entered the stadium, they were led by Foltz' two young nephews, both wearing #27 jerseys. On Nebraska's first punt the team performed the missing man formation, lining up with no punter on the field and letting the play clock run out. (Fresno State's head coach declined the delay-of-game penalty, and told reporters he didn't even consider accepting it.)
That was only the first tribute to Foltz during the season. When Oregon came to Lincoln, the Ducks' head coach and placekicker walked onto the field during pregame warmups and placed a bouquet on the 27-yard line. The flowers stayed at that spot for most of the pregame, with staffers from both teams coming by to visit the memorial and take pictures.
And then on the first Saturday in which all Big Ten teams were scheduled to play conference games, the league announced that a special coin would be used for the pregame coin toss in all seven games. One side features Foltz; the other features Mike Sadler, a former punter for Michigan State who was killed in the same crash.
During the week leading up to said Saturday, Illinois arranged for a special #27 Illinois jersey with Foltz' name on it to be made. The entire team and coaching staff signed it, and then when Illinois played Nebraska that week, the Illini long snapper presented the signed jersey to the Cornhuskers during the pregame. The jersey was then placed next to a Nebraska jersey, also bearing Foltz' name and number, that was on the bench throughout the season.
Wisconsin's placekicker changed his jersey number to 27 in Foltz' honor, but by the time the Huskers came to Madison to play the Badgers, he suffered a season-ending injury. This, however, allowed him and the Badgers to take their tribute Up to Eleven. Instead of spending the night before the game with his teammates, he stayed in Nebraska's team hotel with the Huskers' placekicker and the Foltz family. Then, he joined the Huskers' placekicker in the stadium tunnel for the team's pregame entrance, and they entered the stadium together bearing Foltz' Nebraska jersey.
Maryland and Purdue also gave Nebraska special #27 jerseys with Foltz' name, though without the autographs.
When the Huskers came to Ohio State, the Buckeyes placed a memorial plaque to Foltz outside the Huskers' locker room; their punter gave the Foltz family an official team helmet with 27 Buckeye stickers (normally awarded for outstanding plays) on it, and their marching band included a special "SF 27" formation in its halftime performance.
The Maryland game was also Nebraska's Senior Day, when senior players are honored during the team's final home game. Foltz would have been one of the honorees had it not been for the crash. During the pregame, the Huskers showed a video tribute to Foltz on the Memorial Stadium video boards, and parents of the team's seniors released 27 red balloons (Nebraska's main color) while the seniors placed red roses on the field.
Speaking of the "missing man" formation, Maryland did it on its first offensive play of the 2018 season. During that offseason, offensive guard Jordan McNair collapsed from heatstroke and died from it a few weeks later. When the Terrapins offense came out for the first time in the season opener against Texas, they lined up with only 10 men, with McNair's guard spot missing. They never snapped the ball, and got a delay of game penalty. Maryland had previously let the Texas coaching staff in on what they were planning, and the Longhorns declined the penalty. The Terps also wore helmet stickers with McNair's #79.
Kentucky did the same on its first offensive play of its 2020 game against Vanderbilt, the Wildcats' first after offensive line coach John Schlarman died after a two-year cancer battle. The left guard spot was left vacant, the Wildcats didn't snap the ball, and Vanderbilt declined the delay-of-game penalty. The Wildcats then brought on a left guard who wore #65, Schlarman's number when he played at UK more than 20 years earlier.
Jake Olson. Born with retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer, he lost his left eye when he was 10 months old. The cancer went into remission, but came back in 2009 when he was 12 years old. He and his family found out he'd have to have his right eye removed, leaving him totally blind. He'd grown up a USC fan and had developed a close relationship with the program... close enough that the team arranged for him to see a practice on the day before his surgery, so that some of his very last visual memories would be of his favorite team. The story doesn't end there, however. Despite being blind, he played high school football as a long snapper, and in 2015, he got a scholarship to USC through a special fund for physically challenged athletes, and got to join the Trojans. He played as a long snapper in USC's 2016 and 2017 spring games... and then in the 2017 season opener against Western Michigan, with the Trojans holding a safe lead late in the fourth quarter, he snapped for a successful extra point. The Broncos, knowing the game was out of reach and also suspecting Olson might come on, didn't bother rushing the kick.
On the same day that Olson made his competitive debut at USC, UABnote AlabamaBirmingham made its return to the football field after having dropped the sport following the 2014 season. Enter Tim Alexander. He had been a high school star in Birmingham until suffering a traumatic brain injury in a 2006 car crash that initially left him paralyzed from the neck down. After years of rehab, he regained the use of his upper body, enrolled at UAB as a student, and got a staff position with the football team. He received a master's degree in 2015, and played a major role in raising the funds that brought UAB football back from the dead. For the Blazers' return to the field, he rolled to midfield in his wheelchair, flanked by two former teammates, for the pregame ceremonies. And then rose from his wheelchair and, assisted by said teammates, walked the game ball to the referees.
In the same season, the University of Iowa started a heartwarming tradition. The university opened a new children's hospital in 2017 across the street from Kinnick Stadium, with the top few floors featuring an unobstructed view of the entire playing field. The top floor includes a special lounge known as the Press Box Cafe that is reserved on game days for patients and their families. (Big-screen TVs are also included to let them see Hawkeyes road games.) Inspired by a suggestion by a Hawkeyes fan on a Facebook fan page, the fans who aren't already facing the hospital turn in that direction at the end of the first quarter, and the entire stadium waves to the children watching the game.
Even cooler moment... for the Hawkeyes' first night home game in 2017 against Penn State, following suggestions from fan sites, the fans turned on their cell phone flashlights for The Wave. (Presumably, this will be the case for future night games in Iowa City.)
And like the Sam Foltz example, it's now spread beyond the Iowa fanbase. When ESPN's College GameDay visited Virginia Tech the week after the Penn State game, it aired a story about The Wave. Right after the story, Tom Rinaldi, who had narrated the feature, led Hokies fans in their own wave to the young Iowa patients. A few hours later, with Iowa visiting Michigan State, the Spartans fans joined the visiting Hawkeyes fans in The Wave.
Later in that season, Iowa's marching band joined in the fun, forming an outline of a hand during its halftime performance and then moving to "wave" in the young patients' direction.
Not even the end of the football season could stop The Wave. After one major snowstorm in 2018, the maintenance crew didn't immediately clear the entire field, instead creating an outline of a waving hand in the snow for patients to see. One young patient actually saw the crew at work.
And if that wasn't enough... early in the 2018 season, when Northern Iowa came to Kinnick, The Wave got taken beyond eleven. In addition to the traditional first-quarter Wave, the halftime show was built around the phenomenon. Country artist Pat Green, whose 2003 song "Wave on Wave" has become the unofficial anthem of The Wave, performed the song at halftime with members of both schools' marching bands. While the rest of both bands created "waves" on the field for patients to see. And, on top of all that, the traditional first-quarter wave had a special meaning for one Iowa player. His girlfriend had given birth to premature twin girls at the adjacent children's hospital eight days earlier, while Iowa was on a road trip. The UNI game was Iowa's next home game, and the babies were still in the hospital. Which meant that said player was waving at his own children.
During a 2014 game in New England between the Patriots and the Cincinatti Bengals, the Patriots put on a stadium-wide tribute to Bengals defensive end Devon Still's daughter Leah, who had recently been diagnosed with neuroblastoma. A music video in which Leah had taken part was shown on the big screen, the Patriots cheerleader's briefly donned Still's jersey, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft made a donation in Leah's name to the hospital where she was being treated. (This story, thankfully, has a happy ending, as Leah Still went into remission in 2015. In 2020, she crossed the critical five-year cancer-free mark beyond which the chances of a reocurrance are near zero.)
After 58 years of frustration and torment, the Eagles can FINALLY fly above the NFL once again. Toppling the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. The Gang wins the Super Bowl.
And if you're an Eagles fan who despises Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth for displaying what many considered no excitement for the Eagles and not shutting up about the Patriots during the game, here's a call of the final play courtesy of Patriots radio broadcaster Bob Socci, that displays total sportsmanship on his end. Having been with the Patriots in his short time, you would think he was devastated to see them lose after winning two in a short time span, but instead he has the diligence to congratulate the winning team after how starved they had been for that precious win.
In Super Bowl XXXII; the Denver Broncos - having defeated the defending champion Green Bay Packers to win their first Super Bowl following four lopsided defeats - celebrated their first Lombardi Trophy (and the first in the 3 games for veteran quarterback John Elway) by team owner Pat Bowlen proclaiming during the Lombardi Trophy presentation that "This one's for John!". Fast-forward 18 years; and the Broncos having won their third championship after beating the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. With John Elway as team president and the de facto top man in charge of personnel - during that game's trophy presentation; Elway dedicated that win to Bowlen, by this point having been stricken with Alzheimer's Disease (from which Bowlen succumbed to in 2019, just months before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame that year), proclaiming "This one's for Pat".
When beloved Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver retired in 2013, the team decided to make his retirement ceremony a public event, allowing members of the public to purchase tickets to attend. They sold out in less than fifteen minutes. In addition, the mayor of Green Bay announced that a wide receiver statue near the stadium entrance would be modified to display Driver's jersey number, and that the street leading to it would be renamed Donald Driver Way.* In addition to his accomplishments with the team, Driver was especially notable in Green Bay because he had spent his entire professional career with the Packers — a rarity in the sport, as it's common for players to move between teams, often multiple times over the course of their careers.
In general, any time a player is significantly injured, everyone on the field, including the opposing team, will make some kind of a show of support, whether that's kneeling down with their helmets off or coming over to check on the injured player and offer words of encouragement. They may be fierce rivals, but they also deeply respect each other and would never make light of another player's injury. In one case, several San Francisco 49ers players called out their own fans on social media for doing the "wave" while an injured player on the opposing team was being checked out. (There are a few players who are known to be exceptions, but those players stand out because it's so unusual, and many of them have lost respect from other players because of it.)
It took fifty years, a lot of rough seasons, numerous failed attempts, but on February 2nd, 2020. The Kansas City Chiefs succeeded in winning their second ever Super Bowl World Championship. Doubly so considering that the win also broke a two-decade long curse for well-respected veteran head coach Andy Reid, who had a prior history of fielding talented teams that always came up short in big games.
The entire Red Sox team forming a gigantic Group Hug after finally winning the World Series after all those years. The first person many of the players called following the final game was former Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, who had long been the subject of ridicule for having made the fielding error which cost the Red Sox their last shot at the World Series in 1986. All those accounts of fans across New England leaving 2004 World Series memorabilia at the graves of loved ones who never got to see their beloved Red Sox win a championship. Plus Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon saying that he would have given up Boston's dramatic Game 7 ALCS victory over the Yankees to prevent the death of Victoria Snelgrove, the college student who was killed during the post-game riots. Beautifully, wordlessly summed up in this Nike commercial which aired immediately following the final game.
The immortal words of Joe Buck will always bring a tear to longtime Red Sox fans' eyes. "Back to Foulke! Red Sox fans have longed to hear it! The Boston Red Sox are world champions!"
Even closer to home was WEEI's Joe Castiglione: "Swing and a ground ball, stabbed by Foulke, he has it, he underhands to first... AND THE BOSTON RED SOX ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 86 YEARS, THE RED SOX HAVE WON BASEBALL'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!"
For balance, we need a New York Yankees example: the 2010 home opener at Yankees Stadium, in which the team was presented with their 27th World Series rings. World Series hero and MVP Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui had been traded to the LA Angels, and this marked his first return to New York. That the Angels were selected as the opponent just so Matsui could get his ring with his old teammates in New York would be heartwarming enough, but the applause from the fans was deafening, and the entire Yankees squad ran out to hug him. Every time Matsui came up to bat in the series, the fans went crazy for him. There was so much love that when he scored a home run in the third game of the series, giving the Angels a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning...the New York fans still cheered for him. Loudly. Even the most avowed Yankee hater's heart was warmed. It helped that Matsui had given New York fans a great moment himself. In the midst of so many half-hearted and phony public apologies that amount to "I'm sorry I got caught," Matsui publicly apologized to the fans... for breaking his wrist trying to make a catch.
Some background is needed for this one; the 2011 season for the Boston Red Sox saw the team unceremoniously fall out of contention for the playoffs, and to make a long story short, the owners declined to renew manager Terry Francona's contract. Francona himself admitted that maybe he was no longer the man for the job; this was after the infamous "fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse" reports began to surface.note An article in The Boston Globe said starting pitchers would indulge in these plus video games on their nights off instead of being in the dugout boosting the team's morale; and that Francona's management was affected by tragedy in his personal life. The story escalated until Jon Lester spoke up to put it in perspective, saying that lack of team organization and focus caused the loss. Despite the spin for the benefit of the news media, there were - and still are - those who still see it as Francona being fired, and blamed for some of the team's failings that maybe he shouldn't be blamed for. Flash forward to 2012; Fenway Park celebrates its 100th anniversary. Francona, who of course is the one who managed the team to the World Series championship twice in four years after AN 86 YEAR DROUGHT, comes out to a thunderous ovation.
The St. Louis Cardinals two World Series championships since 1982 can be seen as heartwarming, considered how determined the team was, despite the odds against them.
2006, they won their 10th championship, while setting a record for the worst regular season record for a World Series champion (they finished with a record of 83-78). In other words, their regular season struggles turned into postseason magic as they defeated the San Diego Padres in the National League Division series in 4 games, the New York Mets in the National League Championship series in 7 games, and finally, the Detroit Tigers in 5 games to end a 24-year World Series drought in St. Louis.
Come August 25, 2011, the Cardinals find themselves 10½ games out of the Wild Card spot to the Atlanta Braves, yet by the end of the season, they came all the way back to clinch the Wild Card on the final day of the season. Then, they upset the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS and triumphed over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS. In the World Series against the Texas Rangers, they fell behind in the series 3 games to 2. But in game 6, the Cardinals rallied to win after being down to their last strike, not just once, but twice. The team then went on to win Game 7, to finish one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history.
In short, the Cardinals of 2006 and 2011 were deemed of having no chance of winning, but they ultimately, showing that no matter what the odds, they were determined and just would not quit.
Opening Day is a big deal in major league baseball, but the 2008 Red Sox opening at Fenway Park combines a Moment of Awesome with Heartwarming. Walking out of the Green Monster and across left field to the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch was Bill Buckner - long vilified by both the media and fans alike (but especially the media) for his error in the 1986 World Series. His emotional reaction to what happened next clearly says he wasn't expecting to be welcomed by the crowd, because Fenway gave him a long, thunderous standing ovation.
Before Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Atlanta Braves second baseman Mark Lemke remarked, "We should just split the trophy down the middle," in tribute to the Twins who had come back in the previous night from dropping three hard-fought games in Atlanta to even the series in front of a greater-than-capacity home crowd in the legendarily raucous Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
In a combo of Moment of Awesome and Heartwarming Moment was Jon Lester's no-hitter. This would be just another no hitter in a lot of cases, however, Lester was less than a year removed from beating non-Hodgkin lymphoma! What makes it go into Heartwarming-land was the parade of hugs that Lester had with his teammates, coaches, and other personnel.
On a similar scale, Johan Santana's no-hitter which was the first ever for the New York Mets after going just over 8,000 games without one. This came after Santana missed the previous season due to shoulder surgery. Left fielder Mike Baxter went out of his way to preserve the bid with a difficult catch that knocked him out of the game. Taking it Up to Eleven, manager Terry Collins let him continue pitching at his insistence and called him a "hero" in the late innings.
A Phillies fan, Steve Monforto, brought his little three year old girl, Emily, to a baseball game and at that game he caught his very first foul ball. He gave it to Emily and the little girl just tossed it into the field. The audience gasped. In a moment of heartwarming, Steve just hugged his daughter to let her know that everything is okay.
Oakland, California, May 9, 2010. Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden pitched the nineteenth perfect game in Major League history, a Moment of Awesome for anyone, but the fact that he did it on Mother's Day with his grandmother in the stands (his mother died when he was 18) qualifies it for this page.
On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga pitched an incredible game for the Detroit Tigers that would have been not only the 21st perfect game in major league history, but the first one in Tigers history, the third one that month, and the second one that week - accomplishments that had never before been made in baseball history. On the 27th out, Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians grounded between first and second base. Miguel Cabrera fielded, Galarraga ran to the bag, and caught the ball and beat by a full foot for the final out...except the first-base umpire, Jim Joyce, blew it, and called safe. The entire stadium erupted into boos and jeers and Joyce's Wikipedia page was vandalized within seconds. What's so heartwarming about this? Several things:
First: Mere seconds after making what should have been the final out, after having history and an incredible perfect game stolen away from him...Galarraga smiled and walked back to the mound. Any other player, indeed, the entire rest of the Tigers would gladly have gotten up in Joyce's face and shouted expletives and threats, and did so after Galarraga recorded the final out. Galarraga smiled. He had history stolen away from him and he took it with possibly the most grace and class any athlete had ever shown in sports.
Second: after the game, Joyce watched the replay and realized the magnitude of his blown call and how badly he had screwed it up. He asked to see Galarraga and apologized to his face for costing him the perfect game. Galarraga accepted the apology and a hug. "Nobody's perfect," he said.
Third: The next day, the next time the Tigers and Joyce took the field, Galarraga handed the lineup card to Joyce, who shook his hand and patted him on the shoulder. If these three examples are not some of the greatest examples of sportsmanship and grace in the history of the sport, nothing is. Armando Galarraga missed one part of history, but he and Jim Joyce certainly ended up making it in some fashion. Plus, the Tigers surprised Galarraga with a Corvette out on the field.
Joyce was openly crying at the plate when Galarraga handed him the lineup card. Even though I hated him about 16 hours previous, I couldn't help but feel bad for him when I saw this on TV today. He handled his job with an amazing amount of dignity and was not afraid to admit that he was wrong, a bit of a plague in baseball umpiring this season. Restores some of the faith I've lost in many sports for being too proud and acting like sportsmanship is a relic of the past.
"Dallas Bradens perfect game was thrilling. Roy Halladays perfect game was art. But Armandos Galarragas perfect game was a lesson in grace."
Also, Galarraga finished his game off by retiring the first batter after the blown call. You guessed it, people are congratulating him on pitching a 28-out perfect game.
And as a Funny Moment, on August 20, 2010, Galarraga faced the Indians for the first time since the near-perfect game and tossed 4 2/3 innings of perfect baseball before giving up a hit (finished with a seven-inning shutout). A reporter asked Galarraga how many Indians he retired in row, and Galarraga smiled and said, "Forty-two," while pointing at a plaque in his locker commemorating the 28-out game.
The Minnesota Twins saluting Bobby Cox, in his last season as Manager of former world-series rivals the Atlanta Braves at Target Field on June 11, 2010.
Later that same year, Cox's last game of his career as a manager was the fourth game of the National League Division Series, in which the Braves were eliminated by the San Francisco Giants. After the game, Cox came out of the dugout for a big round of applause from the fans and both teams. During the post-game conference, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was somewhat emotional, because of the high regard that he had for Cox.
When the Texas Rangers went through their amazing postseason run in 2010, they celebrated as most teams would celebrate - with champagne. But they knew that star player Josh Hamilton had previous alcohol issues, so when he was with them, they celebrated with ginger ale instead. It brings a tear to the eye to see teammates thinking about each other so much.
In June 2010, Toronto Blue Jays utility infielder and defensive specialist John McDonald had left the team to be with his father Jack, who would eventually lose his battle with liver cancer. Jack's last request of his son: "Hit a home run for me." With just 13 home runs in his entire 12-year career to that date, it seemed like it would be a long time coming. On June 21, shortly after returning to the team, McDonald was brought in as a defensive replacement for second baseman Aaron Hill, and would get a chance to hit in the bottom of the ninth. In his first at-bat back, John McDonald would hit that home run for Jack. On Father's Day.
The Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series after not winning one for 86 years. The same goes for the Chicago White Sox, who won the World Series the year after the Red Sox won their first, after an 88-year drought. And a decade later, the White Sox' crosstown rivals the Chicago Cubs, who broke an 108-year drought in 2016.
His funeral is also considered CMOH and CMOA, as well as Tear Jerker. Carried into Holy Name Cathedral by his former teammates, casket covered by his #10 flag, he was eulogized by longtime broadcast partner Pat Hughes, and by the Cubs owner and the Commissioner of Baseball. Afterwards, the hearse was driven north around Wrigley Field (starting at 3rd base, of course), and his ashes were later scattered on the playing field there.
On the evening of May 1, 2011, during a baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets, news stations began reporting that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Many people around the stadium learned about this on the Internet through their cell phones. The reactions of the fans of both teams, considered one of the biggest rivalries in baseball, can be seen here. As one YouTube commentator put it, "At that moment, there weren't Mets fans, and there weren't Phillies fans. There were Americans."
There is an excellent (~20 minute) documentary on it .
After the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, the Yankees honored the people of Boston by holding a special moment of silence before their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks the next day, displaying "United We Stand" with the Yankee's and Red Sox logos on the display boards outside Yankee Stadium, and playing popular Red Sox song "Sweet Caroline" at the end of the 3rd inning. In response to this, the Red Sox thanked them on their official Twitter account. That's right everyone, the Red Sox thanked the Yankees.
For context, "Sweet Caroline" has been played during every Red Sox home game for over a decade.
And it wasn't just the Yankees (though they were the ones who started it), almost every team that had a home series within that week played "Sweet Caroline" in tribute.
Also, after the Red Sox won their first post-bombing game (they were in Cleveland for a 3-game series), the Indians played Boston's victory song "Dirty Water."
The Red Sox's first home game after the bombings definitely counts, and crosses with Moment of Awesome. Aside from David Ortiz's Badass Boast, at the traditional point when "Sweet Caroline" would play, the fans were in for a surprise when Neil Diamond himself came out onto the field to lead them into it. And of course, the cherry on top was that they won the game.
This could be seen as the Yankees returning the favor: Boston's first game after the September 11 attacks ended with Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York", which has been used as the Yankees' exit music for decades.
It all culminated in the 2013 World Series, where for the first time in 95 years, Fenway Park was the location of a series-clinching game. And Boston won it, with Joe Buck calling "Boston Strong!" in his commentary.
At the start of the 2011 Baseball season, the San Francisco Giants were awarded with World Series Rings for their victory in the previous year. While the players were given their rings amidst ceremony and fanfare, Kruk and Kuipnote Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper were unexpectedly presented with their own rings in-between innings during the second home game of the season. The representatives from the Tiffany & Co jewelery company personally went to the announcement booth and praised Kruk and Kuip's awesome work, leaving them utterly stunned at their new rings.
Kruk: ...Well, I think that was the best between-inning ever.
The Kansas City Royals had been the butt of the Baseball world, until 2014 when they surprised everyone by making it to their first World Series in twenty-nine years. While they didn't win, the entire country rallied behind the Royals.
A year later, the Royals finished the job and won their first World Series since 1985. It can't be said they didn't earn it! It culminated in them returning home to a parade and rally estimated to have drawn at least 800,000 people. No one can say the Royals' fans don't love them.
The 2015 Chicago Cubs winning their first postseason series clincher in twelve years, earning them a trip to the National League Championship Series for the for time since their infamous 2003 season. While they ended being swept by the Mets, Game 4 of the NLDS will go down as one of the best Cubs moments in history hearing the whole crowd singing in unison "Go Cubs Go!" While the song is only a recent tradition, this one felt more special and heartwarming than usual. Even the announcer was delighted: "A strikeout! He got 'em! THE CUBS WIN!" The fact that some were predicting the current Cubs team to win it all in a five year window has offered the North Side of Chicago some hope.
Speaking of, just one year after being swept by the New York Mets, the Cubs finally finally broke their NL pennant drought, earning their first trip to the World Series 1945. If you didn't tear up watching an entire sea of Cubs fans celebrating, then you're either heartless or a Cardinals fan.
Scratch that. They won their first World Series in over a century.Everyone was celebrating.
This is just eighteen minutes worth of reactions to the win. There are plenty more on the internet.
Like his call during the 2004 Red Sox win, Joe Buck's words will live on in Chicago Cubs fandom forever:
" This is going to be a tough play, Bryant! The Cubs!... WIN THE WORLD SERIES! BRYANT MAKES THE PLAY! IT'S OVER AND THE CUBS! HAVE FINALLY WON IT ALL!!"
By that token, his call announcing that the Cubs were going to the World Series:
"Left side...out! OUT!THE CUBS HAVE WON THE PENNANT!
A day before Game 7, Cubs fans took a pilgrimage to the grave site of Johnny Evers, 2nd baseman of the 1907/1908 Chicago Cubs World Series team. In an attempt of good luck Cubs fans laid out mementos to the beloved Cub.
Another Crowning Moment came for veteran catcher Dave "Grandpa" Ross. At the start of the 2016 season, he announced that he would retire from playing at the end of the year, and he managed to go out in truly awesome style: His final plate appearance in the Major Leagues was a home run in Game Seven of the World Series.
The outside brick walls of Wrigley Field became covered by a variety of messages, written in chalk, by fans. Many consisting of memorials of loved ones who died before they could see their team win it all, or simply heartfelt thank-yous to the team.
Near the end of the 2016 season, José Fernández, a rising star pitcher with the Miami Marlins, was killed in a boating accident. The Marlins' next game turned into a tribute to their fallen ace, with the entire team wearing his number 16. And then the Marlins' leadoff hitter Dee Gordon, who hadn't hit a homer all season, sent the third pitch he saw into the right-field stands, crossing the plate with tears in his eyes and then gesturing to the sky in honor of Fernández.
This in-stadium wedding proposal. During a Yankees-Red Sox game, a fan trying to propose to his girlfriend lost the ring, and was Caught on the Jumbotron to boot. But the nicest thing is that rather than jeering him, everyone surrounding them actively got up to help search for the ring while the guy's girlfriend comforted him. Eventually, the ring was retrieved (from the girlfriend's jean cuff, to boot) and the proposal went successfully to the cheers of the whole stadium.
Houston Astros winning their first World Series. 9 weeks after Harvey devastated Houston. The Astros were once the WORST team in Baseball akin to a joke and now arguably the best. Unfortunately, its been tainted with the reveal two years later that the Astros stole pitching signs for most of the 2017 season, including the series.
The last game of the Minnesota Twins' 2018 season was also the last for Twins icon Joe Mauer, a Twin Cities native who was one of the best players in the game and arguably the best hitting catcher in history for the first nine years of his career. Sadly, a serious concussion in 2013 forced the team to move him to first base, and he was never quite the same hitter again. With his big contract with the Twins running out in 2018, and Mauer being on record as seriously considering retirement, the team decided that if it was going to be his last game (which proved to be true), he'd go out in style. Mauer did his part, doubling in the seventh inning in his last at-bat, but the real heartwarming moment came in the top of the ninth... when the Twins moved him to catcher (subbing him out after one pitch).
On July 1, 2019, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Texas. 11 days later, in their first home game since his death, pitchers Taylor Cole and Felix Peña threw a combined 13-0 no-hitter, while wearing his name and number 45 on their backs. Doubles as a Moment of Awesome.
Motor Car Racing
The late Stirling Moss is universally regarded to have been the greatest driver never to win the Formula One World Championship, but he would have won it in 1958 had he not appealed on Mike Hawthorn's behalf after Hawthorn was disqualified from the Portuguese Grand Prix. What makes Moss' sporting gesture all the more heartwarming is that Hawthorn would never have gotten another chance to win the title - he died in a high-speed car accident just three months after the season ended.
Two years earlier, in 1956, the great Juan Manuel Fangio had gone into the final race of the season with an eight-point lead over Peter Collins. To win the title, Collins had to win the race and set the fastest lap, and Fangio had to score nothing. When Fangio's car broke down, Collins looked set to do just that... but in an astonishing act of sportsmanship, he chose to hand his car over to Fangio (which drivers were allowed to do in those days), essentially gifting his Argentine teammate the title. Fangio came home secondnote as he shared the drive with Collins, they were both classified in second and shared the points between them to win his fourth title, and his third in a row, while Collins (like Moss) would never win the tile himself, being killed in a crash at the 1958 German Grand Prix.
After the death of legendDale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500, NASCAR was in mourning. But 4 wins in the 2001 season helped get NASCAR back on its feet:
The Dura Lube 400 the next week at Rockingham, was won by Steve Park, Earnhardt's first driver. Afterwards, he did a backwards victory lap (or a Polish victory lap as it is called) while holding aloft a #3 cap.
The Cracker Barrel 400 in Atlanta, the fourth race of the season. Kevin Harvick, Earnhardt's replacement (with a new number, #29 instead of #3) held off a hard-charging Jeff Gordon to win by 0.006 seconds, one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history. After the race, Harvick performed a burnout in tribute to Earnhardt and did a Polish victory lap holding three fingers in honor of Earnhardt.
After winning the NAPA Auto Parts 500 in California, Rusty Wallace, one of Earnhardt's big competitors, did a Polish victory lap while holding an Earnhardt flag out his car windownote worth noting is that race was held on what would have been Earnhardt's 50th birthday.
But the best one was when Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Pepsi 400 in July, the very track his dad died at. It was almost as if Junior had exorcised the demons of his father's death.
It should be noted that the reverse victory lap in the above examples was made popular by Alan Kulwicki. Why is this important? Because Rusty Wallace's reverse victory lap for Earnhardt in 2001 harkens back to the last race of the 1993 season. Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison had been killed in separate air crashes earlier in the year. Dale Earnhardt and Wallace were 1st and 2nd in the championship standings going into the last race, during the height of an intense rivalry between the two. Wallace won the race, but Earnhardt won the championship. Both drivers drove a reverse victory lap, side-by-side, one carrying a #7 flag for Kulwicki, and the other carrying a #28 flag for Allison.
Another auto racing moment: the first Indy Car race after Dan Wheldon's death was in his adopted hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. Turn 10 of the circuit and the actual street following it was renamed in dedication to Wheldon and his race-winning pass in 2005. After Hélio Castroneves won the 2012 race for the third time, he climbed the fence in front of the grandstands at Wheldon's turn, one he didn't climb in his first two victories. The true heartwarmer comes when he crossed the track to climb the other fence and pounded the street sign to honor his fallen friend.
Then in the 2012 Indianapolis 500, you have Bryan Herta (the man who gave Wheldon his winning ride in the 2011 500) do a ceremonial lap in Wheldon's car before the race began. When the race ended under caution after an accident on the last lap, winner Dario Franchitti and runner-ups Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan came to the finish line in a three-wide "W" formation. Franchitti's entire interview in Victory Lane was how he dedicated his win to "D-Dubs" and that, wherever he is, he's smiling because three of his closest friends were competing for the win to the end.
Ayrton Senna, legendary Formula One driver known for being highly competitive, focused and stubborn, had a few of these over his lifetime, including once chewing out another driver for pulling a stunt on the track that could have killed the driver behind him. After his fatal crash, he was found to have a furled Austrian flag in his cockpit. It seems that Senna had intended to dedicate his 42nd victory to the memory of Roland Ratzenberger - a driver who had been killed in qualifying for the race. 3 MILLION people turned out onto the streets in Brazil to be tribute, and it was later found he left millions of dollars to children's charities. Not bad from someone with a reputation for being arrogant and standoffish.
On a related note Max Mosley, the President of the FIA, was attacked for not attending Senna's funeral when almost the entire Formula One establishment turned out for it. It turned out that he had been at Ratzenberger's funeral instead, as he said: "Roland had been forgotten so I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna's. I thought it was important that somebody went to his." Mosley is a controversial figure to say the least but this act of common decency merits a huge amount of respect for the man.
On the day of Senna's fatal accident, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series was racing at Talladega. Race winner Dale Earnhardt made a small tribute after taking the checkered flag, and the ESPN broadcast made reference to Senna's death during a restart around mid-race.
After 11 previous tries ended in several near misses and crashes, Indy fan-favorite Tony Kanaan finally broke through to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2013. The cheers and tears from all involved afterward was a sight to behold.
Many years ago he had given a fan of his who was about to undergo surgery a good luck charm. Before the 2013 race, the now fully grown and healthy woman mailed the charm back to him, saying he needed the good luck now. When asked about it in victory lane, he pulled the charm out of his pocket, revealing it had been with him for every lap of the Indy 500.
The 2014 Bathurst 1000, the biggest event on Australia's V8 Supercars calendar: Warren Luff and Craig Lowndes were pushing their cars as hard as they could go, even though it was only a practice session, when Luff lost control. Even though he was behind Lowndes, he just couldn't scrub off speed fast enough going through the corner, and ended up smashing into Lowndes from behind before ending up inverted in his own car. Instead of Lowndes being all pissed off and going into super-ragey Hulk mode, he went to go take care of his fellow driver. He made sure he wasn't injured, he made sure he could get out of the car under his own power, and in the end, they shared a hug.
Fernando Alonso decided to skip the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix to compete in the Indy 500 instead, so McLaren got Jenson Button to come out of retirement for one last race. Before the race began Alonso, despite needing to prepare for Indy, called to wish Button good luck in his car and exchange light banter with him. It's probably the only time in history the phrase "I'm gonna pee in your seat!" (said by Button) is a Heartwarming Moment.
The 1988 Daytona 500, which ended with NASCAR legend Bobby Allison winning the racenote the final victory in Allison's career before his career, and nearly his life, ended in a frightening crash early in the 1988 Miller High Life 500 that June; with his son Davey coming in 2nd. The victory also made the elder Allison the oldest winner of the Daytona 500 at the age of 50.
The beginning of CBScoverage of the 1993 DieHard 500, the second race after the death of Davey Allison in a helicopter crash, included a poem read by Davey's widow Liz and Davey's uncle Donnie driving the #28 Texaco/Havoline Ford Thunderbirdnote in its first race since Allison's death, as team owner Robert Yates decided to have that car skip the Miller Genuine Draft 400 one week after his death; being quoted as saying "It's hard to race with tears in your eyes." during the warm-up lap as the song "The Fans" by Alabama played during a montage of Allison's life and career before giving way to Robby Gordon for that racenote unfortunately, Gordon would crash early in the race; resulting in Gordon being dropped for Lake Speed until Ernie Irvan bolted from the Morgan-McClure team that September
This was followed by the 1993 Goody's 500 race in Martinsville which marked the first victory for the #28 Texaco-Havoline Thunderbird since Ernie Irvan succeeded the late Davey Allison in that car; winning in dominant fashion. It was later noted that team owner Robert Yates and the team's crew were close to tears following the victory, as was Irvan, who took off his fire suit in Victory Lane to reveal a Davey Allison T-shirt under the fire suit.
In 1998, after twenty years of trying, and twenty years of frustration, Dale Earnhardt finally took the checkered flag in the Daytona 500. During his victory celebration, every member of every pit crew came out to pit road to shake his hand in congratulations of capturing the one prize that had, until that day, eluded him throughout his career.
The 2019 Daytona 500 would become fans of Joe Gibbs Racing, as the first official race following the death of Joe's son and team president J.D. a month earlier from a degenerative neurological disorder saw Denny Hamlin not only win his 2nd Daytona 500 in 4 yearsnote having won in 2016 in overtime after the race was marred by several late crashes, but the JGR Toyota Camry cars sweep the top three positions with Kyle Busch and Erik Jones behind Hamlin. Hamlin's victory doubled as an Earn Your Happy Ending case in that, much like Dale Earnhardt's 1998 Daytona 500 victory, it also snapped a lengthy winless streak of 47 races.
ESPN announcer Benny Parsons' comments following the death of veteran independent driver J.D. McDuffie during Lap 5 of the 1991 Budweiser at the Glen in Watkins Glen, New York; beginning with expressing words of comfort to J.D.'s widow Jean and then explaining why NASCAR drivers (and race-car drivers in general) do what they do in view of the risks being taken.
Benny Parsons: "Jean, I know exactly what you're going through sweetheart. And, you fans out there, you wonder how these guys can get in these cars can go back out and restart this race. Hey, it's their job, it's what they do and there's a hundred thousand people here this afternoon to watch them do that job. There's not a one of these drivers that wants to be in that racecar right now, they want to be in the garage area hugging their wife, their girlfriend, their mom, their crewmembers, whoever. I don't want to be here now, I want to be over there looking at Ned (Jarrett), looking at Bob (Jenkins) and just not saying anything. But we've got a job to do, and that's report to you who wins, who loses, and what happens during the day. Jean, we all love you and we're sorry."
The beginning part (where Parsons addressed Jean McDuffie) is especially poignant considering Parsons' wife, Connie, had passed away two months earlier.
Ryan Newman walking with his daughters after having been discharged two days after a last lap crash at the 2020 Daytona 500note delayed after the original Sunday race date was postponed due to rain shortly after the race began that at first glance appeared so severe that many who saw the crash thought Newman was dead.
The World War I Christmas Truces. As the first five months wound down toward Christmas, the troops in the English and German trenches at many sites would often negotiate brief ceasefires to retrieve their fallen for burial. As Christmas grew closer, both sets of troops began to loudly sing carols to spread some cheer in the dreary time that was trench warfare. After a while, both sides noticed the other was doing it. They started taking turns serenading each other with carols. After a time, they began sending messengers across the No Man's Land bearing messages of cheer and sometimes gifts (packages from home, food, etc.). Eventually, there were many reported instances of the sides coming out into the No Man's Land on Christmas Day, setting up a small pitch, and playing some pickup football with each other. It was even reported in a couple of instances that they didn't divide into Germany and England sides, but they shed their uniforms, mixed troops, used the military uniforms as kits, and played away. For one beautiful moment in the War to End All Wars, the sides came together despite the war.
There were many documented orders that several commanding officers had ordered their troops not to partake in such events, but the troops ignored them and did it anyway.
Ditto the response from fans of Everton FC, Liverpool's bitter rivals. The sight of blue-and-white Everton scarves among the floral tributes laid down in memory of the dead is a bright moment during a dark time in British football history.
There are always football scarves at the memorial to the Hillsborough dead, and not just Liverpool and Nottingham Forest scarves, scarves from teams all over the country, from Plymouth to Celtic.
Equally, in and around the Anniversary of the Disaster, opposition fans almost invariably hold up banners calling for justice for the 96, or more generally, in memorial.
When the report for the disaster was finally finished in 2012, Everton FC yet again showed their support with their official mascots. When the final verdict was handed down in 2016, revealing that the true culprit was in fact police negligence, over 30,000 people showed up in red and blue at St. George's Hall to pay their respects, including Kenny Dalglish reading "Footprints" and Andy Burnham, the MP who spearheaded the renewed inquiries into the disaster.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, not only did wives of the Liverpool team help traumatized families, but Kenny Dalglish made sure that at least one member of staff attended every funeral, with Dalglish himself attending several, including 4 in one day. Regardless of what you think of the man, that was noble.
The disaster also influenced the outcome of the league, since it caused Arsenal's match against Liverpool to be postponed until the end of the season, both teams were aiming for the title. When the match was finally played, the Arsenal players all walked out with bouquets of flowers; which they then handed to the crowd.
The youngest victim of the disaster was 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley. His 9-year-old cousin, a certain Steven Gerrard, went on to play for Liverpool, serving as the captain of his club for nearly twelve years, and eventually, his country, being lauded by the likes of Zinedine Zidane as the greatest midfield player of his generation and one of the greatest Liverpool players of all time, renowned for neverevergiving up, even when he could barely walk, near singlehandedly winning almost every single trophy possible. What could drive a man like that? Well, that's the heartwarming part: in his autobiography in 2006, when he revealed that he played for the sake of his cousin, Jon-Paul, dedicating his career to him.
The day before the 27th Anniversary of the Disaster, Liverpool played Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League at Anfield, and when the traditional pre-match rendition of club anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" started up, the entire stadium sang it in unison - something helped by the fact that Dortmund had previously adopted it as their club anthem. Liverpool went on to win 4-3, in what immediately went down as a classic, and the moment was nominated by FIFA for their inaugural Fan Award.
Spain winning the World Cup for the first time. The winning goal was scored by Andrés Iniesta, who immediately stripped off his jersey to show a message written on the shirt underneath: "Dani Jarque, always with us." Jarque had passed away the year before of a heart attack.
The conduct of Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas was extraordinary. Right after Spain won the game against Portugal, Casillas ran across the field to comfort his Portuguese counterpart, who was sobbing at the loss.
After winning the championship game, Casillas was so overcome with emotion that when his girlfriend, who is a well-known reporter, tried to interview him, he simply thanked his parents, his brother, his friends, and finally her-by kissing her on live television.
November the 29th, Spanish La Liga's most important match (FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid, AKA "El Clásico") was played. Usually, players come out to the field while the local team's anthem is played (and sung by the fans at the stadium). What happened is that the PA started playing the anthem too soon, the crowd started singing...and the anthem was quickly turned off. 90,000+ fans kept singing the whole anthema cappella. (And then the players came out and the fans sang the whole anthem again.)
The story of the last days of Antonio Puerta, Sevilla FC's promising left fullback. It's a long set of examples.
First, he collapsed during a match - Ivica Dragutinovic's and Andrés Palop's first reaction was to race the fuck out to check on him.
When he gets up, he collapses a second time, so he's rushed to a hospital. He got into a coma. Thousands of Sevilla fans gathered near the team's stadium to keep vigil. Then, they were joined by Sevilla's rivals, Betis - and the rivalry between both clubs is fucking bitter. At some point, people under the stadium started to sing Sevilla's anthem. It was initiated by a Betis supporter.
Unfortunately, Puerta died after a few days. One of the club's first decisions? His unborn son will be granted an honorary place in the team. And there's going to be an annual cup to commemorate him.
Then, they've tried to secure his number, 16, but the Spanish Football Federation couldn't allow it. So they gave it to David Prieto, one of Puerta's closest friends.
In the UEFA Supercup match against AC Milan, everyone wore a shirt with Puerta's surname on the back. Every goal was dedicated to his memory and when Milan's Clarence Seedorf was being substituted, he took off his shirt and ran through the field showing Puerta's surname on it to the crowd.
To this day, the crowd on Sevilla's home turf, Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan is at its absolute loudest at the 16th minute.
And last but not least, when Spain won the European Cup, Puerta's friend and famously ruthless Real Madrid defender and captain Sergio Ramos wore a shirt with his photo on it.
A matter of days after the Bataclan gun attacks of November 2015, France were due to play a friendly match with England. It should be noted that the England-France rivalry goes far beyond mere sports. Two major candidates for a de facto world war before World War I — the Seven Years War and the French Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars — were fought between England and France. The two countries have been kicking the hell out of each other for a thousand years - this is a rivalry that goes back to the days of William the Conqueror and there are still sections of the English population holding a grudge about that (just as there are still sections of the French population holding a grudge about the execution of Joan of Arc). The English like to think of the French as effete, smelly frog eaters and the French like to think of the English as beer swilling thugs obsessed with roast beef. Footballing encounters are therefore predictably fierce and hard-fought, with lots of barracking from the fans. But not this time. Instead, the French team and fans arrived to find Wembley, the ancestral home of English football, lit up in the colours of the French flag, the French national motto of 'Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité' emblazoned on the side of the stadium, the traditional vast St. George's Flag formed of cards at the home end replaced by a French tricolore, an impeccably observed minute's silence and the entire stadium, all 71,000 fans, joining in with a thunderous rendition of 'La Marseillaise', the French national anthem (and, appropriately, a stirring battle hymn), thereafter, the words projected on the big screen so everyone could get them right. Then, when Lassana Diarra, a French player whose cousin had been killed in the attacks, came on, he was greeted to a unanimous standing ovation. While England won 2-0, beating France for the first time in a long time, this was considered secondary to the occasion. Some things, after all, are more important than football.
And around 18 months later, England suffered two terrorist attacks in quick succession; the Manchester Arena Bombing, and the Borough Market/London Bridge attack, in the space of less than two weeks. 11 days after the second attack, England and France had another friendly football match, this time in Paris, at the Stade de France, the ancestral home of French football. And when the England fans arrived, the French returned the favour: the minute's silence was impeccably observed, the traditional tricolore of cards was replaced by a St George's Flag, and the French fans joined in with both the English national anthem, 'God Save the Queen', and with Oasis' 'Don't Look Back in Anger', which had been adopted as an anthem by survivors of the Manchester bombing. France won 3-2, but as last time, that was secondary. England and France may make play at hating each other, but they hate each other like family.
Real Madrid's board's immediate reaction to the Smolensk catastrophe was to speak with Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek and arrange black armbands and a minute of silence during that day's El Clasico with Barcelona.
FC Barcelona's Eric Abidal was diagnosed with a liver tumor on March 15. It was a small one, but it could mean having to miss the remainder of the season. Players from other teams (even eternal rival Real Madrid) showed him support. Abidal was able to recover and slowly get back to playing. On May 28, Barcelona managed to win their 4th UEFA Champions League on New Wembley, with Abidal on the starting team. Carles Puyol (team captain) decided to let Abidal pick up the trophy. From operation to celebration in less than two months.
During the 1966 World Cup, the North Korean team was billeted in Middlesbrough, a somewhat rough working-class town in north-east England. The Korean War had ended relatively recently and there were fears that the Teessiders could get nasty towards the team because of it. Instead, partly because of their underdog status and partly because they played in red - the same colour as Middlesbrough FC, they more or less adopted them, with the Smoggies cheering for them at everyone of their games and even following them to Liverpool to see them play against Portugal. To this day there are North Koreans who think fondly of Middlesbrough.
Japan winning the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, just a few months after the massive tsunami/earthquake.
Compared to the above a relatively minor example but during an Everton FC match versus Bolton, Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard managed to, with wind assistance, score a goal from one goal to the other. While undeniably awesome (thanks to their position, it is common for keepers to go their whole careers without scoring a single goal), what made it heartwarming was that Howard knew how much that would be embarrassing for his Bolton counterpart and refused to make a big deal out of it and was the only member of the Everton team not celebrating. You can't get much more sportsmanship than that.
The farewells of David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson. To clarify, these are two of the longest running managers in England (Ferguson is the longest, managing Manchester United for a staggering 26 years, while Moyes is the third longest with an impressive 11 years at Everton FC). Towards the end of the 2012/13 season it was announced that Ferguson was finally retiring and would be replaced by Moyes. The farewells of both managers are certainly happy TearJerkers, from Ferguson's passionate and from the heart speech to Moyes lap of appreciation around Goodison Park while being visibly stunned at the amount of love and adoration from the fans, capped by Ferguson leaving with yet another Premier League title and Moyes leaving Everton after they beat arch rivals Liverpool in the tables twice in a row, the first time this had happened in decades. What a way for both men to go.
US international and Leeds United player Robbie Rodgers had come out as gay and retired all at once in early February 2013, later admitting that he felt he had to retire because he never thought he would be able to put up with the abuse that would be hurled at him as an openly gay player. There was a huge outpouring of support immediately, so much so that a just few months after he decided to play again and was signed to the LA Galaxy. When he was subbed on in his first match back, making him the first openly gay male to play on a major US sports league, he was met with an ovation.
In the 2013 Confederations Cup, severe underdog Tahiti (they had only ONE professional player!) played against Nigeria, Spain and Uruguay. They scored all of one goal and lost all games 6-1, 10-0 and 8-0. They also became the darlings of all Brazilian fans (and to a lesser degree everyone else), finished their last game holding a sign where it read "Thank you, Brazil" (to which the fans went wild) and - since they knew they'd likely lose - celebrated wildly when they scored that single goal. It turns out that, when you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain.
Doubles as Moment of Awesome: Peruvian team Cienciano winning the 2003 edition of the Copa Sudamericana against nothing less than River Plate (considered by that time, the favorite of the tournament), making them the first Peruvian team ever to win an international soccer tournament. Even better? They did it after having two players sent off! The victory was so epic that it was celebrated by not just Cienciano's fans, but also fans of pretty much every other Peruvian team.
In December 2011, in the Dutch Eredivisie, Feyenoord were playing a home match against their rival PSV. The match was visited by a fan named Dirk, who had terminal cancer. To support him, the other Feyenoord fans in the stadium all held their scarfs out in the twelfth minute (as a reference to the Twelfth Man) and sang You'll never walk alone. The most heartwarming part? The PSV fans joining in as well. See for yourself.
United States star Abby Wambach had played her whole career without winning a Women's World Cup, coming agonizingly close in 2011. She even stated on the record that she would give every accolade she had ever received back just for one. Then came the 2015 tournament. When a 35-year-old Wambach was subbed on in the final, she was given the captain's armband, meaning she would be the one to lift it at game's end (they were up 5-2 at the time, with less than 10 minutes left). And when the final blasts on the whistle sounded, she was sobbing with joy. She and Christine Rampone (the last member of the 1999 World Cup-winning side still on the team) were the ones who hoisted the trophy together.
Zambia's shootout win over Côte d'Ivoire in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Final had this trope written all over it. Back in 1993, the Zambia national teamnote save for the captain, who was then playing in Europe and had made his own travel arrangements was on its way to Senegal for a World Cup qualifier when their plane crashed into the Atlantic just after takeoff from Gabon's capital of Libreville (where it had stopped for fuel). All on board perished. The 2012 Cup of Nations host? Gabon. With the final held in Libreville, just inland from the crash site. Needless to say, the Chipolopolonote "Copper Bullets" dedicated their win to their fallen predecessors.
On November 28, 2016, Brazilian team AFC Chapecoense were flying to play Colombian team Atlético Nacional in the final of the Copa Sudamericana (second most prestigious club competition in South America after the Copa Libertadores, equivalent to the UEFA Cup/Europa League in Europe), the biggest match in the club's history. Tragically, the flight crashed, killing 71 people including all but three players of the first team squad, as well as most of the club's staff, directors and one of the coaches. Only one of the players is expected to ever be able to play again. The responses were immediate:
Players and fans from across the world paid tribute, especially in Europe where a lot of Brazilian stars play, and in the case of the players, often to friends among the victims - Arsenal defender Gabriel broke down on live television while remembering some of the deceased.
Clubs in every single league around the world held a minute's silence prior to their matches and wore black armbands.
Atlético Nacional petitioned the South American football governing body, CONMEBOL, to award the title to Chapecoense - CONMEBOL agreed and awarded Atlético Nacional the Centennial Fair Play Award as well in recognition for the gesture.
Brazilian and Argentinian clubs offered to loan Chapecoense players for free for the following season, while the Brazilian clubs also requested that the Brazilian FA protect Chapecoense from relegation for three years (meaning that they couldn't drop out of the division no matter how badly they did) - though Chapecoense declined the offer.
Deceased Chapecoense goalkeeper Danilo was awarded MVP by fans of all Brazilian clubs.
Neither Chapecoense nor Atlético Mineiro were fined for failing to play their final league fixture due to the circumstances.
Brazil and Colombia announced that they would play a friendly for the victims of the disaster.
And European giants Barcelona have offered Chapecoense a place at their annual Joan Gamper Trophy next summer.
On Wednesday 14th of December 2016, Sunderland were about to play Chelsea at home. But before the match, terminally ill 5-year-old fan Bradley Lowery was brought on in full kit in the arms of then Sunderland Captain Jermaine Defoe (the two having become very close, with Defoe breaking down in tears when remembering Lowery after he died) and fulfilled his dream of scoring for Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, taking a penalty - while the keeper theatrically dived the wrong way - being applauded all the while. Then, in the fifth minute, the entire stadium gave him a standing ovation.
And the following month, when Match of the Day (the BBC's regular football highlights and analysis program and an integral part of British culture since 1964) did their regular 'Goal of the Month' segment, as voted for by the public, the British public voted unanimously for Lowery's penalty. No, I'm not crying, you're crying.
In April 2019, Leeds United and Aston Villa met at Leeds' Elland Road stadium for a league match. Both were in the playoff places, but Leeds could remain in contention for automatic promotion if they won. With 18 minutes to go, a Villa player went down injured, and Villa, as is the custom, attempted to stop play so he could receive treatment. Leeds ignored them and scored, and Villa were so furious that a mass brawl erupted, halting play for several minutes and resulting in one of Villa's players getting sent off. The heartwarming part was how Leeds' manager, Marcelo Bielsa, defused the situation: by ordering his team to let Villa equalize. His players complied (except for Pontus Jansson), Villa scored straight from the kick-off, and the match eventually finished 1-1, costing Leeds their chance of automatic promotion but earning them the 2019 FIFA Fair Play award for their sportsmanship.
In July of that year, Carson Pickett, a defender with the Orlando Pride in the National Women's Soccer League who was born without a left hand or forearm, was involved in a cute version of this. Joseph Tidd, a 2-year-old born with the same limb difference on the same arm, was brought by his father to the front row of Exploria Stadium during warmups... and this happened.
In December 2000, Everton were playing West Ham United. Late in the game, the game was 1-1 and both teams were looking for the winning goal. The ball had been crossed into the West Ham box with Evertons goalkeeper lying on the pitch outside the area after injuring his knee attempting a clearance. Rather than putting the ball into an empty net, Paolo Di Canio caught the ball to enable the keeper to get treatment. This act saw him awarded with the FIFA Fair Play award and marked a turnaround for the player, having been banned for 11 matches in 1998 after shoving the referee.
Andy Murray winning Wimbledon in 2013, becoming the first home-grown, native-born British tennis player to win Wimbledon in 36 years (since Virginia Wade on the women's side) and the men's singles in 77 years (since Fred Perry).
At Wimbledon 2010, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut took part in an epic match that lasted for three whole days- not because of bad weather, but simply because that's how long they played for. After a score of 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 68-70, the match was finally won by Isner, 11 hours of play after it started. The previous record for length was six hours, shattered by the length of the fifth set alone (which was eight hours itself). Both sides played with the utmost respect for the other. However, after it was all said and done, when both men headed for the traditional post-game handshake, it never happened. Instead it was a post-game hug, a fitting end to the longest match in the history of tennis.
Near the end of the second day, with both players already exhausted, Mahut lost his grip on his racket and fell to the ground in a desperate but spirited attempt to hit the ball. Everybody present — including his opponent — applauded the effort.
Even better, the two players met again in Wimbledon2011. Although that time the match went to Isner in straight sets (7-6 [7-4]; 6-2; 7-6 [8-6]), BBC news coverage showed that after the epic match of 2010, the two became close friends, and the court that they played on now has a plaque commemorating their historic match.
On the subject of Tennis, the 2009 Wimbledon final award ceremony certainly counts. Andy Roddick had a career record of 2-17 against, arguably, the best tennis player who's ever lived, Roger Federer, and got into the finals on a miracle. Needless to say, the match was expected to be an easy drubbing. However, Roddick played remarkable well, but still lost in an absolute heart-breaker, 7-5, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 14-16, and the win gave Roger Federer the all-time record of 15 grand slam wins. Roddick gracefully accepted the loss, but as he sat down and Federer received his applause, the crowd broke into a "Rodd-ick! Rodd-ick!" chant.
Another example involving Federer: at the 2009 Australian Open he was denied a record-equalling 14th Grand Slam by close friend and rival Rafael Nadal in a hard-fought five-setter. He broke down utterly and was barely able to finish his runner-up speech, which he used to praise Nadal's performance. Nadal then pulled him into a hug and said "Remember, you're a great champion, you're one of the best in history. You're going to improve on the 14 of Sampras."note He did... and then some. Going into Wimbledon 2019, Federer had 20.
During a softball game between Central Washington University and Western Oregon University, WOU senior Sara Tucholsky hit the only home run of her career. But after rounding first (and returning to retouch the bag), she tore the ACL in her right knee. The umpires stated that WOU could not assist Tucholsky in rounding the bases, so two Central players picked her up and carried her around the bases. By the time they reached home plate, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. That moment was named "Best Sports Moment Of The Year" at the 2008 ESPYs. Watch it here
John Landy. The second man in the world to run the four-minute mile and the runner-up in the "Race of the Century" in 1954 - but his heartwarming moment comes two years later. He was running in the 1956 Australian national championships, when ahead of him the pack clipped young runner Ron Clarke, who fell to the ground. Forced to attempt to jump over him, Landy didn't quite make it - he injured Clarke's arm with his running spikes. In the middle of the race, Landy then stopped and turned back - giving up the chance to reclaim his world record - picked up Clarke and helped him to his feet, apologizing in the meantime for hitting his arm. There is a statue of Landy helping Clarke near Olympic Park in Melbourne; it is titled simply "Sportsmanship". What makes this a Moment of Awesome as well is that once Clarke was back on his feet, Landy then set off to chase down the pack, now 30 yards ahead of him... and won the race anyway.
Despite being occasionally referred to as "Human Cockfighting", MMA has had its fair share of heartwarming moments. Two that particularly stand out: vicious Croatian striker Mirko Cro Cop was essentially the best fighter in the world never to win it big. From failing efforts in wars with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fedor Emelianenko to getting stunned and knocked out by wrestler Kevin Randleman, something had always stopped him. Then, in the 2006 PRIDE Open Weight Tournament, he finally pulled it off by taking out Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett in the same night. This man, always presented as a cold, emotionless wrecking machine, sat down in the ring and began crying as his team dogpiled onto him with huge grins on their faces.
Another involved indestructible Brazilian Minotauro Nogueira. While his win over Cro Cop (which involved the Croatian destroying him for eleven minutes before Nogueira submitted him), in which he fell onto his back and gave a giant scream of victory, certainly qualifies, his win over Tim Sylvia was spectacular. Nogueira, long known for being impossible to hurt, was being throttled by the giant Sylvia, unable to land a single meaningful blow or get him to the ground. In the third round, he managed to get top position with a sweep and, as Sylvia tried to roll out, caught him in a fight-ending guillotine choke. Swollen, bloody, but smiling the widest smile you can imagine, Big Nog got the UFC title after, throughout his life, getting hit by a truck as a child, powerbombed by 350 lb. Bob Sapp, head kicked by Cro Cop, and obliterated by Fedor twice. Truly touching.
The story of Gareth Thomas, a gay Welsh rugby player. He came out after agonizing about his homosexuality for most of his career and was immediately swamped with a massive wave of support.
On February 22, 2011, an earthquake hit the New Zealand city Christchurch, absolutely wrecking the homes and lives of people there. Two months on, there was still a lot of work to be done - so much so that All Blacks captain Richie McCaw went knocking door to door to drop off food packages for the Salvation Army. When asked to comment, he simply replied that he was willing to do what he could to help and that he found it pretty cool to go put a smile on people's faces whilst giving them aid. And after he retired from rugby, having become a licensed and working helicopter pilot, he personally flew rescue and reconnaissance missions following a 2016 earthquake that hit within a brief flight from Christchurch.
After a Georgian athlete died in a horrible accident during a training run, when Georgia marched into the 2010 Olympic stadium, they received a standing ovation from the rest of the world.
AND they threw in a Moment of Silence after the Olympic Flag was brought in. The Olympic Opening Ceremonies are choreographed and timed MONTHS in advance, yet they took the time, money (which they were spending enough of), and resources to add it in AT THE LAST SECOND. As much as the last half of the Ceremonies sucked (especially the flame...), that was truly great.
The oldest tournament in rugby (union) is the 6 Nations (formerly 5 Nations) tournament, that pits England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy against each other every year. The team that wins it defeating all other sides is said to have won a Grand Slam, which of course is the highest possible award in the 6 Nations. Ireland won it in 1948, captained by Karl Mullen, and then not again until 2009. Only one month after the 2009 win, 82-year-old Karl Mullen peacefully passed away.
Another heartwarming Six Nations moment: The 2014 edition was notably the last for Ireland icon Brian O'Driscoll, who became the most-capped player in rugby historynote a record that would fall the next year to the All Blacks' Richie McCaw, and now held by Wales' Alun Wyn Jones during the tournament. Going into Ireland's last match away to France, they needed to defeat the French to claim the title... and won a 2220 nail-biter to send BOD into retirement with one last trophy... or so they thought (see immediately below).
Just before that match, Adidas, with which BOD has an endorsement contract, released a YouTube tribute video featuring many Adidas-sponsored stars from both Ireland and other Six Nations participants.
As it turned out, BOD had one more chance at a trophy. A few months later, his club team, Leinster, made the final of its league, the Pro12,note now Pro14 against Glasgow Warriors. He was forced off by an injury after 8 minutes and his team down 30. However, there were no nail-biters this time around, as Leinster shortly thereafter took a lead they never relinquished, in the end winning 3412 and making BOD's last-ever appearance as a rugby player a winning one.
Yet another example from rugby union came in December 2011, when Australia visited Wales in what was the final international match for all-time Wales try scoring leader Shane Williams. The Wallabies pulled away from Wales in the second half, taking a 2411 lead into stoppage time. There was one final act, however... Wales attacked the Australian try-line and swung the ball out to Williams. A couple of sidesteps and a quick sprint later, Williams ended the match and his Test career with a try.note If you want to be nitpicking, the try didn't end the match... there was still the conversion kick, which missed (it wouldn't have affected the outcome). Nonetheless, the try was the final act of open play.
Collegiate Wrestling invokes images of stereotypical muscular athletes with nearly perfect bodies. Enter Anthony Robles, a wrestler with only one leg. Barely recruited coming out of high school, he joined the Arizona State wrestling team, a respected program but not known for producing national champions. Was only an All-American going into his senior year and the returning national champion was in his weight class. Robles went on to have a completely undefeated regular season and ended up facing the defending national champion in the finals at 125 pounds. Anthony Robles easily wins the match and, hopping on his only leg, stands with his hand raised to hear the biggest and most unanimous applause I have ever seen at the national tournament.
Pairs skater Elena Berezhnaya. Her first partner was Oleg Shliakov, who was physically and verbally abusive towards her. He would purposefully drop her from lifts, and his reputation was so bad they had a hard time finding a coach. One day, while they were practicing side-by-side spins, his skate blade hit Elena's head and sliced into her skull. She was partially paralyzed and had such severe brain damage that she temporarily lost the ability to speak. A fellow pairs skater, Anton Sikharulidze, visited her in the hospital and helped nurse her back to health. Elena said she was "skinny, shaved, half-alive, almost a skeleton, and Anton so tenderly cared about me. Perhaps it was his belief in me that helped me recover so quickly." She recovered to full strength and began skating with Anton instead of her previous partner. They clicked instantly, winning bronze at the European Championships less than a year after Elena's injury. In 2002, they won the gold medal at the Olympics.
Jack Nicklaus' concession to Tony Jacklin at the 1969 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England. After almost three days of blood feud between the British team and the American team, which at one point required the teams' captains - Sam Snead for the U.S. and Eric Brown for Britain - to have to calm the players down during one of the fourball sessions on the event's second day, it was all square in the 18th hole in the last match of the tournament between Nicklaus and Jacklin. With the score tied at 15.5 to each side, Nicklaus made par on a 5-foot putt to clinch a half of the hole and the Ryder Cup. With Jacklin needing to make his par putt to clinch a 16-16 draw, Nicklaus conceded a 2-foot putt with the knowledge that the tournament would end tied. The two walked off the green with their arms around each other's shoulders.
In the event a Ryder Cup ends tied, the previous winner retains the Cup. The U.S. held the Ryder Cup coming into the 1969 event, so, Nicklaus's concession had no bearing on whom the Cup would go to. Still, a great gesture by a classy sportsman.
A more recent golf story is that of PGA Tour journeyman Nate Lashley:
2004 While playing at the University of Arizona, his parents and girlfriend were killed in a plane crash shortly after watching his team qualify for the NCAA championship tournament.
2012 Still grieving over the loss, and also lacking any real success on developmental tours, he quit golf and got a job as a real estate agent. He would return to golf the next year.
2015 He began playing on PGA Tour Latinoamérica, an effective third-level tour run by the PGA Tour, where he started enjoying significant success.
2017 After a successful run on the PGA Tour's second level, the Web.com Tour, he finally got his card (exempt status) on the main PGA Tour.
2018 Lashley missed most of the second half of the PGA Tour season to a knee injury, though he would receive a medical pass for most of the 2019 season.
2019 He failed to qualify for the Rocket Mortgage Classic in June of that year, ending up as the first alternate. He wound up getting in thanks to another player withdrawing before the tournament. And after that? Lashley shot a 63 in the first round to take sole possession of the lead. And then went on to finish the other three days as the sole leader, claiming his first PGA Tour win. That gave him automatic entry to the next three major championshipsnote 2019 Open Championship, 2020 Masters and PGA Championship plus a PGA Tour card through the end of the 2021 season.
During the men's marathon at the 2013 World Championships, the two Brazilian runners stuck together throughout the race and crossed the finish line together, hand in hand.
From the same World Championships, 200m British runner Adam Gemili (at only 19) coming first in his semi-final. Just see the Adorkable look of shock on his face when he realizes that not only did he win, but won it in under 20 seconds.
Only once in the history of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships have two women shared the individual all-around gold medal. When Soviet gymnastics legend Elena Shushunova walked up to the podium to claim her world championship, she did it side by side with Oksana Omelianchik, her compatriot, her lifelong training partner — and her best friend.
In 2019 at the gymnastics World Championships, Simone Biles won a personal best five gold medals, something that many fans had been waiting for for years (she was expected to do so in 2016 and 2018, but had major mistakes in the beam finals both years), smashing several world medal records in the process, and also got two brand-new skills on the books, both of which became the highest-valued skills on the respective events (a triple-twisting double back on floor, and a double-twisting double back dismount on beam). But when she was asked what the most impressive part of those world championships was, she replied that it was seeing how incredible her teammate, first-year senior Sunisa Lee, looked in her first major international competition. (Lee stumbled in the all-around, but won individual event medals on bars (bronze) and floor (silver) in addition to the team gold.)
Also at those same World Championships, Great Britain's Downie sisters, Ellie and Becky, won their first individual Worlds medals in back-to-back women's finals (bronze for Ellie on vault, silver for Becky on bars). Both later stated that they were shedding Tears of Joy for each other's medals as much as for their own.
This story about a Swedish multi-sports racing team who, during the multi-sports championship in Equador, met upon an scruffy-looking stray dog during the competition. The team's leader, Mikael Lindnord, thought that the dog looked hungry and gave him a meatball, and not thinking more about it the team continued onwards. Apparently the dog thought otherwise and followed the team through wilderness and mud at which the team, after trying to get rid of him a bunch of time out of concerns for his safety, decided to take care of him. When they changed to a long kayaking trip, after concerns from the organizers they tried to leave him behind but the dog (now named Arthur) jumped after them and they decided to take him with them. They ended up finishing 12th and most likely lost a few positions because they took care of Arthur. Not only that, they had now become so fond of Arthur that Lindnord decided to try to adopt him and bring him with them to Sweden. After a visit to the veterinarian and some paperwork, Arthur is now living in Sweden with a family, possibly for the first time in his life.
Afghanistan qualifying for the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Might also count as a Crowning Moment of Awesome, considering that in 2001 they weren't even an ICC member, and in 2008 were way down in Division 5 of the World Cricket League.
Postscript: Afghanistan received Test status in 2017.
In 2011, Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt died in a crash during Giro d'Italia. Afterwards, the entire peloton, no exceptions, decided to pay their respect to him by neutralizing the following stage as a dedication to him, which ended with his team, and his close friend Tyler Farrar, being allowed to cross the line first. The remaining Leopard-Trek riders left the race afterwards, as did Farrar. On the following stage, Pieter Weening, who won the stage and took overall lead, gave his leaders jersey to Weylandt's family. His team set up a fund for his pregnant girlfriend. On the day of his funeral, stage winner John Gadret dedicated his win to Weylandt, despite barely knowing him. Bib number 108 has been removed from Giro d'Italia entirely, and fans still write WW108 on the roads of this particular race.
In the HEMA competition Örebro Open in 2015, Kristian Ruokkonen was slated to face Thomas Nyzell in the bout for bronze in military saber. Ruokkonen had injured his wrist in the semi-final and was considering dropping out, since he knew he had no chance fencing with his non-dominant hand. Nyzell prodded him into the bout by promising to use his non-dominant hand only as well. Ruokkonen went on to win the bronze, and, acknowledging he wouldn't have stood a chance if not for Nyzell's sportsmanship, split the medal in half and gave Nyzell one piece.
Australian Rules Football: As of 2016, the Western Bulldogs (formerly known as Footscray) had won just one premiership in their history, and hadn't made it to the Grand Final since 1961. To rub it in, they had lost seven Preliminary Finals since 1985, narrowly staved off a merger in 1989, and had near-constant financial troubles. Then, three weeks into the 2016 season, captain Bob Murphy injured his knee and was out for the year. Going into the 2016 finals series, they were placed 7th, and were underdogs (pardon the pun) in all their finals matches - against the West Coast Eagles in Perth, then reigning three-time premiers Hawthorn, then new team (and perceived league's pet) Greater Western Sydney Giants in Sydney for the Preliminary Final. The Bulldogs won by a goal, making it to the Grand Final for the first time in 55 years. After that, actually winning against the top-placed Sydney Swans was almost icing on the cake. But the cherry on top came during the presentation ceremony, when coach Luke Beveridge called injured captain Bob Murphy up to the stand and gave his premiership medallion to him, saying he deserved it more than anyone.
The 2017 Australian Open saw Serena Williams, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest players of all time, win an Open era record 23rd Grand Slam. And who did she beat to get it? Her own sister Venus (who also had a remarkable run, making her first Slam final since 2009 and first Australian Open final since 2003). When the match ended, both gave each other a long warm hug, with Venus clearly proud of her younger sister's achievement despite the tough loss.
At the 1948 Tour de France, Gino Bartali's victory stopped an impending civil war in Italy: during the tour, Palmiro Togliatti, leader of the Italian Communist Party, had been shot and was comatose, there were great tensions in the country, including a general strike, and right as Italy was ready to collapse in a civil war Bartali won his third stage in a row, and the tensions were drowned in the enthusiasm for his impending victory, just long enough for Togliatti to wake up and calm down his supporters.
Reportedly, the first thing Togliatti asked after waking up was how Bartali was doing in the Tour.
At the Berlin Olympics in 1936, Japanese pole vaulters Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe found themselves tied for the silver medal. The two friends, satisfied with the result, declined to compete in a tie-breaker, and the silver medal was arbitrarily awarded to Shuhei. They went back to Japan and had their medals cut in half and then welded together so they each had one "friendship medal" that was half silver, half bronze.
During a triathlon in Mexico in 2016, Jonathan Brownlee started to feel the effects of heat and exhaustion and started weaving across the course, appearing to be on the verge of collapsing. When his brother saw this happening, he abandoned his own chances of winning and helped his brother finish the race.