Michael J. Fox, Selma Blair, Danica Patrick and more stars on overcoming health battles: In their own words, athletes and their health challenges
While they may be busy with their careers, it’s not uncommon to meet a young athlete or aspiring professional at the gym who has faced one of the toughest challenges in sports in recent years—a health issue or injury. In fact, a recent study found athletes tend to face more health issues than average and face more career-ending injuries than average.
What follows is a compilation of some of the greatest athletes to overcome such issues. For each athlete, we explore what it was like when they battled their health battles, what they encountered along the way, and what they look back on with gratitude.
When to exercise
“You need to be on top of your health care as an athlete,” says Fox, 41 and a former collegiate swimmer who suffered a heart attack in April 2012. “I had never been that healthy.”
Fox says he was a regular smoker for 15 years. “I started in the sixth grade,” he recalls. “At the swimming meets, I smoked cigarettes.” But the habit lasted until he decided to take a swim meet at age 10. “I went out and smoked a pack and a half.”
When he was 11, he was bullied for eating fast food. Fox says he “got so mad that I came down with bronchitis and got sick. I almost died. I couldn’t play the sport that I loved.”
As his health got worse, he went to a specialist who diagnosed him with heart problems. “I couldn’t go to races anymore,” he says.
Fox has been through rehabilitation for multiple injuries, as well as surgeries on his shoulders, hips and knee. “Injuries have been the big difference between what I’ve been able to do and what I would have