No matter what the issue at hand, we quickly turn to Google to settle our differences and access an ocean of knowledge that can at times be as disturbing as it is enlightening. Good, bad or weird, Google always has the answers we’re looking for. The internet giant recently released its trends for 2013. The year’s top trends span from Nelson Mandela to the Playstation 4. But the world of sports is not without its own list of trendy names. It was a great year in sports; The Baltimore Ravens captured the Super Bowl, handing the San Francisco 49ers their first Super Bowl loss in franchise history, The Boston Red Sox won the World Series after the Boston Marathon tragedy, and the Chicago Blackhawks followed up on their dominant regular season performance to claim their second Stanley Cup in four years. But while these events were amazing in themselves, they were not necessarily the ones that garnered the most online attention.
This top 10 list will comprise the most-searched athletes on Google for the year. Most of the entries on this list are there because they’ve either done something spectacular or something truly horrific. Without further adieu, I present to you the most interesting athletes of 2013, chosen by us, the general public.
10. Chris Kelly – Center – Boston Bruins
This one is sad but hilarious all at the same time. Most people were looking for Chris Kelly, member of Kris Kross, the guys who wore their clothes backwards and made that horrible song “Jump” that plays at every party. Unfortunately, some of them got Chris Kelly, the hard-working, third-line center for the Boston Bruins who is far less famous. The reason so many were searching for Chris Kelly, was because the former member of Kris Kross died in May 2013, which they suspect to have been drug-related. Kelly the hockey player began his career in Ottawa, before moving to Boston and winning a Stanley Cup. He signed a four-year extension with the Bruins in 2012, that will pay him a total of $12 million.
9. Ray Lewis – Middle Linebacker – Baltimore Ravens
One of the most beloved players in NFL history by fans all over the nation, Ray Lewis finally decided to retire at the end of the 2012-2013 season after winning his second Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens were obliged to sign a number of free agents, including their quarterback Joe Flacco (who became the highest paid QB in the league making over $20 million this season), so Lewis probably sensed that he wouldn’t have been brought back anyway. Lewis left nothing on the table, as he had torn his triceps in October and found a way to come back only two months later to lead his team to the playoffs and eventually a championship. He has since signed on with ESPN as an NFL analyst in a multi-year deal that will definitely be worth a lot of money. Lewis made just shy of $5 million in his last year.
8. Lamar Odom – Forward – Free-Agent
Lamar Odom used to be a basketball player. Now he’s more famous for his exploits on reality TV than for his recent accomplishments in the NBA. It’s a lot easier to go over what Odom has done off the court this year than whatever he has done on it. He finished last season with the Los Angeles Clippers as a veteran bench player trying to help a young team reach the next level. What did he do in the off-season? He was rumoured to be addicted to crack, lost his driver’s license because of a DUI and divorced his reality-star wife Khloe Kardashian. It is also rumoured that the divorce may cost Odom as much as $10 million. At the same time, he has been apparently working out and wants to make a comeback in the NBA. It remains to be seen if anyone will be even mildly interested.
7. Jason Collins – Forward – Free-Agent
Another basketball player who is in the news for something other than his feats on the court. This story is a lot more positive, though, as Jason Collins was the first-ever professional sports player to publicly announce that he was gay. Throughout his career, Collins was a fantastic defender and rebounder for the Nets, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Hawks, Celtics and Wizards. In April, through Sports Illustrated, he announced that he was gay and was immediately thrust into the spotlight. The little-known player became a overnight sensation, drawing praise from the likes of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Kobe Bryant. He has not received a contract offer for 2013-2014 after finishing last season with the Wizards. Some may believe that it was because of his announcement, but his numbers were declining significantly, perhaps due to the increased attention.
6. Gareth Bale – Attacker – Real Madrid
The young Welsh soccer player has had himself a huge 2013. At the beginning of year, Gareth Bale was playing his trade at Tottenham in the Barclays Premier League and was relatively unknown globally. That all changed in the summer as Real Madrid paid Tottenham a world-record fee of $123 million to transfer the attacker. It is as stunning as it sounds, but Bale is a phenomenal player. He didn’t come out to poorly in the deal either, making $25,632,360 a year with Real Madrid, and that is not including the numerous sponsorship deals he will have signed as well. Bale struggled initially with Madrid as he did not have the benefit of a pre-season with the team, but has come on strong recently with fantastic performances in La Liga and the Champions League. However, Bale still makes less than team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo who brings home $28,904,400 on a yearly basis.
5. Lance Armstrong – Cyclist
Doesn’t it always feel like Lance Armstrong is in the news? I can not remember a year where he wasn’t involved with a heroic exploit or a terrible scandal. The beginning of Lance’s story was magical as he beat cancer and came back to win the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times. However, he was then caught for doping and the result was a struggle in court between him and U.S. federal prosecutors. They finally dropped the case in 2012, but the Untied States Anti-Doping Agency accused him of doping and trafficking drugs. After years and years of public denials, Armstrong finally admitted to Oprah in January, 2013 that he had used performance enhancing drugs. It is rumoured that he lost $75 million in one day as all of his sponsors left him, including Nike who endorsed the profitable Livestrong brand associated with him. He was asked to return the Bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympic Games and was removed from the Tour de France records books.
4. Kevin Ware – Guard – Louisville
If you haven’t seen Kevin Ware’s injury by now, you either live under a rock or you’re extremely squeamish. The horrifying injury occurred during the March Madness tournament in a game against Duke University. Ware went to block a shot attempt and landed awkwardly, suffering a compound fracture to his right knee. Looking at the injury, it seemed that Ware might never be able to walk again, but a compound fracture is less complicated than an ACL tear and only requires a few months of rehabilitation. He was able to make it back to begin the 2013-2014 season with the Louisville Cardinals and has steadily improved throughout the season.
3. Adrian Peterson – Running Back – Minnesota Vikings
The story of Adrian Peterson‘s huge 2013 actually begins back in December of 2011 when he tore both his ACL and MCL in a game against the Washington Redskins. He came back in 2012-2013 to have a monster year and in 2013 he earned the NFL Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player Award. He also led his Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs where they eventually lost to the rival Green Bay Packers. The 2013-2014 season hasn’t been as kind to AP and the Vikings, as they have struggled and are already out of playoff contention. There are rumours of Peterson wanting to be traded in the off-season, even after the huge extension given to him in 2011 by the team in which he makes an average salary of $13,714,286 until 2017. Sadly, he also made the news when his two-year-old son passed away from severe injuries from physical abuse. Peterson proved his toughness as he played only two days after the news broke, versus the Carolina Panthers. He stated that it wasn’t easy for him, but that football was always something he could fall back on.
2. Aaron Hernandez – Tight End – New England Patriots
One of the more surprising and dramatic stories of the year involved the New England Patriots. It didn’t concern an inspiring performance by Tom Brady or a strange call by Bill Belichick, but rather their young TE who is implicated in a murder trial. Aaron Hernandez was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft in 2010 and had begun to rise as a star player in the league. That was until the summer of 2013 when he was convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits. The Patriots released Hernandez even before hearing of the charges, and he faces a life sentence in prison without parole. A huge fall from grace for Hernandez who had signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots a year before. He also lost his sponsorships with Puma and CytoSport.
1. Oscar Pistorius – Runner
Another strange story that doesn’t involved any real sports exploits, but a terrible crash for an Olympic hero. Oscar Pistorius was a South African runner who used prosthetic legs after having both limbs amputated at the age of 11. He won numerous gold medals at the Paralympic Games and participated at the 2012 Olympic Games, even being asked to carry the flag at the closing ceremonies. Pistorius was a source of inspiration for the disabled until the sad news broke that he had murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He has since been released on bail and will defend himself in court in March, 2014. Pistorius claims that he was not trying to kill his girlfriend, but believed her to be an intruder. It remains to be seen if this dark cloud will be lifted from the former hero’s head, but that is another story for another year.
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