Athletes that have defied death more than once

For pro athletes, the danger level of their job is a bit higher than the typical office-dweller. They push their bodies to achieve more day in and day out, and sometimes, it backfires. Many athletes, from pro surfers to football players, have died doing what they love. But what about those lucky ones who have managed to escape death not once, but multiple times?

Travis Pastrana

Travis Pastrana's name is legendary in the world of the X-Games, motocross, and racing. While the trailblazer has taken the sports he loves to new heights, he's still human, and he's suffered for it along the way. Perhaps his worst injury ever occurred when he was just a teen. He had a terrible stroke of luck one day when practicing to nail a 120-foot jump. Unfortunately for Pastrana, the failure of this trick led to one of the most gnarly injuries a person can possibly bring upon themselves. Pastrana dislocated his spine from his pelvis — an injury that reportedly only 3 people in recorded history have ever incurred, two of which became paralyzed.

Pastrana was in the other category, actually being able to walk again despite basically dying. In an interview with Coach, Pastrana shared the story of this intense, grueling experience: "I was in a wheelchair for five months and I bled out over half my body's blood in the first week so I had to have multiple blood transfusions to stay alive." You read that right: half his blood. He learned to walk again, against all odds, and got back into riding as soon as possible, against all human logic.

Though that kind of a spinal injury would certainly be enough pain for one lifetime, Pastrana would endure many more. In fact, the daredevil has had more near-death accidents than the average person has pants. When preparing for X-Games IX in 2003, Pastrana sustained such a serious knee injury, doctors told him he would bleed to death in half an hour if he merely stepped on it the wrong way. And that's not all. That same year, he and some friends were driving so far over the speed limit that their car crashed, flipped upside down, and ejected Pastrana from his seat. Pastrana miraculously survived, but his friend in the passenger's seat, Matthew Bigos, was left unable to walk.

Despite all of this, Pastrana has continued to put himself in death's clutches for years, narrowly escaping with rewards of fame and accomplishment.

Isaquias Queiroz

Isaquias Queiroz's story is an incredible tale of pain and triumph. Brazil's champion sprint-canoeist won three olympic medals in Rio's 2016 Olympic games, but that almost didn't happen. Growing up, he faced many life-threatening trials, beginning at age three, when he sustained severe burns all over his body thanks to boiling water spilled all over him. Queiroz spent a month in the hospital because of it, and should have remained in admittance for a longer period of time were it not for his mother, who took him home against doctor's wishes.

Unfortunately, the little kid's hard-knock life only starts there. At five years old, Querioz was kidnapped, but thankfully was found shortly after. Then at ten, he fell from a tree onto a rock below, and ended up losing one of his kidneys. Still, Queiroz didn't let these painful experiences get in the way of his talent and his goals. Coming from water-heavy Ubaitaba, Brazil, riding around on canoes was a massive part of daily life, and a main source of transportation. Growing up in that culture, Queiroz took the inherent athleticism of canoeing to new heights. After years of training and competition, he became Brazil's most renowned competitive canoeist in history. He hasn't yet had to cheat death during his career, though with his luck, it may just be one angry, venomous water-snake away.

Matthew Hawksley

We're pretty sure UK triathlete Matthew Hawksley is secretly a cat. Why? Because he's escaped death eight times, and is now taking it easy because he's on his last life.

It all began in 2011 in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, Ireland, when he took a dive into what he didn't know were incredibly shallow waters. As a result, Hawksley broke his neck, shattered his spine, and suffered multiple consecutive heart failures. Not only did he break bones when he fell, but medics had severe trouble keeping the athlete alive on his way to the hospital. He had to be resuscitated an astounding four times. Doctors told his family he would most likely be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and that he may not ever regain the ability to speak.

Fortunately for Hawksley, a crucial spinal surgery proved these initial predictions wrong, and he eventually regained his motor skills. However, that didn't put an end to his suffering. While in the hospital, he contracted pneumonia and developed MRSA, which can be a life-threatening condition if the case is serious enough. After making it through all these injuries and illnesses, the battle still was not over for Hawksley. Just months after leaving the hospital, he learned that he had testicular cancer, which only subsided after the removal of his right testicle.

While people may be tempted to say he's the most unlucky person on the face of the earth, you could just as easily say that he is quite the opposite. How many non-military people (outside of 50 Cent) encounter death eight times and live to tell the tale? And he didn't just survive — he thrived. In 2014, he crossed the finish line of a triathlon that took place in the very town in Ireland where he first met death. Talk about a feisty cat.

Mat Hoffman

BMX rider Mat Hoffman is one of the most celebrated riders of the vert ramp, but he sure has paid for it. In 1993 he suffered an awful crash on a ramp that he built himself. According to ABC News, Hoffman flew about 22 feet off of the 21-foot ramp, before he fell and ruptured his spleen. He then had to have the ruined organ removed. That kind of an injury's nasty enough, but his problems didn't end there. As he waited for the ambulance to come and take him to the hospital, his heart stopped, and the pro rider blacked out.

Not only that, but the New York Times reports that Hoffman has endured an astounding 25 operations during his career. That's a lot, even for a BMX daredevil. Plus, in an interview with Maxim, Hoffman reveals he's had non-BMX near-death experiences as well. "A semitruck ran a stop sign and hit me at like 50 miles per hour," he says. "It nearly ripped my arm off." Even still, compared to what he's endured at his day job, getting hit by a truck must've felt like a vacation.

A.J. Foyt

A.J. Foyt is one of the best racers of all time. Still, his legendary career didn't come without its major hiccups. He's burst into flames while driving, has gotten into many car wrecks that have resulted in knee, tibia, and heel injuries, and has even been attacked by killer bees. Drowning, asphyxiation and risky triple bypass surgery also make the worst list anybody could assemble.

As if to laugh in the face of death itself, Foyt not only survived all of these incidents, but managed to set striking records in his field. He was the first ever racer to win the Indy 500 four times, and the Foyt name remains one of the most beloved in racing. IndyStar says of the famous driver, "Foyt has been through the mill, grinded up, spat out and left for dead. But he just won't succumb." He is now living strong at 82 years old, way longer than any of those stupid bees did.

Dave Mirra

BMX star Dave Mirra died in February of 2016. The cause of death was a shot to the head, which is believed to be self-inflicted. So what led this sports icon to commit suicide? Well, before his death, Mirra was diagnosed with CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This brain disease is common in athletes like football and hockey players, as doctors believe that it's caused by repeated head trauma. It causes brain degeneration that can eventually result in memory loss, and even a higher risk of suicide.

But even before he was diagnosed with the disease, Mirra had several near-death experiences. When he was 19, he got hit by a drunk driver, fracturing his skull and dislocating his shoulder. Then, while practicing for the Summer X Games in 2006, Mirra suffered what he called the worst crash of his career. When performing a trick, he fell, landed on his head, and was almost certain that he had broken some ribs, or even damaged a lung. What he discovered later at the hospital was that he almost killed his liver. He incurred what is known as a Grade 4 laceration on the organ, which is one step away from the worst kind a person can get at Grade 5.

Unfortunately, unlike other athletes who kept cheating death, Mirra did eventually succumb to it, but not before sticking that sickle where it hurts most at least twice before.

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