The Best Stories About Overcoming Adversity


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The Best Stories About Overcoming Adversity


Every one of us experiences hardships and setbacks every now and then. It’s a pretty normal experience and having enough courage to fight it is important. Some people’s hardships can be more difficult than other people. But that doesn’t invalidate what any person had to go through, whether big or small. A lot of people have shared their inspiring stories that even though adversities come their way, they were still able to stand strong and push through to become very successful. To help inspire you when struggles come your way, here are the best stories of people who have overcome adversity and came out successful despite the struggle.


One of the most inspiring stories that you may read is Sylvester Stallone’s. You may know him for his roles in the Rocky series and The Terminator. Known for his big build and strong voice, this guy has also faced a lot of struggles throughout his life. When his mother was about to give birth to him, she had a lot of complications that forced the doctor to use forceps to get the baby out. Unfortunately, the doctors misused this and caused a nerve in his face to be severed and cause paralysis. It actually caused Stallone’s lower face to be paralyzed which is his lips, tongue, and chin. This has been the main cause for his snarling look and slurred speech. But that is only the start of all of his struggles. Like many actors, Stallone has struggled through the beginning of his acting career. It came to the point that he was so broke that he was homeless and had to sell all of his wife’s jewelry and even his dog because he couldn’t feed him anymore. He was at his lowest during these times but a week after, he watched a Muhammad Ali match that gave him the idea of writing the script for Rocky. He was even able to finish the whole script in less than a day. A lot of studios loved the script he made but none took the risk to make it a masterpiece as Stallone will only give the script to a studio that will allow him to star as Rocky, the male lead. Many studios offered him a lot of money for the script only but he rejected all of them. Finally, one studio agreed to let him star in it but only paid $35, 000 for the script. This wasn’t a problem as Rocky became a blockbuster that grossed $225 million with six sequels. The first thing Stallone did after receiving the payment for the script was to come back to the place where he sold his dog. He was able to get the dog back but for $15, 000. His story tells us that even after a lot of struggles and setbacks, we shouldn’t give up and continue to work hard.


Helen Keller showed us that having a disability won’t be able to hinder a person who persevered and worked hard to achieve his or her dream. She was both deaf and blind from when she was just 19 months old. It is said that a  certain illness may have caused this, along the likes of meningitis and scarlet fever. Having these disabilities can easily discourage a person, much more a child who doesn’t even understand what happened and how she turned out to be like this. However, Helen Keller never gave up nor lost hope in her life.In 1886, her parents seeked advice from a lot of people such as J. Julian Chisolm, an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist in Baltimore, and Alexander Graham Bell, who worked with blind children back then. On March 5, 1887, Anne Sullivan, a visually impaired alumnus of Perkins Institute for the Blind, arrived at the Keller’s house to teach Helen. This has been the start of a friendship and companionship that lasted for more than 50 years. Anne patiently taught Helen about everything, even writing and spelling. Helen Keller grew up to become a very popular author, lecturer, and activist. She was the first deaf-blind person to finish a degree in Bachelor of Arts. In 1971, she was also inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame. Her story showed us that you can overcome adversity to achieve a great life.


By this time, you may have possibly heard already about the story of pro surfer Bethany Hamilton. She was the 13 year old girl who lost her left arm due to a tiger shark attack while she was out surfing with her best friend and some of her family members. This incident happened on October 31, 2003 in Makua Beach at Kauai’s North Shore, also known as one of the most famous surfing spots in Hawaii. At that time, she was a popular up and coming surfer and she was being trained by her dad. However, she was severely held back by this incident and she totally lost all hope that she could ever surf again, especially with only one arm. After a few months of feeling hopeless, Bethany found her faith as a foundation that inspired her to get back on her surfing board and try to achieve her dreams of being a professional surfer. On this current day, Bethany is one of the best pro surfers in the league and has already bagged a lot of championships and achievements in surfing. She is now married to a youth minister named Adam DIrks and they have two children, Tobias and Wesley. Hamilton wrote an autobiography entitled “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board” in 2004 which showed all of the struggle that she and her family went through following the incident and it was turned into a great movie entitled “Soul Surfer” which was released in 2011. She also has a new movie entitled “Unstoppable” which also showed the struggles that Bethany and her family went through.


Have you ever thought of being an actress and having to finish a show you started and at the same time, battling a life threatening illness? That is what Emilia Clarke did. You may know her for her famous role of Daenerys Targaryen from the hit TV series Game of Thrones. This role skyrocketed her to stardom and made a big impact in her life. However, behind the scenes, Clarke had been battling a life threatening illness for most of the first few seasons. 

Just after finishing the first season of Game of Thrones, she faced a tough situation following the events of being rushed to the hospital after a workout session at the gym. Her worst fears have been realized when she was diagnosed with subarachnoid hemorrhage, a kind of stroke that kills one out of three people diagnosed with it. She was immediately told that she needed to undergo surgery to remove her brain aneurysm but she was a bit skeptical about it since she has a busy life and a busy schedule. 

Ultimately, she decided that having the brain surgery and recovery was very hard for her. She was having difficulty in memorizing and remembering that it came to the point that she couldn’t even remember her name. At that point, she wanted to just end her life since she believed that her life depended on communication and memorization so her lifes not worth anything anymore. Luckily, a month after the surgery, Clarke had recovered well and was able to go home just a few weeks before the start of filming for the 2nd season of Game of Thrones. 

After the third season, doctors found out that there was another brain aneurysm that needed immediate surgery. Recovery had been more painful than before and Clarke spent a month in hospital experiencing all sorts of anxiety and depression. It’s a great thing that she had recovered well since then and was able to finish all eight seasons of the Game of Thrones. Right now, she’s just waiting for all the beauty and surprises that life can bring. Just like Emilia Clarke, we all should be strong and stay positive in times of trouble to lead a good life.


It’s totally devastating to be a star player one moment and lose almost everything in the next. This is such a painful experience that Marc Zupan has experienced. This Cleveland raised man is actually so athletic that he played both varsity football and soccer when he was in High School. However, a life-changing incident happened in October 134, 1993. 

After winning a soccer game, Zupan and his teammates went drinking at a local bar. After that, he became too drunk that all he was able to do was crawl to the back of a pickup truck that his friend Chris Igoe owned. He was sleeping there when Igoe decided that he would drive home. The bad thing here is that he was drunk and that he didn’t know that Zupan was at the back of his truck. Igoe spun out and Zupan was thrown out of the back of his truck and into a canal. He was found 14 hours after by a regular passerby but he had already suffered hypothermia and became paraplegic. 

After the incident, Zupan graduated and went on to play wheelchair rugby. He became a two time quad rugby champion and even a quad rugby player of the year in 2004. He was also a member of the 2004 USA Team that won a bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Paralympics and 2008 USA Team that won gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. Zupan became well known for his appearance at the 2005 film called Murderball. His story shows us that no incident should keep us from enjoying our life and doing what we love.


Oprah Winfrey already was at the peak of her success as she has already built a billion-dollar empire and was placed 1st on Forbes’ list of America’s richest female entertainers in 2017. But life growing up wasn’t a piece of cake for her as she went through a great deal of adversity before her life was made into a real life success story. Winfrey originally grew up with her grandmother before she was sent to live with her mother in Wisconsin when she was 6. She felt alone and abandoned during this move and it was truly a hard time especially for a young child. Before she could get comfortable in Wisconsin, she was sent to live with her father in Tennessee, before she moved back to live with her mother again.

At this point of her life, she experienced abuse from her family relatives. She was whipped by her grandmother that caused scars into her body, and was raped by a 19 year old cousin when she was 9 that left a scar into her soul. Between the ages 10 and 14, she experienced sexual assault from other relatives and later on became pregnant at 14. It was too heavy for a young teen’s mind to handle that she considered committing suicide. Unfortunately, the baby was born premature and died in the hospital. Despite all the abuse she suffered, she still managed to see a second chance in life. Thankfully, Winfrey didn’t end up losing this fight and continued to strive harder to become one of the most powerful women and inspiration to the world. This proves that no matter how painful your past is, God can still change your story into a beautiful testimony which you can share to others, especially to those who seem like they are about to give up on life. Your life has a purpose, it may not be visible now, but there will come a day that you will be thankful that you chose to move forward.


Living out the odds of surviving a life threatening illness like cancer is one of the greatest stories that any person would want to read about and be inspired with. If you’re finding the right story to read, then you might want to consider reading Kris Carr’s story. Carr is a New York Times best selling author, health and wellness activist, and a cancer survivor. When she was 32 years old, she received one of the most shocking news in her life. She does regular check ups with her doctor and during one of them, she was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer that was incurable at that time called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma. 

Most patients that are diagnosed with an incurable cancer would have just succumbed to it, but Carr did not do that exactly. She instead battled her cancer with a healthy lifestyle all the while, documenting her experience and posting it out entitled “Crazy, Sexy Cancer.” Nowadays, she’s still actively sharing out tips and bringing inspiration to a lot of cancer patients and regular people to keep themselves healthy at all times with her best selling books.


JK Rowling’s story tells us that failing doesn’t mean that you’re done for good. Failures should only push us to do more and be more. Rowling is the best-selling author of the Harry Potter series. This book series was translated into 73 languages, sold millions of copies all over the world, and garnered over $20 billion in movie adaptations and sponsorships. But life wasn’t always this good for Rowling. Before being able to publish the first book, she experienced a lot of failures and rejections that should have pushed her to just give up on the idea of writing the book. However, she went against all odds and tried everything. When she first got the idea for Harry Potter, Rowling wrote but was pulled back by the death of her mother. She slowly sank into depression and wasn’t able to write anything at all. She then took a one year teaching job in Portugal. Her goal was to be able to finish the first book before she comes back from Portugal. However, things didn’t go as planned. When she came back, all she had was a failed marriage and a baby to take care of all by herself. She only lived with the unemployment benefits given by the government. Despite having all failures and setbacks, she still continued writing. After finishing the first three chapters, she immediately sent copies to different publishers, only to be rejected every single time. After being rejected by 12 publishing companies, her manuscript was then read by the Bloomsbury publishing company’s editor and his 8 year old. The child liked it very much and asked for the whole version. That’s what made the editor say yes to publishing the books. After that, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published to the world. JK Rowling is the first female billionaire author that there is. Her story sends out a message that you should never be afraid to fail.


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