[This post is part of a series on people who succeed despite adversity. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Continuing my series on people who succeeded adversity, I’ll start with deaf football player in today’s Superbowl, as shown in these two videos.
|Derrick Coleman||First offensive deaf football player in the NFL, who said ““They told me it couldn’t be done, that I was a lost cause. I was picked on and picked last. Coaches didn’t know how to talk to me. They gave up on me. Told me I should just quit. They didn’t call my name. Told me it was over. But I’ve been deaf since I was 3, so I didn’t listen.” Profiled in the New York Times.||Deaf since three years old, undrafted in 2012, then cut after being signed as a free agent. Bullied as a child.|
|Marilyn Monroe||Ranked as the sixth-greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. In the decades following her death, she has often been cited as both a pop and a cultural icon as well as the quintessential American sex symbol. In 2009, TV Guide Network named her No. 1 in Film’s Sexiest Women of All Time. While Monroe was a student, Lee Strasberg commented, “I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of actors and actresses, and there are only two that stand out way above the rest. Number one is Marlon Brando, and the second is Marilyn Monroe.”
||Born to an unstable mother and missing father, declared a ward of the state, lived in a string of foster homes where she survived assault and sexual assault, married at 16 to avoid returning to foster care; suffered severe stage fright; nude images of her were released in a scandal.|
|Jay Z||Rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. He is one of the most financially successful hip-hop artists and entrepreneurs in America. In 2012, Forbes estimated Carter’s net worth at nearly $500 million. Sold approximately 75 million records worldwide from all of his albums while receiving 17 Grammy Awards, and numerous additional nominations.Consistently ranked as one of the greatest rappers of all time, ranked number one by MTV in their list of The Greatest MCs of All-Time in 2006. Three of his albums, Reasonable Doubt (1996), The Blueprint (2001), and The Black Album (2003), are considered landmarks in the genre with all of them featured in Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Holds the record for most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200 with 13, has had four number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, ranked as the tenth-most successful artist of the 2000s by Billboard as well as the fifth top solo male artist and fourth top rapper, ranked the 88th greatest artist of all time by Rolling Stone.||His father abandoned the family. He claims in his lyrics that in 1982, at the age of 12, he shot his older brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewelry. In his music he refers to having been involved in selling crack cocaine. He has also said he had been shot at three times during this time in his life.|
|Bill Russell||Holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. Before his professional career, Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive NCAA championships (1955, 1956). He also won a gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics as captain of the U.S. national basketball team.Russell is widely considered one of the best players in NBA history. Russell’s shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the Celtics’ success. He also inspired his teammates to elevate their own defensive play. Russell was equally notable for his rebounding abilities. He led the NBA in rebounds four times, had a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds, and remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game. He is one of just two NBA players to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game. Though never the focal point of the Celtics’ offense, Russell also scored 14,522 career points and provided effective passing.The first African American player to achieve superstar status in the NBA. First African American NBA coach. For his accomplishments in the Civil Rights Movement on and off the court, Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2011.Russell is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was selected into NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971, into NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980 and named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, one of only four players that were selected for all three teams. Enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame. In 2009, the NBA announced that the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy would be named the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in honor of Russell.||Born in West Monroe, Louisiana. West Monroe was strictly segregated, and the Russells often struggled with racism Once, Russell’s father was refused service at a gasoline station until the staff had taken care of all the white customers. When his father attempted to leave and find a different station, the attendant stuck a shotgun in his face, threatening to kill him unless he stayed and waited his turn. Another time, Russell’s mother was walking outside in a fancy dress when a policeman accosted her. He told her to go home and remove the dress, which he described as “white woman’s clothing”. During WWII the family fell into poverty, and Russell spent his childhood living in a series of project homes. Cut from his high school basketball team. So tense before every game that he regularly threw up in the locker rooms.He and his few fellow African American colleagues were jeered by white students. Even after he became a star on the Boston Celtics, Russell was the victim of racial abuse. When the NBA All-Stars toured the U.S. in the 1958 offseason, white hotel owners in segregated North Carolina denied rooms to Russell and his black teammates, causing him to later write in his memoir Go Up for Glory, “It stood out, a wall which understanding cannot penetrate. You are a Negro. You are less. It covered every area. A living, smarting, hurting, smelling, greasy substance which covered you. A morass to fight from.” Before the 1961–62 season, Russell’s team was scheduled to play in an exhibition game in Lexington, Kentucky when Russell and his black teammates were refused service at a local restaurant. He and the other black teammates refused to play in the exhibition game and flew home, drawing a great deal of controversy and publicity.|
|Peter Falk||Actor, best known for his role as Lt. Columbo in the television series Columbo. He appeared in numerous films such as The Princess Bride, The Great Race and Next, and television guest roles. He was nominated for an Academy Award twice (for 1960’s Murder, Inc. and 1961’s Pocketful of Miracles), and won the Emmy Award on five occasions (four for Columbo) and the Golden Globe Award once. TV Guide ranked Falk number 21 on its 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list.||Falk’s right eye was surgically removed when he was three because of a retinoblastoma; he wore an artificial eye for most of his life. The artificial eye was the cause of his trademark squint. Despite his stage success, a theatrical agent advised Falk not to expect much film acting work because of his artificial eye. He failed a screen test at Columbia Pictures and was told by studio boss Harry Cohn: “For the same price I can get an actor with two eyes.”|
|Steven Spielberg||Film director, screenwriter, producer, and business magnate. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg’s films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg’s early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as archetypes of modern Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking. In later years, his films began addressing humanistic issues such as the Holocaust, the transatlantic slave trade, war, and terrorism.He is considered one of the most popular and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. He is also one of the co-founders of DreamWorks movie studio. Spielberg won the Academy Award for Best Director for Schindler’s List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). Three of Spielberg’s films—Jaws (1975), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Jurassic Park (1993)—achieved box office records, each becoming the highest-grossing film made at the time. To date, the unadjusted gross of all Spielberg-directed films exceeds $8.5 billion worldwide. Forbes puts Spielberg’s wealth at $3.3 billion.||Spielberg also said he suffered from acts of anti-Semitic prejudice and bullying in his early life: he later said, “In high school, I got smacked and kicked around. Two bloody noses. It was horrible.” Diagnosed with dyslexia, His career began when he returned to Universal Studios as an unpaid, seven-day-a-week intern and guest of the editing department (uncredited).At 17, a family friend who was an editorial executive at Universal found some work for him around the set, though this internship was slightly less than “official” and he could not be granted access to the studio lot. He showed up every day and snuck in. While hoping for a continued education in film, he soon found that the schooling was less than challenging, so he took his own route to success. Much like his previous internship, Spielberg kept sneaking onto Universal’s lot, networked with everyone and ducked his head into any department he could find his way into.|
|Shaun White||Professional snowboarder and skateboarder. He is a two-time Olympic gold medalist. He holds the X-Games records for gold medals and highest overall medal count, and has won 10 ESPY Awards.||Born with a Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect for which he endured two open-heart operations before the age of one.|
|John Muir||Naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States. One of the best-known hiking trails in the U.S., the 211-mile John Muir Trail, was named in his honor. Other such places include Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach, John Muir College, Mount Muir, Camp Muir and Muir Glacier.In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests. He petitioned the U.S. Congress for the National Park bill that was passed in 1890, establishing Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. The spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings inspired readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas. He is today referred to as the “Father of the National Parks” and the National Park Service has produced a short documentary about his life.||Beaten regularly by his father, in 1864, left school to go to Canada to avoid the military draft. In early March 1867, an accident changed the course of his life: a tool he was using slipped and struck him in the eye. He was confined to a darkened room for six weeks, worried whether he’d ever regain his sight. When he did, “he saw the world—and his purpose—in a new light,” writes Marquis. Muir later wrote, “This affliction has driven me to the sweet fields. God has to nearly kill us sometimes, to teach us lessons.” From that point on, he determined to “be true to myself” and follow his dream of exploration and study of plants.|
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