Armstrong’s fight lasted even longer than that.
The testicular-cancer survivor won the Tour de France seven times, all while dogged by the stigma of he-must-be-cheating. Armstrong was never caught by a drug test, but rather was ultimately done in largely by the words of his former teammates. Armstrong continues to deny doping, but simply said his fight had gone on long enough.
Giving up has come with a price. Armstrong cut ties to his well-known charity, Livestrong, and longtime sponsor Nike — among other corporations — cut ties with him.
And as for Summitt, one of the greatest names in coaching, her last loss was against an invisible opponent.
Summitt stepped down as Tennessee’s coach in April, a few months after revealing she has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. Summitt led Tennessee to eight national titles in her 38-year tenure, winning 1,098 Division I games along the way.
“It’s never a good time,” Summitt said. “But you have to find the time that you think is the right time and that is now.”
Still, the year wasn’t gloom and doom for everyone, not by a long shot.
Alabama got a chance to avenge a loss to LSU and win college football’s national championship, the second for the Tide in three years. The Tide will be back in the BCS title game again in January, against rising and surprising Notre Dame.
Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers became baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in 45 years.
The Kings put together a stunning run through the Stanley Cup playoffs, the last celebratory moment the NHL got to enjoy before more labor strife led to a lockout.
Baylor went 40-0 for the NCAA women’s basketball title, while Kentucky returned to the top of the men’s game.
And the Giants (New York) and Giants (San Francisco) more than lived up to their names, in championship fashion.
But if there was one happy ending among all those the drawn-out sagas of this sports year, it was the year James had with the Heat.
Miami won the NBA title, beating Oklahoma City in five games for the franchise’s second title and the first for James, who left Cleveland for the Heat two years earlier for moments such as that. He won the league’s MVP award. He won the NBA Finals MVP award. He even helped the Americans win another basketball gold medal at the London Olympics.
After all he went through — from hero to villain, revered to pariah for his infamous “Decision” — James found a way to shake it all off and complete his quest.