Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 5/15/12

Some of the best athletes in the world became great because they could dedicate their childhoods and adolescence to training in the best gyms with the best coaches. Their parents invested in their careers and they succeeded. But other stories are far more inspiring, showing that talent, determination, and maybe a bit of luck can take you farther than a fat bank account can. These athletes may have started out with nothing, but now they’re raking in the cash, being honored by their countries, and providing motivation for kids out there with big dreams.

  1. Michael Oher

    You know you’ve got an inspiring come-from-behind story when Hollywood makes a movie out of it. The film about football and family, The Blind Side earned Sandra Bullock an Oscar and Michael Oher a lot of deserved respect. Oher, who was a star offensive lineman for the University of Mississippi and now for the Baltimore Ravens, grew up as one of 13 children in his family, ending up in foster care and occasionally on the streets. Then he met the Tuohys, a family who ended up adopting him and helping turn his life around. Now with his story on the big screen and his career pushing forward in the NFL, Oher is inspiring people across the country.

  2. Usain Bolt

    It may be no surprise that one of the fastest men in the world could skyrocket to success by the age of 22, but Usain Bolt’s upbringing is far away from the fame he’s achieved. He grew up in a village, Trelawny Parish, in Jamaica where they still don’t have street lights and running water service is spotty. Villagers say it was only brought to the village because of Bolt’s three Olympic gold medals. Bolt used to play cricket in the street with an orange and a banana tree stump because athletic supplies weren’t readily available. But obviously none of this stopped Bolt from reaching his potential, as he has won five World gold medals on top of his Olympic honors, and holds the records in the 100 meters, the 200 meters, and the 4×100 meters relay.

  3. Jameel McClain

    Another Baltimore Raven, Jameel McClain’s story is just as inspiring as that of Michael Oher. McClain grew up in Philadelphia with barely enough to get by. He was lucky to get meals and sometimes shelter from his local Salvation Army. His best pair of shoes growing up was a pair he found hanging from a telephone wire. But his skills in football helped pull him out of poverty. He played for Syracuse, and even though he was undrafted, was picked up by the Ravens as a free agent in 2008. He now doesn’t have to worry about food, shelter, or shoes and gives back to local Salvation Armys when he has the chance.

  4.  For the rest of this list GO HERE
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