The Top 10 Sports Stories of 2013

From harrowing scandals to high-profile legal battles, the last 12 months have been chock full of hard-hitting headlines across the sports world. With 2013 coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on the biggest sports stories of the year, presented in chronological order:

1. Lance Armstrong Admits to Doping

Lance Armstrong shocked the world when he admitted to doping throughout most of his cycling career, including all seven Tour de France titles.

For many years, Armstrong not only denied allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs, but often took it a step further by vehemently attacking his accusers.

Check out the video clip below to look back at some of his many denials:

Looking Back at Lance Armstrong's Many DenialsYears of speculation is about to end as the first part of Lance Armstrong's television interview with Oprah Winfrey is aired on Thursday night. Any admission of drug use by Armstrong will end more than a decade of denials. (Jan. 17)2013-01-17T21:57:55.000Z

Armstrong made his admission during an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey on January 13. Watch him finally come clean:

Lance Armstrong's Confession | Oprah's Next Chapter | Oprah Winfrey NetworkRETWEET THIS: For the first time since cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from elite competition by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, he sits down for a no-holds-barred interview, with Oprah. For years, he's denied that he used banned substances to enhance his cycling performance. Will…2013-01-18T04:38:51.000Z

2. Manti Te’o’s Girlfriend Doesn’t Exist

The public gasped in disbelief when Deadspin discovered that Lennay Kekua, the purported girlfriend of then-Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, did not exist.

Te’o spoke in great detail about the fictional Kekua, who he claimed lost a battle with leukemia after surviving a bad car wreck.

The video below covers her “death” before the hoax was uncovered:

Manti Te'o- Overcoming TragedyThe star Notre Dame LB reveals his road to ND plus off the field tragedies including the death of his girlfriend and grandmother2012-10-06T18:15:49.000Z

Deadspin’s report prompted Notre Dame to hire a team of private investigators to get to the bottom of this incredibly bizarre story. In a January 16 press conference, athletic director Jack Swarbrick claimed that Te’o’ was the victim of a hoax carried out by a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo in an “exclusively online relationship.”

But Swarbrick’s statement conflicted with previous accounts by Te’o and his family that the couple had met in person on multiple occasions.

Naturally, many suspected that Te’o himself was a part of the hoax. Some went as far as calling him the mastermind. Others, including NFL general managers, even wondered if Te’o is gay.

Tuiasosopo ultimately confessed to the hoax during a two-part interview with Dr. Phil McGraw on the “Dr. Phil Show” on January 31 and February 1. He claimed he fell in love with Te’o and created “Lennay Kekua” as a way to maintain an ongoing relationship.

Te’o has moved past the unimaginable embarrassment to become the starting middle linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, who selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft.

3. Kevin Ware’s Gruesome Injury

On March 31, college hoops fans around the world tuned in to watch two storied programs, Duke and Louisville, battle it out on the hardwood for a berth in the Final Four. But when the game ended, nobody was talking about the score.

Instead, players, coaches and fans were praying for Louisville guard Kevin Ware, who suffered a horrific leg injury — one of the worst you’ll ever see during a sporting event.

Kevin Ware injury, Louisville

Ware landed awkwardly after attempting to block a shot, suffering a freak accident that left onlookers extremely unnerved. The 20-year-old sustained a severe compound fracture that caused his exposed right tibia to puncture through his skin.

Ware’s courage and strength in the wake of the incident became a rallying point for Louisville, who went on to not only top Duke, but win the whole shebang. In a truly inspirational moment, Ware took part in the traditional net-cutting ceremony after the Cardinals defeated Michigan in the national championship game.

Although the unsightly injury appeared to be career-ending, Ware is making a speedy recovery and, remarkably, has already returned to the basketball court. In fact, on November 6, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Bronx native drilled his first shot attempt in his first game back following the accident.

4. Boston Marathon Bombing

Boston Marathon bombing

Steeped in more than 100 years of tradition, the Boston Marathon is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the country. Held every year on Patriots’ Day, the event attracts roughly 20,000 participants annually.

The marathon finish line, usually a place of celebration and camaraderie, became a scene of unimaginable horror during the 117th annual Boston Marathon. At 2:49 p.m., two pressure-cooker bombs exploded roughly 10 seconds and 100 yards apart near the finish line, killing three and injuring 264.

On April 18, the FBI identified Chechen refugees Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as the suspects. Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a gunfight with police in the early hours of April 19. An unparalleled manhunt followed followed as thousands of law enforcement officers pursued Dzhokhar in Watertown, Massachusetts. The 19-year-old was captured in the evening without incident after a Watertown resident discovered the suspect in his boat.

5. Jason Collins Comes Out as Gay

NBA center Jason Collins made history by becoming the first active player in one of the four major American professional team sports to come out as gay. The 7-footer made the announcement via the cover story for the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated, which was posted on the magazine’s website on April 29.

Watch Collins discuss his decision to come out in the video below:

Jason Collins Interview 2013: First Gay Pro Athlete to Come Out Speaks With 'GMA'Veteran NBA player is the first openly gay professional athlete in the four major American sports. For more on this story, click here:

6. Aaron Hernandez Charged With Murder

Ex-New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez traded a life of fame and fortune for shackles and an orange jumpsuit. On June 18, the 24-year-old was investigated in connection to the shooting death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, whose body was discovered in an industrial park roughly a mile from Hernandez’s home.

On June 26, Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder. On August 22, he was indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder and weapons charges, to which he later pleaded not guilty.

Watch Hernandez’s arraignment below:

Aaron Hernandez pleads not guiltyFormer New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez pleads not guilty to the murder of Odin Lloyd and other weapons charges.2013-09-06T18:56:39.000Z

Hernandez is currently being held without bail at the Bristol County House of Correction in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, while awaiting trial. If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

7. Alex Rodriguez Among 13 Suspended in Biogenesis Scandal

Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was one of several Major League Baseball players linked by a Miami New Times report to Biogenesis — a clandestine anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Florida, accused of illegally distributing performance-enhancing drugs.

Biogenesis whistleblower Porter Fischer leaked the documents that led to the MLB investigation into the scandalous wellness clinic.

Many speculated that commissioner Bud Selig would levy a lifetime ban on A-Rod — a multiple offender under baseball’s anti-drug policy — for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.

On August 5, MLB suspended the disgraced Rodriguez, along with 12 other players, for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. All received 50-game suspensions except Rodriguez, who was banned from August 8 through the end of the 2014 season — a total of 211 games.

While the other 12 players accepted their suspensions, A-Rod opted to appeal the ruling. With his baseball future hanging in the balance, the 38-year-old is currently entangled in a lengthy legal battle with MLB.

If upheld, the suspension would be the longest non-lifetime ban in the history of the sport.

Rodriguez is a 14-time All-Star, three-time American League MVP and currently ranks fifth all-time with 654 career home runs.

8. NFL Concussion Settlement

On August 29, the NFL reached a settlement with the 4,500 former players who sued the league over concussion-related brain injuries suffered on the field.

The settlement has drawn mixed opinions from pundits and former players. Watch the discussion on ESPN’s Outside the Lines below:

ESPN 2 – Outside the Lines – NFL Concussion LawsuitsRicardo Martinez Cid, partner at Miami-based law firm Podhurst Orseck, was featured on ESPN 2's "Outside the Lines" panel discussion of the recent NFL concussion lawsuits. Podhurst Orseck represents over 90 ex-NFL players in what has now become a nationwide multi-district class action case against the NFL.2012-02-09T15:07:36.000Z

Under the agreement, the league will contribute $765 million to provide medical benefits and injury compensation for 18,000 retired NFL players, underwrite medical and safety research and cover legal fees. Although the NFL has maintained that safety has always been a paramount concern, commissioner Roger Goodell told pro football’s lawyers to “do the right thing for the game and the men who played it.”

Check out the press release below:

NFL Concussion Lawsuit Press Release

9. Mariano Rivera Calls it a Career

After nearly two decades as one of the most dominant players in Major League Baseball, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera called it a career after the 2013 season.

Check out the video below to watch Rivera make his final trip to the mound at Yankee Stadium:

Mariano Rivera makes final entrance at Yankee Stadium9/26/13: Mariano Rivera trots in from the bullpen to "Enter Sandman" for the final time at Yankee Stadium Check out for our full archive of videos, and subscribe on YouTube for the best, exclusive MLB content: About Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced on January 19, 2000, that the 30 Major League…2013-09-27T06:35:06.000Z

In his 19 seasons with the Yankees, Rivera made 13 All-Star teams, won five World Series championships and became the MLB’s all-time leader in saves (652). All the more amazing, he was able to pitch at such an elite level for so long throwing just one pitch — the cutter.

The Yankees retired his number 42 during a 50-minute ceremony on September 22, which New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg decreed “Mariano Rivera Day.”

Here’s what he had to say to the fans:

Mariano Rivera addresses the fans on Mariano Rivera DayMariano Rivera speaks to the fans during his retirement ceremony on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.2013-09-23T20:04:11.000Z

10. Richie Incognito & Jonathan Martin Bullying Controversy

The issue of bullying entered the national spotlight when it allegedly occurred in one of the most unlikely places on the planet — an NFL locker room.

On October 30, Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the team to receive professional help for emotional issues. According to FOX News, the second-year player from Stanford stormed out of the facility after Dolphins players pulled a prank on him in the cafeteria.

Details began to surface about a bullying situation involving Martin and fellow Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito. Soon thereafter, vulgar, profanity-laced text messages, tweets and voicemails purportedly sent by Incognito to Martin were made public.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins wasted no time in suspending Incognito for conduct detrimental to the team as more details and reports revealed a pattern of abusive behavior.

Incognito sat down for an exclusive interview with FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer following the incident. Watch it here:

Richie Incognito sits down with Jay Glazer – Extended InterviewWatch the extended version of Jay Glazer's exclusive interview with Richie Incognito.2013-11-11T05:33:20.000Z

Reactions from fans, pundits and players have been mixed. Several Dolphins players, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill, came to Incognito’s defense.

Neither Martin nor Incognito will return to the team this season.

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