Athletes Who Were Robbed Of Their Big Moments

As the classic opening for The Wide World of Sports used to say, sports are about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Sometimes, though, that agony isn't just about defeat—it's about having that thrill of victory snatched away from you at the last possible second. Is there anything worse that thinking you're about to achieve your ultimate dream, only to have it all come crashing down? For the answer, just ask these athletes who were robbed of a big moment.

Russell Wilson and Ricardo Lockette

It immediately became one of the most famous plays in the history of football. With just 24 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIX, the Seattle Seahawks lined up at the New England Patriots' one yard line, needing a touchdown to win the game. Russell Wilson dropped back to pass, with visions of glory and a Super Bowl MVP trophy. And his pass to receiver Ricardo Lockette was right on the number. Unfortunately, that number was 21, worn by Patriots DB Malcolm Butler, who came out of nowhere to steal the win right out from Lockette's hands. Derp.

Nancy Kerrigan

Nancy Kerrigan had sure victory stolen from her not once, but twice at the 1994 Winter Olympics. First, and most famously, the clear frontrunner for the women's figure skating gold medal was viciously attacked during training by goons working on behalf of rival Tonya Harding. Then, after Kerrigan rallied to turn in what she considered to be the best performance of her life, skating's notoriously shady judges shockingly awarded the gold to Oksana Baiul instead. Talk about your double whammy.

Armando Galarraga

In 2010, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga stood just one batter away from throwing only the 21st perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball. And when he induced a ground ball from Cleveland Indians batter Jason Donald, it looked like that honor was about to be his forever. Everything went pear shaped, though, when first base umpire Jim Joyce ruled Donald safe even though he was clearly and obviously out by a full step. Joyce later tearfully apologized for the blunder, earning Galarraga's forgiveness. But the damage was already done.

Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima

At the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Brazilian marathoner Vanderlei Cordeiro seemed to be cruising for certain victory, opening up a 30 second lead at the 22 mile mark. Then the unthinkable happened: a deranged fan named Cornelius Horan jumped out of the crowd and attacked him. Other spectators were finally able to wrestle Horan off de Lima, but de Lima's lead was gone. His rhythm disrupted by the attack, de Lima developed severe cramps and faded to a distant third, settling for a bronze medal instead of the gold that should have rightfully been his.

Sean Woods

The 1992 NCAA Tournament's men's basketball East Regional Final between Kentucky and Duke is considered by many to be the greatest college basketball game of all time. It's remembered now mainly for "The Shot"—the game winning turnaround jumper by Christian Laettner as time expired that gave Duke a 104-103 victory. You know what the game is not remembered for, though? The would-be game winning shot that Sean Woods hit for Kentucky with 2.1 seconds left to put them up 103-102. Sean who? Yeah, exactly. Instead, this article even features a picture of Laettner instead of Woods. So unfair.

Kevin Dyson

Here's the situation. Super Bowl XXXIV. The St. Louis Rams lead the Tennessee Titans 23-16. The Titans have the ball on the St. Louis 10-yard line with six seconds to play and no time outs left. Score a touchdown, the game goes to overtime, or with a two-point conversion, the Titans win. Otherwise, the Rams win. Tennessee draws up the perfect play, a slant up the middle to receiver Kevin Dyson. It works to perfection, as quarterback Steve McNair hits Dyson in stride. Dyson streaks in for the score. Except...wait, no he doesn't. At the last second, linebacker Mike Jones sees the pay unfolding and dives, wrapping up Dyson by the legs. Dyson falls forward, stretching the ball towards the goal line and comes up just a couple inches short. Just like that, the Rams are legend, and Dyson is another what might have been.

Lindsey Jacobellis

Lindsey Jacobellis has won ten snowboard cross gold medals at the Winter X Games, and another four at the Snowboarding World Championships. But the Olympics are different matter, as her gold medal dreams were snatched away at the last second by an unlikely enemy: herself. Leading by three seconds going into the final jump at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Jacobellis decided to showboat by doing a method grab. Instead, she crashed, allowing Tanja Frieden to zoom by her for the win. Here's a hint for all you aspiring athletes out there: wait until after you've actually won to start celebrating.

Bruce Hurst

The collapse of the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is one of the most iconic and devastating moments in American sports history. But there's one specific member of the team who particularly got robbed by the heroics of the New York Mets: Bruce Hurst. With the Red Sox winning 5-3 with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, everyone was so sure Boston was going to win that Hurst was actually voted World Series MVP. When New York rallied to win, though, that honor was cancelled, and after the Mets won Game 7, it was Ray Knight rather than Hurst who officially got the prize. Talk about adding insult to injury.

The 1972 U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team

Going into the 1972 Summer Olympics, the U.S. Men's Basketball Team had never lost a game in the Olympics, rolling to seven straight gold medals. But a series of bizarre events in the final seconds of the title game against the Soviet Union would rob them of a chance for an eigth. After the United States scored with three seconds left to take a 50-49 lead, the Soviets inbounded the ball. But before time could expire on their failed play, officials blew the action dead due to a dispute over time outs. Time was put back on the clock, the Soviets inbounded the ball a second time and again failed to score, resulting in an American celebration, pictured here. But again the officials reset the clock, and the U.S.S.R. was granted a third attempt to win the game. Which they did. The American players to this day still refuse to accept their silver medals.