Everyone Likes a Good Comeback Story

Life is filled with success and failure. We all endure struggles; while many can rise above them, some find life’s challenges destroying their happiness.

So, what is it about a comeback story that makes us feel so good?

I believe these individual journeys inspire us and give us hope.

Comeback stories are about individuals who’ve achieved great things but then suffer an earth-shattering setback. Yet, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, come back they do — often even stronger than before.

A Couple Truly Inspiring Comebacks

Tennis Great Monica Seles

Monica Seles is a retired professional tennis player who became the youngest French Open champion in 1990. The following year, she was the first-ranked tennis player in the world, destined to be one of the greatest players of all time.   

In 1993, during a tennis match in Hamburg, Germany, a spectator ran up behind her on the court and stabbed her between the shoulder blades with a nine-inch boning knife. Though her physical injuries healed quickly, the psychological trauma left much deeper wounds. Many thought she’d never return to tennis.

But in 1995, Seles returned to play in the Canadian Open and won her first tournament after rejoining the circuit. She went on to win two more major tennis titles before retiring in 2008, leaving the game with an impressive legacy.

Actor Robert Downey, Jr.

Though some may not be a cheerleader to those instrumental in their own demise, the story of Robert Downey, Jr., is quite uplifting. One of the most legendary Hollywood comeback stories, Downey’s transformation from an unhirable drug addict to a big-screen star is impressive.

In the late 1980s, Downey began making a name for himself as an actor. He earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Chaplin and was well on a journey to a successful acting career.


Robert Downey Jr. as Chaplin

But in 1996, he was arrested for cocaine and heroin possession, cycled in and out of jail, and spent the next seven years of his life battling and losing against addiction. In 2001, he was arrested while aimlessly walking barefoot in the middle of Culver City, Calif., and court-mandated into rehabilitation. Film industry directors would not touch him despite his promise and commitment to sobriety.

Mel Gibson agreed to underwrite Downey’s on-set insurance so they both could star in the 2003 movie The Singing Detective. Downey’s performance was nothing less than amazing.

Once deemed untouchable, he has become one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, renowned and beloved for his role as Tony Stark in the Marvel superhero universe.

“Remember that just because you hit bottom doesn’t mean you have to stay there,” Downey, Jr., once said.

His bounce-back story illustrates that even those who make it to the mountain peak must be careful not to fall off.

There are so many comeback stories, each of them powerful and inspiring in their own way. And sometimes, in the face of all of life’s struggles, that’s what we need: Inspiration to know that, no matter how low rock-bottom may feel, we don’t have to stay there. Everyone likes a good comeback story because it just makes us feel good on many levels.

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