Who are the most famous victims of an Achilles tendon rupture of all time?
Stephen Pinney, MD
“Someone hit me on the back of the leg!” That is what people often say when they rupture their Achilles tendon. Then they look around and there is no one near them! The Achilles is the strongest tendon in the body. It begins as an extension of the calf muscle and inserts into the heel bone (calcaneus). Rupturing the Achilles tendon often occurs during a sudden dynamic movement to change directions. As such basketball, tennis, and squash are common activities associated with Achilles tendon ruptures. It is a tough injury that slows patients down for a number of months, although a good (but not necessary full) recovery can be expected. It is a pretty common injury for people (usually men) in their 30’s. 40’s, and 50’s.
Here is our top ten list of the 10 most famous people who have ruptured their Achilles tendon:
He was the leader of Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys” team that won back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. Thomas was a 12 time All-Star point guard and 1990 NBA Finals MVP who is now in the NBA Hall of Fame. However, his career came to a sudden end in April 1994 when he suffered an Achilles rupture in a game against the Orlando Magic.
This former US Vice President (1993-2000) and Nobel Peace Prize (2007) winning environmentalist ruptured his left Achilles playing pick-up basketball with members of the US House of representatives in 1994.
The renowned Oscar winning actress Dame Judi ruptured her Achilles in 1981 while rehearsing for the role of Grizabella in the West End debut of the musical CATS. As a result of the injury the part was given to Elaine Paige of EVITA fame.
In 1998 this Oscar winning actor suffered an Achilles injury while filming the movie Mystery, Alaska. It was managed non-surgically. However, in 2010 he finally underwent operative treatment of his now chronic Achilles problem.
The 18x All Star and 5 times NBA Champion Los Angeles Laker ruptured his left Achilles tendon on April 12th2013. Bryant heroically rehabilitated his surgically repaired Achilles and returned to the NBA in December 2014. He retired on April 13th 2016 scoring 60 points in his last NBA game.
The former WWE wrestling star (known as “The Rock”) turned Hollywood leading man, and People Magazine’s Sexist Man alive (2016) ruptured his Achilles filming The Game Plan in 2006. Playing a quarterback in the movie he felt the tendon pop and subsequently had it surgically repaired. He recovered and continued his career as a professional wrestler –and 2016’s highest paid Hollywood star.
4. David Beckham
The famous British soccer star, fashion icon, Sexist Man alive (2015) and husband of Posh Spice ruptured his left Achilles playing soccer for AC Milan on March 14th 2010. The injury caused him to miss the 2010 World Cup. He recovered and resumed his career in September 2010 moving to North America and eventually leading the Los Angeles Galaxy to the MLS championship in 2011 and 2012.
The Academy award winning actor, social activist, world’s sexiest man (1997 & 2006) ruptured his Achilles tendon playing basketball in 2003.
Not to be outdone by his pal George Clooney leading actor and sexiest man alive (1995 & 2000) ruptured his left Achilles tendon ironically playing the part of Achilles himself in the movie Troy (2004). The injury delayed the filming of the movie’s final scene by 10 weeks.
The man, the myth, the legend! Achilles was the ultimate Greek warrior and hero of the Trojan war. His life is chronicled by Homer in the Iliad. He was the son of Thetis, a beautiful Nereid, and Peleus King of the Myrmidons. Dipped in the river Styx as baby by his Mother he was rendered invulnerable –except for his heel, which she held while dipping him. During the Trojan war Achilles’ “invulnerability” allowed him to wreak havoc on the Trojans until he was struck in his heel by Paris’ arrow –dying of the wound.
The risks of suffering an Achilles rupture include being a man, being in your 30’s or 40’s, playing sports –and apparently being voted People Magazine’s sexist man alive.
What do you think of our list? Who did we miss?
For more on Achilles tendon ruptures check out Footeducation.com.