Judge's 62 HRs, Griner freed in top 2022 uplifting sports moments


The year is coming to a close, and there were some major stories that tugged at our heartstrings throughout 2022.

From Brittney Griner being released to NFL postseason thrillers and MLB history being made, 2022 has undoubtedly brought us many uplifting moments in the sports world.

But which moments were the most uplifting throughout the year? While it may be hard to narrow it down, here's a look at 10 of the most uplifting sports stories of 2022:

Brittney Griner freed in US-Russia prisoner swap

WNBA superstar Brittney Griner was finally released from a Russian prison after a 294-day detainment. 

The 32-year-old Phoenix Mercury star was released to the United States when President Joe Biden exchanged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner in a prisoner swap. This came four months after she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug possession and smuggling charges.

On Dec. 8, she was finally freed and was able to be reunited with her family. The sports community rallied alongside Griner and celebrated her arrival home.

Saudi Arabia declares public holiday after Argentina win

Saudi Arabia had quite the World Cup experience, despite falling to the bottom of Group C in Qatar.

After the Green Falcons completed a massive 2-1 upset over Lionel Messi and Argentina in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, King Salman ordered a public holiday for the nation. The holiday will be for all state employees “and the private sector, and male and female students in all educational stages,” the government announced.

Though Saudi Arabia was knocked out of World Cup contention, there will be an official day they can always use to reminisce on their inspiring win over Argentina, the eventual 2022 World Cup champion.

Aaron Judge breaks AL HR record, signs massive deal

Aaron Judge had a pretty stellar year.

The 30-year-old star passed Roger Maris and set the American League single-season record with 62 home runs, capped off his historic season by winning the coveted AL MVP award and then went on to secure a mega deal from the New York Yankees.

The Yankees re-signed the outfielder to a nine-year, $360 million deal after he declined offers from other teams. And now, he looks to become the 16th captain of the team in the franchise's history.

NBA retires Bill Russell's legendary No. 6 jersey

NBA legend and 11-time champion Bill Russell died on July 31 at the age of 88. The NBA announced shortly after his death that No. 6 would be retired across the league out of respect for the 12-time All-Star and five-time league MVP.

Aside from Russell's on-court accomplishments, he was also legendary off the court as well. He was a leader in the American Civil Rights movement and also participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963. Russell was the league's first Black head coach and won two titles as a coach-player.

In 2011, former president Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Saint Peter's historic March Madness run ends with loss to UNC

March Madness is always bound to feature a few close-game thrillers, but every once in a while, there are sprinkles of heartfelt moments as well. None is more wholesome than the historic run of the Saint Peter's men’s basketball team.

The small Jesuit university in Jersey City made just its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance – and first since 2011 – while knocking off Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue to become the first No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight.

While their March Madness appearance brought smiles to many fans' faces, their run ended on March 27 as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament champions were blown out 69-49 by North Carolina.

Manchester City wins EPL title after last-minute comeback

Manchester City claimed its eighth English Premier League title after successfully defending its Premier League crown with a 3-2 comeback win over Aston Villa. It was a much-needed victory after the win helped them edge out Liverpool – preventing them from being crowned champions.

Manchester City has now won four of the last five Premier League titles and six total since 2011-12. 

Rich Strike wins Kentucky Derby in stunning upset

Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby in one of the biggest upsets in Derby history.

Rich Strike went off with 80-1 odds and won the race after starting in the 20th post position – the farthest on the outside. He is just the second horse to win the Derby from that position.

The horse was not even scheduled to race in the Derby field, but when Ethereal Road was scratched, that allowed jockey Sonny Leon and trainer Eric Reed to win in their first attempt.

Timothy Weah scores first World Cup goal against Wales since Pele

United States men’s national forward Timothy Weah became the first player to score a World Cup goal against Wales since Brazilian soccer legend Pele during the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

The goal also marked the 22-year-old Weah’s debut goal in the World Cup in the Americans' 1-1 draw with Wales. 

Pele, who was 17 years old when he did it in 1958 (the last time Wales played at the World Cup before this year in Qatar) took time to congratulate Weah on the accomplishment.

Weah is the son of George Weah, the current president of Liberia and the 1995 world player of the year. Weah has scored four goals in 26 appearances for the United States.

U.S. Soccer, women players settle equal pay lawsuit

The United States women’s soccer team scored a significant win this year after finally reaching an agreement with the sport’s American governing body to end a six-year legal battle over equal pay.

The U.S. women's team has won four World Cups since the program’s start in 1985, while the Men's National Team hasn’t made a semifinal appearance since 1930. Still, the women have received lesser pay than their male counterparts. 

Five of the players, led by Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, made a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 2016. Three years later, the women decided to sue and seek damages under the federal Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The fight for equal pay was then sparked in 2019 shortly after the USWNT won their second-straight World Cup crown in France, led by Rapinoe and Morgan.

The deal with the U.S. Soccer Federation, which was approved in August, promised the players $22 million and a donation of $2 million from the USSF to the players in aid of their post-soccer careers.

Chiefs outlast Bills in Divisional Round OT thriller

In January, two of the league's best quarterbacks battled it out on the field in what has been labeled one of the greatest NFL playoff games in history. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen faced off at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium for the AFC Divisional playoffs where the Buffalo Bills took on the Kansas City Chiefs.

The game was legendary for more reasons than one: Three go-ahead touchdowns in the final two minutes of regulation for the first time in NFL history, 188 passing yards thrown by Mahomes after the two-minute warning and just thirteen seconds left on the clock for the Chiefs to set up and convert a game-tying field goal -- which they did.

Mahomes and the Chiefs went on to defeat Allen and the Bills 42-36 in the OT thriller. It was the best display of top-end talent on the biggest stages until Messi and Mbappe met in Qatar to decide the winner of the 2022 World Cup.

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