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The Most Inspiring Sports Photos Of 2012

It's been a heartwarming, heartwarming year.

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2. Barry Zito kisses his wife in the rain after the Giants won the pennant. Zito's struggles in San Francisco have been legendary since signing a large contract there in 2006.

Robert Galbraith / Reuters

But he found redemption in the 2012 play-offs with dominant performances that reminded people of the pitcher he used to be.

3. Nothing was expected in March Madness of little-heralded 15-seed Norfolk State, but that didn't stop them from upsetting number 2-seed Missouri.

4. St. Clairsville High star running back Michael Ferns hugs freshman Logan Thompson. Thompson's father had died the week before the game.

Jeff Stewart

Ferns had broken a long run that should have been a touchdown only to step out at the one-yard-line. The coach then put the little-playing freshman Thompson in at running back (despite the fact that he had never played the position before). He was told to just follow Ferns. Thompson did as he was told and scored his first varsity touchdown.Read more here.

5. Meghan Vogel carries Arden McMath across the finish line. Vogel had been in last place of the Ohio DIII High School 3,200m final when McMath collapsed in front of her.

Piqua Daily Call, Mike Ullery / AP

Vogel could have kept running, but instead she picked up McMath and carried her the rest of the way, making sure McMath crossed the finish line ahead of her.

6. Guide Guilherme Soares de Santana reacts to blind Paralympian Terezinha Guilhermina of Brazil winning gold before she knows she's won the Women's 100m T11 Final.

9. South Korean fencer Shin A-Lam refuses to leave the piste after she was wrongfully ruled to have lost her match. She appealed the ruling, but in fencing you cannot leave the mat during the appeal or else you are accepting the ruling.

(NBC)

Lam stayed on the piste for 45 minutes, and when the judge came out and revealed that Lam's appeal had been denied, she refused to go with him. Instead she stood up defiant. Read more here.

10. Liu Xiang kisses the final hurdle. After winning gold in the 110m hurdles in 2004, Xiang's Achilles tendon kept him from competing in 2008. When his race began at the London games, he went to jump the first hurdle and his Achilles gave out.

Anja Niedringhaus / AP

Xiang held his foot in pain before deciding to hop off the track and down the tunnel. But along the way he stopped and turned back around. He hopped alongside the length of the track, stopping to kiss the final hurdle, and then hopped across the finish line, where competitors from around the world embraced him. Read more here.

11. Despite derogatory cries in their home country, sprinter Sarah Attar and judoka Wojdan Shaherkhani become the first women to ever compete for Saudi Arabia at the Olympics.

16. The Kansas City Chiefs defense that Jovan Belcher led before he killed his girlfriend then himself meet in the tunnel before their game the day after Belcher's death.

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

The team went on to win what was only their second game of the year that day.

17. Johan Santana celebrates after accomplishing a feat many Mets fans thought they'd never see: a no-hitter. Until Santana last June, no Met in the team's 50-year history had ever done that.

19. Jeremy Lin celebrates on the floor of Madison Square Garden. Lin was an unheralded benchwarmer who played his college ball at Harvard and was sleeping on his teammate's couch.

Chris Trotman / Getty Images

Then in February he came out of nowhere and became one of the league's marquee players. And though he's struggled some this year, he's one of the most beloved basketball players alive.

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