Scott Hamilton's Amazing Ups and Challenging Downs, in Photos
A true survivor, Scott Hamilton is still monitoring his third brain tumor after being told it shrunk — without treatment. The legendary Olympic skater has said at this point that "I choose to celebrate life," so we're honoring his words by looking back at his life as he's lived it — and celebrating his triumphant story on the new People/Entertainment Weekly (PEN) six-part docu-series Scott Hamilton Today, which premieres on May 2.
Diagnosed at an early age with Shwachman’s syndrome — a disorder that interferes with the body's ability to digest food, thus impairing growth — Hamilton started skating after a false start in gymnastics when he was 9 years old. In 1983, at 24, he was a three-time national champion, en route to another world championship and an Olympic gold medal. (He's pictured here in 1980.)
Hamilton donated his gold medal from 1984 to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "I didn’t want the light to shine bright at the Olympics and then get dimmer every year after that," he told PEOPLE in 1992. Though he continued to skate in exhibitions and in the Discover Card Stars on Ice throughout the late '80s and early '90s, he moved on to a career in broadcasting, commenting on ice skating for CBS.
FULL OF FIGHT
A NEW ROUTINE
In 2005, Hamilton was again confronted with the C-word. This time it was craniopharyngioma, a rare noncancerous tumor near his pituitary gland, that was threatening the 46-year-old. Hamilton underwent an unusual treatment called a Gamma Knife, which virtually destroyed the tumor, though the cyst that surrounded it required months of monitoring before he was in the clear.
In 2008, Hamilton and Tracie gave birth to a second boy, Maxx. Hamilton had hardly been resting on his laurels since recovering from his 2005 ordeal: in 2007 he played a skating announcer in Blades of Glory starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder, and completed taping episodes for the ABC TV series Wanna Bet? as well as AOL Television’s Jury Duty.
THE WORST LUCK
During his 2009 brain surgery, doctors nicked an artery in Hamilton’s brain, causing an aneurysm that had to be removed days later, which resulted in the loss of two-thirds of the vision in his right eye. "He's a hero to me in the way he handles adversity and his positive outlook on life, no matter the circumstances," friend Brad Paisley told PEOPLE in 2010.
Pictured here in the closing ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Hamilton made an "official" return to the ice in 2009, at his annual Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative benefit.
Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Hamilton and his wife adopted two children from the stricken country. “When the earthquake happened in Haiti in 2010, Tracie wanted to do whatever she could to help,” he told PEOPLE in 2015. “We went down and met these kids, and fell in love." Jean Paul and Evelyne joined the family in 2014.
STRENGTH BEYOND STRENGTH
Paisley presented Hamilton with the lifetime humanitarian award at the T.J. Martell Foundation 9th Annual Nashville Honors Gala.
Speaking to PEOPLE around that time, Hamilton shared the good news: his tumor shrunk! "I was the recipient of a spectacular miracle," he said, adding that he gave up sugar and other "toxic and unhealthy" food and drink. "I stayed with the program, eliminated all the unhealthy stuff and have been getting strong. I'm keeping an eye on it, and there's no treatment needed at this time."
THE WAITING GAME
In a November 2017 chat with PEOPLE, Hamilton said he'll find out in December if the tumor has decreased — or increased — in size. But “I’ve got too much to do every day to worry,” he said. "It will be fine no matter what it shows. I’m just trying to stay in my lane and do good things, and take advantage of the time that I have.”
That time will be packed: the star has a book due out in February and will be joining NBC for the Olympics in South Korea that same month.