Scott Hamilton

Six weeks after his birth, Scott Hamilton was adopted by Ernest and Dorothy Hamilton of Bowling Green, Ohio. When Scott was about two, he contracted a mysterious illness that caused him to stop growing. For the next six years, doctors prescribed a variety of unsuccessful treatments. After his illness was mistakenly diagnosed as cystic fibrosis and he was given six months to live, the Hamiltons took their son to Boston's Children's Hospital where his ailment began to correct itself with the aid of a special diet and moderate exercise. Soon he felt well enough to watch his older sister Susan on an ice-skating outing and decided to try skating himself.

From the beginning, Scott skated with great confidence and uncommon speed. His illness disappeared and he began to grow again, although he would always be considerably smaller than his peers. His miraculous recovery was attributed to the effects of intense physical activity in the cold atmosphere of the rink.

At age 13, he left home to train for national competition. His mother, a grade school teacher, went back to school and became a college professor to help finance his expensive training, even as she was undergoing treatment for cancer. When his mother died, Scott resolved to become a world champion, and succeeded despite the resistance of skating judges who believed he was too small to compete at the international level.

By 1980, he had captured third place in national competition and won a place on the U.S. Olympic squad. He finished fifth at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. His dazzling free-skating program at the 1981 National and World Championships won him both titles. He won every national and world competition for the next four years, capping his career with a gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.

On turning professional after his Olympic victory, he again encountered resistance, this time from promoters and television executives who believed that only female figure skaters could draw an audience. He starred in the Ice Capades for two years (1984-86), until a change of ownership led to his abrupt dismissal. Frustrated with the lack of commercial opportunities for male figure skaters, Hamilton created his own professional ice revue, The Scott Hamilton America Tour, which evolved into the touring spectacle Stars on Ice. His ebullient personality, humor and showmanship revolutionized the role of the male figure skater, and helped create a vast new audience for figure skating. After 12 years of unsuccessfully pitching proposals to skeptical television executives, he at last won the first in a series of prime time network television specials. He won the first professional world figure skating championship in 1984, won again in 1986, and captured the Open Professional in 1990, the Diet Coke Championship in 1992 and the Gold Championships in 1994. In 1990, he was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

In 1997, his life and career were again threatened by illness. He underwent successful surgery for cancer and within a few months was back on the ice, in top form once again. His autobiography, Landing It, was published in 1999.


Q & A With Scott Hamilton:

PR & S: What is your favorite motto to live by?

Hamilton : The questions of winter are answered in the summer” and “If you do anything long enough, everything will happen.”

PR & S: When did you know exactly what you wanted to achieve?

Hamilton: I still don’t know. I have felt at times that I am on this amazing ride that could end up practically anywhere.

PR & S: Of the Four Essential and Attainable Elements for fulfillment and success – TALENT, RAGE, TEAM and LUCK – in what order would you rank your possession of them?


  • RAGE
  • TEAM
  • LUCK

PR & S: Who are/were 3 of your greatest support team members?

Hamilton: Mother- Dorothy Hamilton, Friend – Helen McLoraine, Coach Don Laws

PR & S: What was the luckiest moment in your career?

Hamilton: The day I started skating. That was the first step towards surviving a mysterious childhood illness.

PR & S: What (if anything) did you have to sacrifice to achieve your goal?

Hamilton: 1. Spending time at home with my family. 2. College.

PR & S: What would you most like to be remembered for?

Hamilton: I don’t know if I want/need to be remembered. I would just like to know that whatever my gifts were to others were passed on.

PR & S: How do you give back to your community and the world?

Hamilton: I would like to help eradicate cancer in my lifetime or at least ease the suffering that goes with the treatment.

PR & S: How are you a source of inspiration for others?

Hamilton: I try to live and lead by example.

PR & S: What charitable organizations do you support?

Hamilton: My cancer organization CARES, St. Jude Children’s ResearchHospital, Special Olympics and more.

To learn more about the Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center, click here


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