Lance Armstrong grew up in Collin County’s sprawling Dallas suburb of Plano. Born September 18, 1971, he became a world-famous cyclist and philanthropist, and may be the best-known athlete to come from the Upper East Side of Texas.
Armstrong’s story of overcoming cancer and rapid return to professional cycling inspired millions worldwide to overcome the disease. However, many fans felt betrayed after his public admission of using performance-enhancing drugs in 2013 which created controversy and backlash.
A 2020 documentary on ESPN’s 30 for 30 series titled Lance reviews Armstrong’s career, laying bare his desire to win at all costs, his conflicts with other cyclists, and the controversy surrounding his long-time denials of doping.
A Tour de France winner for seven consecutive years, from 1999 to 2005, judges stripped him of the titles in 2012 after reports surfaced that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong’s hometown is an upper middle-class suburb north of Dallas known for its competitive culture. He attended Plano East High School, where he competed on the cross country team and graduated in 1989.
After winning a nationwide amateur cycling race in 1991, Armstrong entered professional cycling and won his first title in 1993.
However, his career almost vanished at age 25 when doctors diagnosed him with advanced testicular cancer. The cancer metastasized throughout his body, threatening his life, but he fought hard to overcome it.
“I intend to beat this disease, and further I intend to ride again as a professional cyclist,” he told ESPN, when announcing the diagnosis in October 1996.
After a final round of chemotherapy in December, Armstrong returned to cycling, becoming a symbol of hope for millions worldwide.
In 1997, he established the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a nonprofit advocating for cancer patients and research. The organization changed its name to Livestrong in 2012. It has raised more than $500 million and offers help and hope to millions of people struggling to overcome cancer.
Armstrong achieved world renown when he won the Tour de France in 1999, just two years after overcoming the disease.
Widely considered the world’s most difficult and most prestigious cycling race, the annual Tour de France consists of a challenging series of time trials and racing stretches, sometimes through mountains, for 21 days in July.
Armstrong repeated the achievement of winning the Tour de France seven consecutive times, from 1999-2005, as part of the US Postal Service team and the Discovery Channel team.
Some former members of the Postal Service racing team came forward and admitted to doping during the Tour de France competitions in 2011 and 2012. With the new evidence, the US Anti-Doping Agency accused Armstrong of doping and trafficking drugs during his cycling career. Armstrong did not deny the allegations, which resulted in a loss of all seven Tour de France titles.
In a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs throughout his professional cycling career. He also said he owed many apologies.
“I'll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologize to people,” he said during the famous interview on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Armstrong and his family live in Austin, where he owns two businesses, a coffee bistro named Juan Pelota Café and a bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s. He also owns and stars on two podcasts that focus on extreme outdoor sports, The Move and The Forward, on WEDŪ, a company that promotes cycling and racing.
Though Armstrong is still remembered for lying about doping during his competitive years and the disgrace of being stripped of his professional racing titles, many still recognize his positive achievements.
His story continues to inspire those with cancer to beat the disease and his work motivates others to participate in the sport of cycling.
Although no longer associated with the foundation he started, Livestream credits Armstrong with its direction.
“Lance’s devotion to serving others whose lives are irrevocably changed by cancer, as his was, is indisputable," the organization states on their website. "Livestrong continues his legacy of advocating and fighting for those people who are affected by cancer.”