Ian Mackay was paralyzed 14 years ago in a bike accident, leaving the active 26-year-old with the physical abilities of an infant. Today, he’s traversing hundreds of miles in an Invacare TDX SP2. For Sports Illustrated, Joseph Bien-Kahn tells Mackay’s inspiring story and offers an account of his latest challenge: breaking a world record for the greatest distance covered in 24 hours by a motorized wheelchair.
The latest in SI‘s “Where Are They Now?” series covers longtime staffer Smith, arguably one of the finest profilers the journalism world has ever known. His portraits of Mike Tyson, Andre Agassi, and other icons cut through the insularity of sports fandom to become the stuff of magazine legend. Now, Joseph Bien-Kahn heads to South Carolina to catch up with the man who famously took half the pay to go twice as deep — and then walked away from it all.
As I spoke to Smith and to his contemporaries, I felt myself searching desperately for Smith’s own demon within—the unseen bit of Gary Smith that had spurred him from the best job in the industry. When I asked Reilly, he said I was chasing a ghost. “We all were supposed to constantly hunger to get bigger and richer and more famous. He never had it,” Reilly says. “I was not surprised at all that he just kind of hung a Do Not Disturb sign on his life and started teaching people to be Zen and playing guitar and traveling.”