"I'm tired." "It's too late." "I'll do it tomorrow." Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. We all have used them. But at the end of the day, we know we have to out work our competition to be successful. And while we realize this, there are times where we just aren't motivated. To help give you an extra push, I've written a few short stories below about athletes and work ethic. These people are among the best to ever play their sport, and their work ethic is the reason why. Next time you're thinking about taking the day off, read one these short stories. I promise, you won't go back to bed.

1. Kobe Bryant

Kobe's professional trainer was fast asleep. Could you blame him? It was 3:30 am in the morning. All a sudden his phone starts ringing. It's Kobe. He must be in trouble, or in some kind of emergency. His trainer is freaking out, and nervously picks up the phone.

Kobe says that he's doing some conditioning work and could use his trainer's help. The trainer then proceeds to get ready and head over to the gym. He arrives around 4:30 am. What did he see? He saw Kobe by himself practicing. Drenched in sweat, it looked like he just jumped in a pool. It wasn't even 5am in the morning yet.

2. Wayne Gretzky

When Wayne Gretzky was a kid, he watched hockey like most players his age. What separated him was the way he watched each game. Whenever we would tune in, we would bring pencil and paper. As the game went on, he would trace the movement of the puck on the paper. So obsessed with learning how the puck moved, he wouldn't even look down. For hours he studied every movement the puck would make.

Years later, sports commentators time and time again have said how no player has ever been able to have a feel for the puck like Gretzky.

3. Michael Jordan

Jordan is one of the most competitive players we've ever seen in sports. There's literally no person who wants to win more than Michael Jordan. He loved to win so much that he would go to extreme lengths just to make sure he was never the loser. Jordan used to bet teammates that his bag would be the first to come out of baggage claim when they would travel. Chances of that happening are slim, so his teammates always took the bet. To guarantee that he was right, Jordan would seek out the people loading the bags beforehand and tell them to make sure his bag came out first. While his teammates always looked dumbfounded, Jordan just smiled. He never wants to lose in anything, and he rarely did.

Another example is when he lost in golf to Chuck Daly. This was supposedly a friendly golf tournament. How did he react? He knocked on Daly's door until he agreed to take Jordan on in a rematch. Jordan won.

4. Michael Jordan #2

Michael Jordan was known for practicing ridiculous hours everyday. Eventually this started to rub off on his teammates, making the Bulls one of the best NBA teams in history when Jordan was the leader. Before regular practice started, Jordan would practice at his house. Overtime, Scottie Pippen decided to join him. Pretty soon, most of the team followed suit. Through sheer work ethic and determination, Jordan recruited his entire team to work harder. The accomplishments of that team speak for itself.