Who is ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius?

Updated 5:39 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014

Story highlights

Oscar Pistorius was the first double amputee to compete at an able-bodied Olympics

He described the summer of 2012 as a "dream come true" after Paralympic gold

The South African had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old

He started playing sport at an early age and became a role model for people worldwide

He was the so-called “Fastest Man on No Legs,” and his inspiring story captured the imagination of the world at the London Olympics. Now, Pistorius is playing the lead role in a more tragic tale that began in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.

The Olympic and Paralympic sprinter is facing a maximum five-year prison sentence after he was found guilty of the negligent killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013. He claimed he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and was cleared of murder.

Despite a seven-month trial, much remains in question about what happened at his upmarket home in Pretoria, South Africa around 4 a.m. that Thursday morning, leaving stunned fans at a loss to explain how their hero could have fallen so far and so fast.

Speaking to CNN’s Robyn Curnow in the last few weeks before his sentencing, Pistorius told her that he was “not scared to go to jail.”

But it may prove to be the greatest challenge yet for a man who’s already overcome many difficulties.

Born with a congenital abnormality, Pistorius, 27, had both his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday, but through sheer determination carved out a career in world-class athletics.

In 2012, he became the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied runners at the London 2012 Olympics, adding to his fame as the “Blade Runner,” a reference to his carbon fiber prosthetic legs.

While he failed to win a medal, Pistorius’ presence on the track was hailed as a triumph over adversity and a victory over critics who claimed his blades gave him an unfair advantage over the able-bodied. He did take home medals from the Paralympic Games.

For many, he was an example of what could be achieved through a potent mix of determination, positivity and skill.

Who is Oscar Pistorius, really?

Soon after his arrest, the athlete’s image was pulled from billboards across South Africa. Sponsors suspended their deals as admirers questioned whether Pistorius’ sporting successes had perhaps obscured a more complex character off the track.

Was Pistorius violent? On the edge? In a story titled “The Fast Life of Oscar Pistorius” published in the New York Times, writer Michael Sokolove wrote: “Pistorius is, as well, blessed with an uncommon temperament – a fierce, even frenzied need to take on the world at maximum speed and with minimum caution.”

After the shooting, a police spokeswoman said there had been “previous incidents” at Pistorius’ home, including “allegations of a domestic nature,” but did not say what they had been.

Besides the five-year prison term for culpable homicide, the athlete was also given a three-year sentence, suspended for five years, on a weapons charge stemming from an incident in whi