Those anticipating Joe Biden to withdraw quietly from the US presidential contest without a struggle might not have fully grasped the life of a man who is both proud and frequently obstinate. From schoolyard brawls to devastating personal tragedies and numerous attempts at the White House, Biden has viewed his life as a succession of comebacks against insurmountable challenges. As a Democratic uprising following his lackluster debate performance against Donald Trump seems to be fading for now, the 81-year-old appears resolute in his quest to triumph in the battle of his political career. Unless a significant change occurs, it will likely be up to American voters to determine whether Biden orchestrates another remarkable comeback or whether overconfidence leads him and his party to a historic loss to Trump.

Biden has consistently revisited the narrative of himself as a fighter since the debate, echoing his family's adage that "when you get knocked down, you get back up." "What we've witnessed over the past 10 to 12 days is undoubtedly central to the Joe Biden narrative," stated his spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre at the White House podium on Tuesday. "He has been dismissed numerous times in his career. People often knock him down, and you hear him say he gets back up." This is the tale of him standing up for himself, standing up for millions of Americans.

This perspective was shaped by a challenging childhood in the American rust-belt, as part of a tightly-knit Irish Catholic family renowned for their fierce pride. His mother Jean instilled in young Joey and his siblings daily that "nobody was better than a Biden," as Ben Cramer recounted in his book "What It Takes," about the 1988 US election campaign. He was also known for never retreating.

One notable struggle Biden faced was a childhood stutter. Repeatedly embarrassed at school, the young Biden ultimately taught himself to speak fluently through sheer willpower, practicing phrases repeatedly in front of a mirror. However, Biden's most significant trial was yet to come. In 1972, at just 29 and newly elected as a senator for Delaware, his wife Neilia and their one-year-old daughter Naomi were tragically killed in a car accident, while their young sons Beau and Hunter were severely injured. Tragedy struck again in 2015 when Beau passed away from brain cancer at the age of 46. Biden also had to cope with the anguish of Hunter's severe drug addiction and legal issues.

With his family by his side, Biden has weathered a series of political setbacks. In 1988, he was compelled to withdraw from his first presidential campaign following a plagiarism scandal. His subsequent attempt in 2008 ended in a significant defeat in the Democratic primaries, before Barack Obama selected him as his running mate. Yet, in the current crisis surrounding Biden's age and health, the very traits that have previously fortified Biden could potentially lead to his downfall. It is widely known that he only truly listens to family members and a handful of long-time aides, but as he ages, this circle has become increasingly isolated. His long-held belief that he has been underestimated and ridiculed by the media makes him even less likely to heed external voices. Furthermore, Biden's lifelong image of always rebounding means he may struggle to envision a dignified exit this time.

Franklin Foer, author of a book on the early Biden presidency, recently wrote in The Atlantic magazine that "humiliation -- and its transcendence -- is Biden's origin story." "Right now, it is his psychological prison, a mental habit that might doom American democracy."