Gone too soon
Sports world has been rocked through the years by loss of young athletes
Fred Jeter | 2/7/2020, 6 a.m.
The tragic death of basketball icon Kobe Bryant stirs painful memories of other athletes who died much too young.
Here are a few to remember:
•Arthur Ashe Jr. (1943-1989): Native Richmonder was the only black man to win singles titles at Wimbledon and the Australian and U.S. opens. He was also the first African-American chosen for the U.S. Davis Cup team. He died at 49 of AIDS-related pneumonia.
• Gene Lipscomb, aka “Big Daddy” (1931-1963): Among the NFL’s first big African-American players at 290 pounds. He was a tackle on Baltimore’s 1958 and 1959 NFL championship teams. He died of an overdose at 31.
• Florence Griffith Joyner, “Flo- Jo” (1959-1998): Considered one of the fastest women of all time; won three sprint medals at the 1988 Olympics. She died of an epileptic seizure at 38.
• Ernie Davis, “Elmira Express” (1939-1963): The brilliant Syracuse run- ning back won the Heisman Trophy in 1961 and was the No. 1 NFL draft pick. He died of leukemia at 23.
• Reggie White (1961-2004): The 13-time NFL Pro Bowl tackle collected 198 career sacks (then an NFL record) and forced 33 fumbles. He died of cardiac arrhythmia at 43.
• Reggie Roby (1961-2005): One of a handful of black punters, he averaged 43 yards for 992 career kicks and was a three-time All-Pro. He died of a heart attack at 43.
• Manute Bol, “Dinka Dunker” (1962-2010): The 7-foot-7 native of South Sudan blocked 2,086 shots during his NBA career. He died of acute kidney failure.
• Len Bias (1963-1986): Consensus All-America basketball star at the Univer- sity of Maryland; second overall pick in the NBA by the Boston Celtics. He died of cardiac arrhythmia at 22.
• Hank Gathers (1967-1990): Loyola Marymount forward was one of only two men to ever lead the NCAA in scoring and rebounding. He died of a heart ailment at 23.
• Pete Maravich, “Pistol Pete” (1947- 1988): An all-time NCAA basketball scorer (3,667 points) and five-time NBA All-Star (24.2 average). He died of heart failure at 40.
• Bob Hayes, “Bullet Bob” (1942- 2002): Only man to win an Olympic individual medal (100 meters) and play on a Super Bowl championship team (Dallas Cowboys). He died of kidney failure at 59.
• Roberto Clemente, “The Great One” (1934-1972): This Hall of Famer was a 15-time All-Star with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He died at 38 in a plane crash while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
• Reggie Lewis (1965-1993): This NBA All-Star averaged 18 points for the Boston Celtics during his career. During an offseason training session, he suffered a cardio death at 27.
• Sean Taylor (1993-2007): A two- time All-Pro safety for Washington after an All-America career for Miami. He was shot and killed during a home invasion at 24.
• Tiaina Seau, “Junior” (1969-2012): The linebacker was a 12-time All-Pro for San Diego and considered the greatest Charger ever. He took his own life at 43.
• Jose Fernandez, “Nino” (1992- 2016): A Cuban defector, the pitcher won National League Rookie of the Year in 2013. He died in a pre-dawn boat crash off Miami.
• Steve McNair, “Air McNair” (1973- 2009): The Tennessee Titans’ quarterback was the NFL’s passing leader and MVP in 2003; Heisman finalist. He died in a shooting at 36.
• Andre Roussimoff, “Andre the Giant” (1946-1993): At 7-foot-4, 520 pounds, the Frenchman was a top draw on the pro wrestling circuit. He died of congestive heart failure at 46.
• Marshall Thundering Herd: The Marshall University team, returning from a football game at East Carolina University earlier in the day, crashed Nov. 14, 1970 A total of 75 people were killed, including 37 players, coaches, doctors, administrators and flight crew, along with 25 team boosters.
• Benny Paret, “The Kid” (1937- 1962): World welterweight boxing champ from Cuba died at 25 from injuries sustained in a bout with Emile Griffith on ABC’s Fight of the Week at Madison Square Garden.
• Corey Smith (1979-2009): Richmond native part of 2003 Super Bowl winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He died at 29 in a boat crash.