The life of an athlete has its ups and downs. There’s money, endorsements, awards, and championships. But then, there are injuries that can bring you down. However, most athletes don’t expect to lose their lives while playing. Yordano Ventura was coming off a 2015 World Series Championship and was killed in a car crash just two years later.
An athlete’s passing can change things drastically, especially in the locker room. Stars passing in their prime isn’t too common, but it really brings people and a city together. Each death is a true tragedy and everyone is doing their part to remember the ones we lost.
Len Bias Died Two Days After He Was Drafted By The Boston Celtics
Photo Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images
One of the most dominant college basketball players at the time, the former Maryland star was on his way to greatness. But, two days after being drafted, Bias died from a cocaine overdose.
It’s hard to imagine what the team would have looked like with Bias on the court with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parrish.
Bill Barilko Disappeared In 1951, But Was Found In 1962
Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images
In 1951, Bill Barilko disappeared on a fishing trip. The last goal he scored was when he helped the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.
Eleven years later, a pilot discovered parts from Barilko’s crash. The incident would become a song “Fifty Mission Cap” by Canadian band The Tragically Hip.
Jose Fernandez Was On His Way To Becoming A Star In The Majors
Photo Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images
From 2013 to 2016, Jose Fernandez was an emerging star who was going to be one of the best pitchers in the game.
After having Tommy John Surgery, 2016 would be his last season. Fernandez and two others were killed in a boat crash two weeks before the end of the season. Years before Fernandez, one baseball player wanted to make a difference, but ended up in a plane crashed. The story behind Roberto Clemente is just ahead.
Andres Escobar Was Gunned Down After His World Cup Blunder
Photo Credit: Shaun Botterill/ALLSPORT/Getty Images
The Colombian scored on his own goal during the 1994 World Cup. The mistake would lead to a victory for the United States.
However, Escobar was hated for what he did, and just a few days after, he and some friends went out. He was shot and murdered because of a mistake on the pitch.
Pelle Lindbergh’s Blood Alcohol Level Was Double The Legal Limit
Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images
The former Flyers goalie was the NHL’s Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s best goalie. Shortly after winning the award, Lindbergh was killed in a single-car crash.
His blood alcohol level was more than double the legal limit at the time the accident had occurred.
Roberto Clemente’s Plane Crashed When Flying To Nicaragua
Photo Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images
When Nicaragua was hit by an Earthquake, Roberto Clemente felt compelled to act on it. So, he arranged to go there himself to provide relief for the people.
However, the plane never landed as it crashed on New Year’s Eve in 1972. Today, MLB awards the Roberto Clemente Award for a players contributions on-and-off the baseball field. A football player was a called a hero after turning down a contract to serve for the army. Find out who that hero was shortly.
Tim Richmond Suffered The Same Fate As Freddie Mercury
Photo Credit: ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images
Everyone knows about Dale Earnhardt, but not so much about Tim Richmond. He won 13 races over his career, but at the end of 1986, Richmond wasn’t feeling right.
As it turns out, he was eventually diagnosed with AIDS. He would have one more victory at the Budweiser 400 in 1987, but ultimately lost the battle in 1989.
Camille Muffat Was Competing On A Reality Show When The Helicopter Crashed
Photo Credit: Didier Baverel/WireImage/Getty Images
The French swimmer was a three-time Olympic medalist by the time she was 25-years-old. While participating on a reality show called Dropped, something bad happened.
The helicopter she was riding in colliding with another helicopter mid-air. Muffat crashed, along with nine other people competing on the show.
Pat Tillman Declined a $3.6 Million Contract To Join The Army
Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images
The safety would trade in the football cleats for the camouflage after 9/11. Tillman served in both Afghanistan and Iraq before he was killed in a friendly fire incident in 2004.
His bravery has become a cornerstone tale of heroism in America and the sports world as well. The next football player ahead didn’t join the army, but it was one of the most heartbreaking stories in the NFL. More on that later.
Sarah Burke Sustained Injuries After Her Crash
Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Canadian skier suffered so serious injuries while practicing. Unfortunately, she fell on her head and went into cardiac arrest moments after it happened.
She was a four-time Winter X Games medalist and won the world championship in the halfpipe in 2005.
ALS Forced Lou Gehrig To Retire
Photo Credit: Stanley Weston/Getty Images
One of the most iconic baseball players, Gehrig was suffering from ALS. It made sense when his performance on the field dissipated into nothing.
His infamous speech on July 4, 1939, is one of the most memorable moments in sports. Two years later, Gehrig died from the disease.
Sean Taylor’s Sudden Death Shocked The Football World
Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
There’s no doubt that Sean Taylor was one of the best safeties in his prime. His hit on Brian Moorman at the 2006 Pro Bowl was incredible, but his career was cut short a. year later.
Burglars entered Taylor’s home, with one of them shooting the ex-Redskin in the leg. He died from the shot, and the five people involved in his death were all convicted. One of the greatest Euroleague players is coming up. But once he found his game, it was too late.
Malik Sealy Was Killed After Leaving Kevin Garnett’s Birthday Party
Photo Credit: Bob Stowell/Getty Images
Selay was a strong swingman during his tenure in the NBA. Selay was celebrating then-teammate Kevin Garnett’s birthday, but tragedy would soon strike.
However, once he left the party, he was killed by a drunk driver who was on the wrong side of the road. When Garnett was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, he wore number 2 to honor his old teammate.
Andre The Giant Died In His Sleep
Photo Credit: Jeff Goode/Toronto Star via Getty Images
The famous wrestler passed away at 46-years-old. Andre died in his sleep in the winter of 1993.
Despite his passing, Andre is still recognized as one of the most iconic wrestlers of all-time. It’s no surprise why people referred to him as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Drazen Petrovic Was Finding His Game In The NBA Before It Was Too Late
Photo Credit: Dimitri Iundt/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
One of the greatest Euroleague players ever, Drazen Petrovic would take his talents to the NBA.
It took him a few years to find his game in the league, and he looked like he was on his way to stardom with the New Jersey Nets. Unfortunately, he was killed in a car crash shortly after the 1992-1993 season. What happened two months after Petrovic’s passing? The death of another Boston Celtic.
Darryl Kile Never Showed Up To Pregame Warmups
Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images
Personnel of the St. Louis Cardinals noted that Kile was absent before the game. Hotel staff were called upon to enter the pitcher’s room.
As soon as they came into the room, Kile was discovered under the covers of his bed. The 33-year-old’s death was ruled a heart attack.
Dan Snyder Was Killed By His Own Teammate
Photo Credit: Bennett Studios/Getty Images
Snyder wasn’t the most skilled hockey player, but he displayed great leadership wherever he went. In 2003, Snyder was killed in an accident, while being driven by teammate Dany Heatley.
After feeling horrible for what happened, Heatley requested to be traded and was dealt with the Ottawa Senators prior to the 2005-2006 NHL season.
Reggie Lewis Death Came Two Months After Petrovic’s
Photo Credit: Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Basketball fans were left with another tragedy. Just two months after Petrovic’s passing, Reggie Lewis passed away from a heart attack.
Lewis’ death left the Celtics without their biggest star. It was some big shoes to fill because he was the team’s leading scorer in the past two seasons while being named an All-Star in 1992.
Thurmon Munson Died Practicing Landing His Airplane
Photo Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images
The 1976 American League MVP was using his plane to see his family in Ohio. Unfortunately, Munson was killed while practicing his landings in 1979.
It’s one of the most tragic deaths in baseball history. Munson’s locker went untouched from the time of his death up until when the Yankees closed old Yankee Stadium for good.
Joe Delaney Tried To Save Three Children Before Drowning
Photo Credit: Dave Buresh/The Denver Post via Getty Images
The former Kansas City Chief was saving lives before his own was taken. One of the children were saved, another was rushed to the hospital, while the other one passed away.
Despite the fact that Delaney couldn’t swim, he still did everything in his power to try and save lives.