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.

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.