Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon People In Sports

Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

Originally By 30k votes 2.8k voters 216k views 148 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Only athletes whose career was cut short by injury or worse

This list of athletes whose careers ended too soon includes dozens of promising athletes who for one reason or another were forced to leave the sports they loved well before they should have. Their stories are often tragic and leave their family members, teammates, opponents and fans wondering what could have happened had their careers continued. Sadly, we'll never know the answer to that one as these athletes all left their respective sports prematurely.

Some of the greatest players to ever compete in sports like football, basketball, hockey and baseball were forced into retirement due to an injury. Even others were taken not only from professional sports but also from this life following a tragic incident which caused their death. Be it an injury or a complete loss of life, all of these athletes had plenty left to give but a catastrophic event changed all that.

For many of these players, retiring at the top of their game was their decision after repeated injuries made it difficult to compete at a top level. Legendary Boston Bruins hockey player Bobby Orr, NBA star Yao Ming and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Troy Aikman are just a few who fall into that category. Others suffered a one-time injury, sometimes on national television during a big game, that gave them no choice but to retire. Joe Theismann, a legendary National Football League quarterback, fell into that category following what is perhaps the most memorable hit in league history.

While those players retired and often remained in the sport in a broadcasting role, others were not so lucky. Sadly, this list also includes athletes who died suddenly during their professional athletic careers. Those stories are heartbreaking, such as the up-and-coming Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart who was killed by a drunk driver and NFL-player turned U.S. Army soldier Pat Tillman who was killed serving his country.

As hard as it is to find something positive from these career-ending tragedies, each of them have raised awareness about ways that incidents like this can be prevented in the future. I can't think of any better way to honor these fine athletes than making the world a brighter place.
List Photo: user uploaded image
Collection Photo:  YouTube
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  1. 1
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    most listed
    age 53

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    the people's #1
    Died at 38 (1903-1941)

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    added by Frostbite
    age 47

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    - 307


    Died at 38 (1934-1972)

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    Died at 28 (1976-2004)

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    age 72

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    age 80

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  8. 8
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    Died at 32 (1947-1979)

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  9. 9
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    added by KirkSaw
    Died at 27 (1943-1970)

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  10. 10
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    Died at 33 (1967-2000)

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  11. 11
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    added by wiabux

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  12. 12
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    added by wiabux
    Died at 23 (1963-1986)

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  13. 13
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    ranked low on reranks & added by slaft
    age 42

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  14. 14
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    added by MadameLil
    Died at 72 (1921-1993)

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  15. 15
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    added by Pallknowing1
    age 43

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    age 56

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    added by KirkSaw
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  18. 18
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    Died at 42 (1957-1999)

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  19. 19
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    added by BobBrooks
    Died at 46 (1960-2006)

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  20. 20
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    added by Kenne_W
    Died at 24 (1983-2007)

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  21. 21
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    Died at 23 (1967-1990)

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  22. 22
    + 232
    - 240

    added by DouglasShibut
    Died at 45 (1945-1990)

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  23. 23
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    age 35

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  24. 24
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    added by KirkSaw
    Died at 24 (1939-1963)

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  25. 25
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    added by willyboymcoy
    age 60

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  26. 26
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    ranked low on reranks & added by StephenOsgood
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    ranked low on reranks & added by willyboymcoy
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  28. 28
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    added by dsylvia
    Died at 28 (1965-1993)

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  29. 29
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    age 50

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  30. 30
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    - 117


    Died at 64 (1887-1951)

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  31. 31
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    often listed & added by KirkSaw
    Died at 55 (1954-2009)

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  32. 32
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    - 6

    ranked low on reranks & added by Andrea Pillerè
    age 51

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  33. 33
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    added by KirkSaw
    Died at 24 (1951-1975)

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    added by Harry W

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    often listed & added by bojanthebest
    Died at 28 (1950-1978)

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    - 178


    age 66

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  37. 37
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    - 135

    added by psytce2
    Died at 20 (1980-2000)

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    + 132
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    added by KirkSaw
    age 50

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  39. 39
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    - 20

    ranked low on reranks & added by slaft
    Died at 41 (1947-1988)

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  40. 40
    + 103
    - 153

    added by bojanthebest
    age 35

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  41. 41
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    - 164

    added by PW Punk
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    added by PW Punk
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  43. 43
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    added by udontneedtoknowmyname
    age 65

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  44. 44
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    - 90

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    age 50

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  45. 45
    + 86
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    added by willyboymcoy

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    + 104
    - 173

    added by thething256
    age 55

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  47. 47
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    age 50

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  48. 48
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    - 120

    added by Foxcream
    Died at 34 (1955-1989)

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  49. 49
    + 13
    - 9

    added by ColinBoddy
    age 46

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  50. 50
    + 102
    - 142

    added by toycannon18
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