Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon People In Sports
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16  reranks 18,289 votes 1,912 voters 182,001 views by  Power
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Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

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 is ranked by a combination of each item's votes & positioning in reranks
  • 16 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    Up 822
    Down 134

    most listed
    Bo Jackson

    1962 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 625
    Down 98

    the people's #1
    Lou Gehrig

    1903 More
    99
  3. 3
    Up 545
    Down 94
    1934 More
    93
  4. 4
    Up 662
    Down 123
    1968 More
    92
    added by: Frostbite
  5. 5
    Up 609
    Down 127
    1976 More
    89
  6. 6
    Up 503
    Down 81
    1943 More
    88
  7. 7
    Up 400
    Down 89
    1935 More
    87
  8. 8
    Up 339
    Down 103
    1947 More
    84
  9. 9
    Up 353
    Down 87
    1943 More
    82
    added by: KirkSaw
  10. 10
    Up 248
    Down 81
    1921 More
    79
    added by: MadameLil
  11. 11
    Up 285
    Down 143

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jim Brown

    1936 More
    73
    added by: KirkSaw
  12. 12
    Up 379
    Down 110

    ranked low on reranks
    Derrick Thomas

    1967 More
    72
  13. 13
    Up 293
    Down 163

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Terrell Davis

    1972 More
    72
    added by: Pallknowing1
  14. 14
    Up 348
    Down 104

    Dale Earnhardt

    72
    added by: wiabux
  15. 15
    Up 339
    Down 127
    1963 More
    70
    added by: wiabux
  16. 16
    Up 259
    Down 104
    1957 More
    70
  17. 17
    Up 235
    Down 97
    1960 More
    69
    added by: BobBrooks
  18. 18
    Up 352
    Down 196
    1959 More
    67
  19. 19
    Up 226
    Down 105
    1967 More
    66
  20. 20
    Up 127
    Down 85

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Mark Fidrych

    1954 More
    65
    added by: KirkSaw
  21. 21
    Up 195
    Down 87
    1945 More
    65
    added by: DouglasShibut
  22. 22
    Up 85
    Down 96

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Lyman Bostock

    1950 More
    63
    added by: bojanthebest
  23. 23
    Up 195
    Down 70
    1939 More
    62
    added by: KirkSaw
  24. 24
    Up 209
    Down 83

    ranked low on reranks
    Sean Taylor

    1983 More
    59
    added by: Kenne_W
  25. 25
    Up 249
    Down 169
    1980 More
    59
  26. 26
    Up 151
    Down 85
    1965 More
    58
    added by: dsylvia
  27. 27
    Up 137
    Down 51
    1955 More
    57
    added by: willyboymcoy
  28. 28
    Up 159
    Down 85
    1951 More
    56
    added by: KirkSaw
  29. 29
    Up 196
    Down 134
    1965 More
    55
  30. 30
    Up 106
    Down 96

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Cam Neely

    1965 More
    54
    added by: KirkSaw
  31. 31
    Up 145
    Down 68
    52
    added by: Harry W
  32. 32
    Up 227
    Down 81

    ranked low on reranks
    Bobby Orr

    1948 More
    52
    added by: willyboymcoy
  33. 33
    Up 75
    Down 12
    1887 More
    52
  34. 34
    Up 123
    Down 80
    1949 More
    46
  35. 35
    Up 76
    Down 59

    Adam Petty

    46
    added by: psytce2
  36. 36
    Up 81
    Down 79
    1980 More
    46
    added by: bojanthebest
  37. 37
    Up 98
    Down 100
    1984 More
    45
    added by: PW Punk
  38. 38
    Up 81
    Down 109
    1960 More
    44
    added by: thething256
  39. 39
    Up 78
    Down 84
    1938 More
    43
    added by: toycannon18
  40. 40
    Up 78
    Down 67
    1973 More
    43
    added by: Dave_7672
  41. 41
    Up 69
    Down 55

    Alan Kulwicki

    42
    added by: willyboymcoy
  42. 42
    Up 53
    Down 86

    often listed
    Cory Lidle

    1972 More
    42
    added by: PW Punk
  43. 43
    Up 81
    Down 76
    42
    added by: Foxcream
  44. 44
    Up 55
    Down 57
    1965 More
    42
    added by: willyboymcoy
  45. 45
    Up 25
    Down 58

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Bert Jones

    1951 More
    41
    added by: willyboymcoy
    1951
  46. 46
    Up 29
    Down 28
    1965 More
    41
  47. 47
    Up 73
    Down 88
    1981 More
    40
    added by: PW Punk
  48. 48
    Up 68
    Down 75
    1947 More
    40
    added by: KirkSaw
  49. 49
    Up 23
    Down 38
    1944 More
    40
    added by: Brandy
  50. 50
    Up 53
    Down 44
    1957 More
    39
    added by: willyboymcoy
  51. 80 +

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