Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon People In Sports

Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

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180,888 views 79 items 18,242 votes 1,907 voters 50 followers 16reranks
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 Criteria: Only athletes whose career was cut short by injury or worse

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    1. 1
      Up 819
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      most listed
      Bo Jackson

      1962 More
      100
    2. 2
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      the people's #1
      Lou Gehrig

      1903 More
      99
    3. 3
      Up 544
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      1934 More
      93
    4. 4
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      1968 More
      92
      added by: Frostbite
    5. 5
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      1976 More
      90
    6. 6
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      Down 81
      1943 More
      88
    7. 7
      Up 399
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      1935 More
      87
    8. 8
      Up 339
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      1947 More
      84
    9. 9
      Up 352
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      1943 More
      82
      added by: KirkSaw
    10. 10
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      1921 More
      78
      added by: MadameLil
    11. 11
      Up 377
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      1967 More
      76
    12. 12
      Up 348
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      Dale Earnhardt

      76
      added by: wiabux
    13. 13
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      1936 More
      74
      added by: KirkSaw
    14. 14
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      1963 More
      73
      added by: wiabux
    15. 15
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      1972 More
      73
      added by: Pallknowing1
    16. 16
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      1957 More
      72
    17. 17
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      1960 More
      71
      added by: BobBrooks
    18. 18
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      1959 More
      70
    19. 19
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      1967 More
      70
    20. 20
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      1945 More
      68
      added by: DouglasShibut
    21. 21
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      often listed
      Mark Fidrych

      1954 More
      66
      added by: KirkSaw
    22. 22
      Up 195
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      1939 More
      65
      added by: KirkSaw
    23. 23
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      1983 More
      64
      added by: Kenne_W
    24. 24
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      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Lyman Bostock

      1950 More
      64
      added by: bojanthebest
    25. 25
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      1980 More
      63
    26. 26
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      1965 More
      62
      added by: dsylvia
    27. 27
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      1955 More
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      added by: willyboymcoy
    28. 28
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      1887 More
      61
    29. 29
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      1951 More
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      added by: KirkSaw
    30. 30
      Up 195
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      1965 More
      60
    31. 31
      Up 106
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      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Cam Neely

      1965 More
      58
      added by: KirkSaw
    32. 32
      Up 145
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      56
      added by: Harry W
    33. 33
      Up 227
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      ranked low on reranks
      Bobby Orr

      1948 More
      53
      added by: willyboymcoy
    34. 34
      Up 81
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      1980 More
      50
      added by: bojanthebest
    35. 35
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      1949 More
      50
    36. 36
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      Adam Petty

      49
      added by: psytce2
    37. 37
      Up 77
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      1938 More
      48
      added by: toycannon18
    38. 38
      Up 23
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      Jerome Brown

      1965 More
      48
      added by: jerseyboy
    39. 39
      Up 79
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      1960 More
      47
      added by: thething256
    40. 40
      Up 98
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      ranked low on reranks
      Brandon Roy

      1984 More
      47
      added by: PW Punk
    41. 41
      Up 25
      Down 58

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Bert Jones

      1951 More
      45
      added by: willyboymcoy
      1951
    42. 42
      Up 53
      Down 86
      1972 More
      45
      added by: PW Punk
    43. 43
      Up 77
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      ranked low on reranks
      Eric Lindros

      1973 More
      44
      added by: Dave_7672
    44. 44
      Up 12
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      1950 More
      44
      added by: udontneedtoknowmyname
    45. 45
      Up 55
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      1965 More
      44
      added by: willyboymcoy
    46. 46
      Up 12
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      Tony Oliva

      44
      added by: themightyjobu
    47. 47
      Up 29
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      1965 More
      43
    48. 48
      Up 28
      Down 61

      ranked high on reranks
      Steve Olin

      1965 More
      42
      added by: robboling
    49. 49
      Up 9
      Down 15
      1955 More
      42
      added by: udontneedtoknowmyname
    50. 50
      Up 81
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      42
      added by: Foxcream
    51. 80 +

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