Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon People In Sports

Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

original ranker
119,737 views 90 items 16,245 votes 1,709 voters 46 followers 19reranks
Athletes whose careers ended too soon include 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

< >
  • the crowd
  • 19 reranks
  • comments
  • </> embed
Rerank This List
View as a Ranked by
Rank
loading your
votes…
 
  Name
Score
  1. 37
    Up 63
    Down 50
    No image

    ranked low on reranks
    Adam Petty

    49
    added by: psytce2
  2. 68
    Up 2
    Down 3
    No image

    Alan Ameche

    36
    added by: themightyjobu
  3. 45
    Up 65
    Down 49

    ranked low on reranks
    Alan Kulwicki

    42
    added by: willyboymcoy
  4. 64
    Up 2
    Down 2
    1957 More
    36
    added by: charlieup2
  5. 65
    Up 2
    Down 2
    No image

    Barry Ashbee

    36
    added by: themightyjobu
  6. 4
    Up 594
    Down 114

    ranked low on reranks
    Barry Sanders

    1968 More
    92
    added by: Frostbite
  7. 41
    Up 19
    Down 45

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Bert Jones

    1951 More
    46
    added by: willyboymcoy
    1951
  8. 1
    Up 750
    Down 118

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Bo Jackson

    1962 More
    100
  9. 51
    Up 82
    Down 77

    ranked low on reranks
    Bobby Hurley

    1971 More
    38
    added by: PW Punk
  10. 33
    Up 209
    Down 71

    ranked low on reranks
    Bobby Orr

    1948 More
    54
    added by: willyboymcoy
  11. 40
    Up 91
    Down 88

    ranked low on reranks
    Brandon Roy

    1984 More
    48
    added by: PW Punk
  12. 9
    Up 315
    Down 76
    1943 More
    79
    added by: KirkSaw
  13. 69
    Up 2
    Down 3
    No image

    Bruce Gamble

    36
    added by: themightyjobu
  14. 82
    Up 22
    Down 43

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Bryan Berard

    1977 More
    35
    added by: KirkSaw
  15. 32
    Up 97
    Down 85

    controversial
    Cam Neely

    1965 More
    56
    added by: KirkSaw
  16. 50
    Up 18
    Down 19

    ranked high on reranks
    Chris Spielman

    1965 More
    38
  17. 42
    Up 48
    Down 75

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Cory Lidle

    1972 More
    45
    added by: PW Punk
  18. 11
    Up 302
    Down 83

    Dale Earnhardt

    76
    added by: wiabux
  19. 52
    Up 45
    Down 36
    1951 More
    38
  20. 74
    Up 47
    Down 65
    1977 More
    35
  21. 31
    Up 129
    Down 60

    ranked low on reranks
    Davey Allison

    56
    added by: Harry W
  22. 12
    Up 348
    Down 99
    1967 More
    76
  23. 60
    Up 3
    Down 2
    No image

    Dizzy Dean

    36
    added by: themightyjobu
  24. 59
    Up 6
    Down 5
    1961 More
    36
    added by: udontneedtoknowmyname
  25. 67
    Up 2
    Down 2
    No image

    Don Wilson

    36
    added by: themightyjobu
  26. 81
    Up 1
    Down 4
    1955 More
    35
    added by: udontneedtoknowmyname
  27. 61
    Up 4
    Down 3
    1964 More
    36
    added by: udontneedtoknowmyname
  28. 30
    Up 110
    Down 41

    ranked low on reranks
    Earl Campbell

    1955 More
    59
    added by: willyboymcoy
  29. 54
    Up 67
    Down 58

    ranked low on reranks
    Eric Lindros

    1973 More
    37
    added by: Dave_7672
  30. 22
    Up 181
    Down 63

    ranked low on reranks
    Ernie Davis

    1939 More
    65
    added by: KirkSaw
  31. 73
    Up 7
    Down 2
    No image

    ranked low on reranks
    Fireball Roberts

    35
    added by: RodneyShifflett
    nascar racer died in fiery crash in his prime. 
  32. 6
    Up 454
    Down 72
    1943 More
    88
  33. 86
    Up 20
    Down 44

    ranked high on reranks
    Gord Kluzak

    1964 More
    34
    added by: KirkSaw
  34. 20
    Up 202
    Down 92
    1967 More
    68
  35. 76
    Up 1
    Down 3
    No image

    Henry Boucha

    35
    added by: themightyjobu
  36. 63
    Up 3
    Down 3
    1950 More
    36
    added by: udontneedtoknowmyname
  37. 48
    Up 45
    Down 65

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jamal Anderson

    1972 More
    41
    added by: Pallknowing1
  38. 85
    Up 14
    Down 16

    ranked low on reranks
    Jason Leffler

    34
    added by: gamedemon24
  39. 46
    Up 71
    Down 83

    ranked low on reranks
    Jay Williams

    1981 More
    42
    added by: PW Punk
  40. 38
    Up 17
    Down 28

    ranked high on reranks
    Jerome Brown

    1965 More
    48
    added by: jerseyboy
  41. 39
    Up 67
    Down 73

    controversial
    Jerry West

    1938 More
    48
    added by: toycannon18
  42. 71
    Up 2
    Down 3
    No image

    Jim Bouton

    36
    added by: themightyjobu
  43. 13
    Up 254
    Down 128

    often listed
    Jim Brown

    1936 More
    75
    added by: KirkSaw
  44. 55
    Up 40
    Down 61

    often listed
    Joe Delaney

    1958 More
    37
    added by: KirkSaw
  45. 36
    Up 100
    Down 69

    ranked low on reranks
    Joe Theismann

    1949 More
    50
  46. 80
    Up 1
    Down 4
    No image

    Karl Kassulke

    35
    added by: themightyjobu
  47. 57
    Up 50
    Down 40

    ranked low on reranks
    Kellen Winslow

    1957 More
    37
    added by: willyboymcoy
  48. 15
    Up 205
    Down 88

    ranked low on reranks
    Kirby Puckett

    1960 More
    73
    added by: BobBrooks
  49. 72
    Up 5
    Down 7
    1971 More
    35
    added by: udontneedtoknowmyname
  50. 58
    Up 13
    Down 12
    1956 More
    36
    added by: StephenOsgood
  51. +Add New Item

Is this list missing something?
RANKERS WHO ADDED ITEMS + 21 MORE

items 1 - 50 of 90

think you can do better?

rerank this list
why?

got a blog or website?

embed this list
why?

    more popular lists