Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon People In Sports

Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

original ranker
126,511 views 88 items 16,532 votes 1,734 voters 47 followers 20reranks
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
  • 20 reranks
  • comments
  • </> embed
Rerank This List
View as a Ranked by
Rank
loading your
votes…
 
  Name
Score
  1. 1
    Up 761
    Down 120

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Bo Jackson

    1962 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 572
    Down 85
    1903 More
    99
  3. 3
    Up 503
    Down 88
    1934 More
    93
  4. 4
    Up 603
    Down 116
    1968 More
    92
    added by: Frostbite
  5. 5
    Up 547
    Down 117
    1976 More
    89
  6. 6
    Up 461
    Down 73
    1943 More
    88
  7. 7
    Up 371
    Down 79
    1935 More
    88
  8. 8
    Up 311
    Down 96
    1947 More
    84
  9. 9
    Up 321
    Down 77
    1943 More
    80
    added by: KirkSaw
  10. 10
    Up 227
    Down 73
    1921 More
    79
    added by: MadameLil
  11. 11
    Up 355
    Down 102
    1967 More
    77
  12. 12
    Up 308
    Down 87

    Dale Earnhardt

    75
    added by: wiabux
  13. 13
    Up 261
    Down 130
    1936 More
    74
    added by: KirkSaw
  14. 14
    Up 265
    Down 150
    1972 More
    74
    added by: Pallknowing1
  15. 15
    Up 315
    Down 114
    1963 More
    73
    added by: wiabux
  16. 16
    Up 231
    Down 97
    1957 More
    72
  17. 17
    Up 207
    Down 91
    1960 More
    72
    added by: BobBrooks
  18. 18
    Up 315
    Down 181
    1959 More
    71
  19. 19
    Up 209
    Down 93
    1967 More
    69
  20. 20
    Up 179
    Down 78
    1945 More
    68
    added by: DouglasShibut
  21. 21
    Up 182
    Down 63
    1939 More
    67
    added by: KirkSaw
  22. 22
    Up 112
    Down 80

    often listed
    Mark Fidrych

    1954 More
    64
    added by: KirkSaw
  23. 23
    Up 228
    Down 155
    1980 More
    64
  24. 24
    Up 187
    Down 74

    ranked low on reranks
    Sean Taylor

    1983 More
    64
    added by: Kenne_W
  25. 25
    Up 74
    Down 84

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Lyman Bostock

    1950 More
    62
    added by: bojanthebest
  26. 26
    Up 145
    Down 72
    1951 More
    62
    added by: KirkSaw
  27. 27
    Up 182
    Down 124
    1965 More
    61
  28. 28
    Up 133
    Down 77
    1965 More
    61
    added by: dsylvia
  29. 29
    Up 115
    Down 42
    1955 More
    61
    added by: willyboymcoy
  30. 30
    Up 53
    Down 7
    1887 More
    60
  31. 31
    Up 98
    Down 86

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Cam Neely

    1965 More
    58
    added by: KirkSaw
  32. 32
    Up 131
    Down 61
    56
    added by: Harry W
  33. 33
    Up 209
    Down 74

    ranked low on reranks
    Bobby Orr

    1948 More
    54
    added by: willyboymcoy
  34. 34
    Up 76
    Down 69
    1980 More
    51
    added by: bojanthebest
  35. 35
    Up 70
    Down 100

    controversial
    Ralph Sampson

    1960 More
    50
    added by: thething256
  36. 36
    Up 102
    Down 71

    ranked low on reranks
    Joe Theismann

    1949 More
    49
  37. 37
    Up 18
    Down 30

    ranked high on reranks
    Jerome Brown

    1965 More
    48
    added by: jerseyboy
  38. 38
    Up 64
    Down 51
    No image

    ranked low on reranks
    Adam Petty

    48
    added by: psytce2
  39. 39
    Up 68
    Down 75

    controversial
    Jerry West

    1938 More
    48
    added by: toycannon18
  40. 40
    Up 91
    Down 91

    controversial
    Brandon Roy

    1984 More
    47
    added by: PW Punk
  41. 41
    Up 19
    Down 47
    1951 More
    45
    added by: willyboymcoy
    1951
  42. 42
    Up 48
    Down 77
    1972 More
    45
    added by: PW Punk
  43. 43
    Up 5
    Down 5
    1964 More
    44
    added by: udontneedtoknowmyname
  44. 44
    Up 69
    Down 59
    1973 More
    44
    added by: Dave_7672
  45. 45
    Up 4
    Down 4
    1950 More
    44
    added by: udontneedtoknowmyname
  46. 46
    Up 4
    Down 4
    No image

    Tony Oliva

    44
    added by: themightyjobu
  47. 47
    Up 44
    Down 51

    controversial
    Pat LaFontaine

    1965 More
    43
    added by: willyboymcoy
  48. 48
    Up 20
    Down 20
    1965 More
    43
  49. 49
    Up 2
    Down 5
    1955 More
    42
    added by: udontneedtoknowmyname
  50. 50
    Up 78
    Down 68
    42
    added by: Foxcream
  51. +Add New Item

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

items 1 - 50 of 88

think you can do better?

Rerank This List
why?

got a blog or website?

embed this list
why?

    more popular lists