Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon People In Sports
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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.

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  1. 1
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    most listed age 53

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  2. 2
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    the people's #1 Died at 38 (1903-1941)

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    Died at 38 (1934-1972)

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    added by Frostbite age 47

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    Died at 28 (1976-2004)

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    age 72

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    Died at 32 (1947-1979)

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    added by KirkSaw Died at 27 (1943-1970)

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    added by MadameLil Died at 72 (1921-1993)

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    Died at 33 (1967-2000)

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  12. 12
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    often listed & added by KirkSaw age 79

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  13. 13
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    added by wiabux Dale Earnhardt

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    added by Pallknowing1 age 43

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    added by wiabux Died at 23 (1963-1986)

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    added by BobBrooks Died at 46 (1960-2006)

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    Died at 23 (1967-1990)

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

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    added by DouglasShibut Died at 45 (1945-1990)

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  22. 22
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    often listed & added by bojanthebest Died at 28 (1950-1978)

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  23. 23
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    added by KirkSaw Died at 24 (1939-1963)

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    ranked low on reranks & added by Kenne_W Died at 24 (1983-2007)

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    age 35

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    added by KirkSaw Died at 24 (1951-1975)

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    often listed & added by KirkSaw age 50

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    ranked low on reranks & added by willyboymcoy age 67

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  32. 32
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    Died at 64 (1887-1951)

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    added by Dave_7672 age 42

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  41. 41
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    often listed & added by PW Punk Died at 34 (1972-2006)

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  42. 42
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    often listed & added by willyboymcoy age 64 1951

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    added by willyboymcoy age 50

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    added by Foxcream

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  46. 46
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    added by willyboymcoy Alan Kulwicki

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    added by Brandy Died at 60 (1944-2004)

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    added by themightyjobu Tony Oliva

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  50. 50
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    added by KirkSaw age 68

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