Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon People In Sports
0Ultimate List
by  * Power
Ranker
tags 19,350 votes 2,012 voters 203,214 views 76 items f p @

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.
  • 16 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
L The List
Z
B Comments
& Embed
G Options
2rerank list
  1. 1
    + 870
    - 139

    most listed age 53

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 655
    - 109

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

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 573
    - 104

    Died at 38 (1934-1972)

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 692
    - 132

    added by Frostbite age 47

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 632
    - 137

    Died at 28 (1976-2004)

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 527
    - 84

    age 72

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 417
    - 95
    ) open
  8. 8
    + 356
    - 110

    Died at 32 (1947-1979)

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 370
    - 96

    added by KirkSaw Died at 27 (1943-1970)

    ) open
  10. 10
    + 261
    - 87

    added by MadameLil Died at 72 (1921-1993)

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 296
    - 153

    added by KirkSaw age 79

    ) open
  12. 12
    + 397
    - 119

    Died at 33 (1967-2000)

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 306
    - 171

    often listed & added by Pallknowing1 age 43

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 362
    - 113

    ranked low on reranks & added by wiabux Dale Earnhardt

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 269
    - 111

    Died at 42 (1957-1999)

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 355
    - 138

    added by wiabux Died at 23 (1963-1986)

    ) open
  17. 17
    + 245
    - 106

    added by BobBrooks Died at 46 (1960-2006)

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 365
    - 206
    ) open
  19. 19
    + 239
    - 114

    Died at 23 (1967-1990)

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 136
    - 93

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

    ) open
  21. 21
    + 205
    - 95

    added by DouglasShibut Died at 45 (1945-1990)

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 91
    - 105

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

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 203
    - 75

    added by KirkSaw Died at 24 (1939-1963)

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 223
    - 89

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

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 257
    - 179

    age 35

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 161
    - 94

    added by dsylvia Died at 28 (1965-1993)

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 152
    - 55

    added by willyboymcoy age 60

    ) open
  28. 28
    + 165
    - 96

    added by KirkSaw Died at 24 (1951-1975)

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 204
    - 141
    ) open
  30. 30
    + 111
    - 105

    often listed & added by KirkSaw age 50

    ) open
  31. 31
    + 153
    - 76

    added by Harry W

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 87
    - 17

    Died at 64 (1887-1951)

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 238
    - 88

    ranked low on reranks & added by willyboymcoy age 67

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 130
    - 87
    ) open
  35. 35
    + 85
    - 88

    added by bojanthebest age 35

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 78
    - 68

    added by psytce2 Adam Petty

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 103
    - 106

    added by PW Punk age 31

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 87
    - 113

    added by thething256 age 55

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 83
    - 90

    added by toycannon18 age 77

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 79
    - 74

    added by Dave_7672 age 42

    ) open
  41. 41
    + 30
    - 64

    often listed & added by willyboymcoy age 64 1951

    ) open
  42. 42
    + 55
    - 93

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

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 58
    - 62

    added by willyboymcoy age 50

    ) open
  44. 44
    + 84
    - 81

    added by Foxcream

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 71
    - 62

    added by willyboymcoy Alan Kulwicki

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 33
    - 32
    ) open
  47. 47
    + 76
    - 93

    added by PW Punk age 34

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 26
    - 43

    added by Brandy Died at 60 (1944-2004)

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 71
    - 82

    added by KirkSaw age 68

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 19
    - 15

    added by themightyjobu Tony Oliva

    ) open
77 +

Something missing? Add it!

L List Options 2 Rerank List B Comments & Embed z Share Next List >

viewers of this list also saw...

more popular lists