Several famous baseball players, NFL athletes, and basketball stars have died much too young. Some of these sports stars that died young suffered from undiagnosed medical conditions, while others were killed in car accidents.
Who are some of the most famous professional athletes who died young? In January 2020, NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash with his teenage daughter and seven other people when he was just 41. Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players of all time and had retired from the game less than four years prior to his death.
On February 18, 2001, Dale Earnhardt died in the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. He is widely considered one of the best racers of all time having won seven Winston Cup Championships and several other honors. Other pro athletes that died young who appear on this list include Reggie Lewis, Steve Prefontaine, and Roberto Clemente.
How do you think these tragic deaths could have been prevented? Check out this list of professional athletes who died young below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.
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Legendary Yankees catcher Thurman Munson died at the age of 32 in 1979. He was practicing landing a plane when the aircraft crashed.Source
Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine died at the age of 24 after being involved in a 1975 car accident. He is often cited as igniting the running boom of the 1970s.
All-American college basketball star Len Bias died as the result of a cocaine overdose in 1986 at the age of 22. His death came just two days after he was drafted as the second overall pick by the Boston Celtics in the NBA draft.Source
Former football star Aaron Hernandez died on April 19, 2017 after committing suicide. He was 27.
Hernandez was a football standout while attending the University of Florida, where he and his teammates won the BCS National Championship. He was drafted into the NFL by the New England Patriots in 2010 playing at tight end, and had an impressive - albeit short - NFL career. Despite a promising start, Hernandez's personal life and legal troubles overshadowed him.
In 2007, he was arrested for fighting at an off-campus bar in Gainesville, FL. He was also accused of participating in a double shooting, but was never charged with the crime. In 2012, he was accused of killing two men in Boston, but was never formally charged. In 2013, he was accused of two separate shootings - one in Miami, and another in Boston. He was never charged in the Miami shooting, but was put on trial for the death of his friend Odin Lloyd in Boston. Two years later, Hernandez was found guilty of the 2013 killing of Lloyd. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In 2017, the trial for his 2012 shootings began. A jury found him not guilty and he was acquitted on all charges. But because of the first homicide charge, he was put back in prison. Less than a week later, he hung himself in his prison cell.