Athletes Who Died In 2023

The following article includes references to mental health issues, substance abuse, and domestic assault.

While they often seem larger than life and untouchable, athletes of all ages from around the world sometimes leave us unexpectedly. Though saddened, fans feel their positive impact on sports history for a long time. From Greg Foster's Olympic medal-winning feat in track and field to Charles White's prowess on the football field, these athletes and others are remembered for changing the way fans viewed — and enjoyed — the game.

In 2023, Foster, White, Chris Ford, Kyle Smaine (pictured above), and numerous others passed away. Whether they dominated on the court, took home medals in the Olympics, or participated in any of hundreds of professional athletic competitions, the players here will not be forgotten. 

These are the talented athletes the world has lost in 2023.

Updated August 24, 2023.

Ken Block

Ken Block wasn't the type of guy who could sit behind a desk for long. A decade after co-founding DC Shoes in 1994, Block sold his share in the skater apparel company, and in 2005, he began his National rallying career as a member of the Vermont Sports Car Team. Per ESPN, Block was a five-time X Games medalist in RallyCross within five years of first driving a rally car.

Block's interests aligned with racing as a professional but also as a businessman. He co-owned Hoonigan Industries, an auto enthusiast brand. Block served as the Head Hoonigan In Charge, and while he was incredibly successful in the apparel industry, his true passions were competition and sports. In addition to rallying, he was an avid snowboarding, motocross, and skateboarding enthusiast. Sadly, his love of snowmobiling ultimately cost him his life. On January 2, 2023, Block was in an accident while riding a snowmobile in Utah.

According to the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office, Block's snowmobile upended and landed on top of him on a steep hill — the 55-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. A now-deleted Instagram post from Hoonigan Industries read, "It's with our deepest regrets that we can confirm that Ken Block passed away in a snowmobile accident today. Ken was a visionary, a pioneer, and an icon. And most importantly, a father and husband. He will be incredibly missed."

Rosi Mittermaier

Rosi Mittermaier began her athletic career quite young, thanks to her father's business of ski instructing. Mittermaier trained with her father when she was three, skiing in the Bavarian village of Reit im Winkl. Mittermaier became an international competitive skier at the age of 17 by making her World Cup debut. She didn't win, but she made it to the podium the following year. A year after that, she won in the 1969 World Cup slalom event.

Mittermaier competed at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, taking home two gold medals for downhill and slalom, earning her the nickname she would keep throughout her life: Gold-Rosi. She also nabbed a silver medal that year for giant slalom. Mittermaier's skiing career took her all over the world, and she competed in three Olympics, five World Championships, and won 10 World Cups, making it to the podium a total of 41 times. After retiring from the sport, Mittermaier dabbled in clothing design, writing, and philanthropy — she even recorded albums with her sister, Evi

When the 72-year-old died, her loved ones issued a statement, saying, "We as a family announce the sad news that our beloved wife, mom, and grandma passed away peacefully on January 4th, 2023 after a serious illness surrounded by the family." Thomas Bach, International Olympic Committee president, said in a statement (via the AP): "Rosi Mittermaier was a very charming and credible ambassador of sport, who always approached people openly and in a humble way. She inspired all of us with her warmth and her smile."

Nate Colbert Jr.

Nate Colbert Jr. began his professional baseball career in 1964, signing with the St. Louis Cardinals shortly after graduating high school. Colbert declined offers from 16 MLB teams and 30 college scholarships to play for his home team, the player told the Los Angeles Times. After the 1965 season, the Houston Astros drafted out Colbert, so he never actually played for the Cardinals. In 1968, the San Diego Padres picked up Colbert's contract in the expansion draft, making him one of the team's inaugural players.

Colbert was one of the Padres' standout players, and on August 1, 1972, he played his best game. Colbert hit five home runs in a single game, accomplishing something his idol, Stan Musial, did on May 2, 1954. Colbert was in the stands during Musial's moment in sports history, so emulating it was a career highlight. Colbert would go on to become the Padres' all-time home run leader, with 173 in his career with the team. Colbert played 1,004 games through ten MLB seasons before retiring due to a chronic vertebral issue.

He then worked as a hitting instructor and coach for the Padres and its minor league affiliate team, the Wichita Pilots, and he became an ordained minister. Colbert died on January 5, 2023, at the age of 76. The Padres announced his passing and celebrated his achievements, tweeting in a statement from chairman Peter Seidler, "Nate was devoted to his community off the field as well, dedicating his time to disadvantaged youth through his ministry. He was a magnetic person who will be dearly missed."

Gianluca Vialli

Italian football star Gianluca Vialli began his career playing for Italy's Serie C1 club Cremonese in 1980. His skills on the field elevated him to Serie B, and he was promoted to the Serie A Sampdoria FC in 1984 and reportedly scored 10 goals as a winger in the '83-'84 season. Vialli was the league's top scorer before long, and he helped the team win numerous international championships. In 1992, Vialli joined Juventus FC, where he dominated for several seasons, amassing 38 goals with the team.

Vialli joined Chelsea in 1996, and the team won the FA Cup that season. He continued playing until retiring at the end of the '98-'99 season. After hanging up his cleats, Vialli worked as the player-manager for Chelsea, and he helped lead the team to victory at multiple international competitions. He was let go from the club and became the manager of the First Division club Watford. Following this, he became Italy's delegation chief but had to step away in late 2022 because of his pancreatic cancer, CNN reported.

Vialli said in a statement, "At the end of a long and difficult negotiation with my wonderful team of oncologists, I have decided to suspend, hopefully temporarily, my present and future professional commitments." Sadly, Vialli's treatment didn't ultimately save him, and he died on January 6, 2023, at the age of 58. Chelsea FC tweeted upon the news of his death, "You'll be missed by so many. A legend to us and to all of football. Rest in peace, Gianluca Vialli."

Hunter Brown

Hunter Brown was a standout football player in high school, and after completing his time at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School, he attended the U.S. Air Force Academy. While in class, Brown pursued a degree in management with a minor in French, but he spent much of his time on the field playing for the Air Force Falcons, the USAFA NCAA Division I football team. 

Brown and his teammates managed two back-to-back winning seasons in 2021 and 2022. At some point during a practice, Brown sustained an injury that resulted in his death a few weeks later. On January 9, 2023, the student was on his way to class when he had an unspecified emergency. First responders arrived on the scene and attempted life-saving measures, but Brown died at the age of 21.

According to a doctor's opinion on the autopsy obtained by KKTV 11 News, "...[Brown] died as a result of pulmonary thromboembolism due to deep vein thrombosis resulting from Lisfranc injury of the left lower extremity. The overall findings are consistent with this being an accidental death originating from an injury sustained during football practice several weeks prior to death." The athlete's loss was clearly felt by his community. Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, academy superintendent, said in a statement: "Hunter was a standout offensive lineman on the Falcon football team and was well-respected in his squadron. The entire U.S. Air Force Academy mourns his loss, and our hearts and condolences are with his family, his squadron, and all who were touched by this incredible young man."

Jorge Ballesteros

Jorge Ballesteros came from a family of impressive practical shooters (IPSC), including his father. When he was 18, he began competing in shooting competitions, and before long, he was winning them. In 2013, Ballesteros became the European champion in Barcelos, Portugal. He won the world title in 2017, which he would keep for five years.

Ballesteros also earned three gold medals at the IPSC European Handgun Championship and was a frequent medalist at world events. Ballesteros was a four-time Eurasia Extreme Champion, an Olympic medal winner, and he was named a Shooting Master by the Spanish Olympic Shooting Federation. When he wasn't winning medals and earning high praise for his shooting skills, Ballesteros worked as a police officer.

On January 10, 2023, Ballesteros was found inside his car with a gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to a nearby hospital and died the following day at the age of 39. His death was announced by the Royal Spanish Olympic Shooting Federation, which tweeted, "Jorge Ballesteros, the best Spanish sportsman of IPSC in history, died at 39 years old." The president of the RFEDETO described Ballesteros as "a great athlete" and an "exceptional human being." The nature of his gunshot wound and the manner of the shooting have not been made public.

Charles White

Charles White played football in high school, and when he made it to the University of Southern California, he joined the USC Trojans. White quickly distinguished himself as an outstanding running back, and in 1979, he received the coveted Heisman Trophy and several other awards. After his college career, he was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1980 NFL Draft and played for the team for several years. Sports Illustrated reported that White entered drug rehab and drug counseling during this time. Though the outlet notes that he had been sober for three years, White ultimately was released from his contract in 1985, and he would later relapse.

After leaving the Browns, White was picked up by the Los Angeles Rams, and his skills on the gridiron earned him the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. White retired from playing in 1988 and returned to USC to work in administrative roles and as the running backs coach. White remained with the organization for years. As he got older, he required professional care due to traumatic brain injury, connected to dementia.

White struggled with his day-to-day life but never forgot his football career, telling the Los Angeles Times in 2022, "I know I once did something good, something great, something fantastic for USC. ... I know it's great because I did it." The three-time Rose Bowl champion added, "Everything I did in football, it was all USC." On January 11, 2023, White died of esophageal cancer at 64.

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Robbie Knievel

Robbie Knievel didn't take long to follow in his father's footsteps, and by the age of four, he was already making small jumps on his bicycle. He traded out his bike for something better, and when he was seven, he began riding motorcycles. When Knievel was eight, he performed at Madison Square Garden; he continued touring with his dad, performing in pre-shows to rouse the crowd. When he was old enough, he launched a solo career and emulated many of his father's most famous jumps.

Knievel's career played out much like his famous father's, though he primarily rode motocross bikes, whereas his dad preferred motorcycles. Throughout his career, Knievel accomplished several high-profile and record-breaking jumps, including a truly death-defying leap across the Grand Canyon in 1999; hopping from one floating barge to the next in 2006; and in 2008, jumping over 24 Coke Zero trucks at the amusement park Kings Island. Knievel's career included an impressive 20 world records and 350 jumps, per his website.

Knievel was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He underwent treatment but died from the disease on January 13, 2023, at the age of 60. While it's unclear how long he underwent treatment, a supposed family source told TMZ that Knievel was in hospice care for the last few days of his life, and that he died with his daughters, Krysten, Karmen, and Maria, at his side.

Gino Odjick

Gino Odjick got into hockey at an early age, and when he was 11, he joined a Pee-Wee team. Odjick continued playing on various teams in and around his native Maniwaki, Quebec. As a teenager, he joined Ontario's Hawkesbury Hawks. He picked up the nickname "the Algonquin Assassin," referencing his First Nation heritage and upbringing on the Kitigan Zibi reserve, as well as his strength as a fighter. He would keep this name throughout most of his career, though he was also known as the "Maniwaki Mauler."

Odjick was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, though he would play his first 17 games with the Canucks' minor league affiliate team, the Milwaukee Admirals, before landing a full-time slot with the Canucks. Odjick was a beloved enforcer, wasting no time throwing down his gloves to help a fellow teammate. He racked up hundreds of penalty minutes with Vancouver, and by the time he retired in 2002, he'd played for the New York Islanders, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Montreal Canadiens.

In 2014, Odjick was diagnosed with AL amyloidosis, a blood disorder that hardens the heart with protein deposits over time. The condition is severe, and he was only diagnosed following a heart attack. At the time, Odjick explained to Global News, "They told me to get ready for my demise and do my will. It didn't look too good there for a while." While he initially recovered from the disease, his amyloidosis returned in 2020. Odjick reportedly had another heart attack, which resulted in his January 15, 2023, death at the age of 52. Odjick's grandson, great-nephew, and former teammate paid tribute to him in a 2023 Canucks' pre-game ceremony.

Jay Briscoe

Jay Briscoe first entered the ring with his professional debut when he was 16. He primarily wrestled in tag team matches alongside his brother Mark Briscoe, and the two became known as the Briscoe Brothers. They continued wrestling for Combat Zone Wrestling for most of the early 2000s. They simultaneously wrestled for Jersey All-Pro Wrestling and found considerable fame with Ring of Honor, including the organization's first show, "The Era of Honor Begins," in 2002.

In 2004, Mark was in a motorcycle accident, so Jay decided to pause his career during his sibling's recovery. He and Mark returned in full force, and the Briscoe Brothers wrestled for more than 22 years together. They're regarded as one of the all-time best tag teams in professional wrestling history. They were inducted into the Ring of Honor Hall of Fame's inaugural class, making Jay and Mark the first inductees in the organization. Unfortunately, Jay wrote a violent homophobic tweet in 2013. He apologized for his behavior more than once, and the brothers discussed it in 2022 on "Battleground Podcast."

On January 17, 2023, Jay was killed in a car accident. ROH president Tony Khan broke the news on Twitter, posting, "Sadly, Jamin Pugh has passed away. Known to fans as Jay Briscoe, he was a star in ROH for over 20 years, from the first show until today. Jay and his brother Mark dominated ROH, reigning as champions to this day. We'll do whatever we can to support his family. Rest In Peace, Jamin." Thankfully, Mark wasn't in the car during the accident and continues to wrestle, now with All Elite Wrestling (as well as ROH).

Chris Ford

Chris "the Mad Bomber" Ford was probably best known for his coaching, but he had a prestigious career as a shooting guard for a decade. He was chosen by the Detroit Pistons in the 1972 NBA Draft and continued playing with the team until the 1978 season, when he was traded to the Boston Celtics. He was the first player to score a three-point field goal when the NBA introduced it in the 1979-1980 season. Ford continued playing with the Celtics until he retired at the end of the 1981-1982 season.

Ford was brought back to the Celtics as an assistant coach in 1983. He continued in this capacity and was made the head coach in 1990. Ford stayed with the team until moving to coach the Milwaukee Bucks in '96, followed by coaching duties for the Los Angeles Clippers. He stepped away from the NBA to coach for Brandeis University in 2001 and finished his career as a coach with the Philadelphia 76ers (first as assistant, then interim head coach) before retiring from coaching in 2004.

On January 17, 2023, Ford died at the age of 74, following complications from a heart attack he had earlier in the month. His family released a statement following his death (via The Detroit News): "Chris was beloved by his family, friends, and teammates. He had a great love for his family, the city of Boston, the fans, and the entire Celtics family. He always showed humility and respect for all those that were fortunate enough to be a part of his life."

Anton Walkes

Anton Walkes excelled at Tottenham Hotspur, where he became a full-time scholar in 2013, first signed a pro contract in 2015, and debuted on the team in September 2016, helping lead them to a 5-0 victory over Gillingham. He was loaned to Atlanta United and then to Portsmouth, playing three seasons for each team. He returned to play with Atlanta United after leaving Portsmouth and was signed by Charlotte FC in 2022. He played in 23 games for the team before his untimely death.

On January 18, 2023, Walkes was in South Florida for a 12-day training camp and was seriously injured as a passenger in a boat accident. WNCT 9, who obtained information from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, noted that "Walkes was riding a personal watercraft when it collided with a 46-foot boat in Miami..." on Biscayne Bay. He was given CPR and then taken to the hospital. Walkes died the following day from his injuries at age 25. 

David Tepper, the owner of Charlotte FC, wrote a statement that was tweeted by the team following Walkes' death: "He was a tremendous son, father, partner, and teammate whose joyous approach to life touched everyone he met. Anton made those around him better people in all areas of life and represented Charlotte FC to the highest standard both on and off the pitch."

Bill Schonely

Bill "The Schonz" Schonely wasn't an athlete in his own right, but his association with sports extended for over 50 years, making him worthy of appreciation here. Schonely enlisted in the Marine Corps a year after he graduated from high school, and before long, he was working as a DJ on Armed Forces Radio, he shared in his book, "Wherever You May Be: The Bill Schonely Story." He conducted interviews, read news, and began doing play-by-play calls on military baseball and football games. After leaving the Corps, Schonely continued doing what he loved and covered sports for multiple radio and television stations.

Schonely eventually moved to Seattle, Washington, where he called the Seattle Totems' televised hockey games for over a decade, moving on to call for the Seattle Pilots, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Portland Beavers. Throughout his professional career, Schonely called for all kinds of sports, including basketball, baseball, hockey, football, and roller derby. He was incredibly popular with the fans and was widely known for his accurate and entertaining calls and his favored catchphrase, "Rip City."

In 1999, Schonely was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2012, he received the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame. After retiring from sports broadcasting, Schonely did philanthropic work for a variety of charities, and he enjoyed playing golf and singing in his church choir. On January 21, 2023, Schonely died at the age of 93 and was survived by his Dottie. No cause of death was provided at the time. The founding Trail Blazers announcer was their ambassador for almost two decades.

Jessie Lemonier

Jessie Lemonier was a Liberty Flames football player who helped lead the college to their first-ever bowl game and was the MVP of the 2019 Cure Bowl. As a pro, Lemonier played outside linebacker and was signed by the Los Angeles Chargers as a free agent in April 2020. As The Detroit News explained, he went back and forth between the Chargers' active roster and their practice squad, playing six games during this period.

The Chargers released Lemonier, and he then played for the Detroit Lions in 2021 but was waived in 2022, so he worked with the Arizona Cardinals but was released. Finally, the linebacker was traded to the Birmingham Stallions after being signed to the Houston Gamblers. On January 26, 2023, Lemonier died of unspecified causes at the age of 25. The details of his death have not been released to the public. Regardless, Lemonier's passing was unexpected and occurred when he and his girlfriend were expecting a baby, his agent told ESPN.

The Detroit Lions said on Twitter, "We are shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of former Detroit Lion Jessie Lemonier. Jessie was a model teammate and wonderful young man who is gone far too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time." Lemonier died just days shy of his 26th birthday.

Billy Packer

Billy Packer spent much of his childhood playing basketball — and he was good. He played throughout high school and was guard on the Wake Forest University basketball team. When he graduated, he tried his hand at assistant coaching, but his interests lay elsewhere. After finishing his brief coaching stint, Packer got into broadcasting. In 1972, he took a job in Raleigh, North Carolina, and was an instant success. He worked with NBC until 1981 before jumping to CBS, which is where he would remain until 2008.

Packer covered ACC games for Raycom Sports, and he worked every NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship from 1975 until he retired from covering the NCAA in 2008 (per Wake Forest). Throughout his career, Packer distinguished himself with his expert analysis and commentary, earning praise and awards, including a Sports Emmy for outstanding sports personality, studio, and sports analyst in 1998. After spending more than three decades covering the NCAA Championships, Packer worked on "Survive and Advance" on Fox Sports News and dabbled in covering other athletic events.

Packer died at the age of 82 on January 26, 2023, following a three-week stay at the hospital for treatment of an unspecified medical condition. He ultimately died of kidney failure, and his family revealed his passing on Twitter, where they wrote: "The Packer Family would like to share some sad news. Our amazing father, Billy, has passed. We take peace knowing that he's in heaven with Barb. RIP, Billy."

Kyle Smaine

Kyle Smaine was a freestyle skier who took the gold at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships in 2015. Smaine was the obvious winner in the competition. The FIS report observed his "near-perfect first run stocked front-to-back with technical tricks and all done at an amplitude and with a style that clearly no [one] else could match..." Smaine's skills on the slopes took him all over the world, and in early 2023, he left his native South Lake Tahoe, California mountains for the Tsugaike Mountain Resort in Nagano, Japan.

Smaine went to ski and promote winter tourism following the decline resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. He and other skiers were enjoying their last day of the trip, as described by Grant Gunderson, a photographer who accompanied Smaine. "It was supposed to be the last day of the trip so we [were] just out for a mellow tour to Freeski [sic]. As we had one of the best days ever skiing / shooting the day before," Gunderson wrote on Instagram. He skied to the lodge to rest, leaving Smaine, another friend, Adam Ü, and an Austrian skier named Christoph Schöfegger on the slopes. 

While they were skiing, tragedy struck, as survivor Ü described to the Mountain Gazette: "We heard the crack. We realized it [was] a big one. We started running, and then we got hit." The avalanche engulfed them. Smaine was reportedly unresponsive, and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. He died on January 29, 2023, at the age of 31.

Bobby Hull

Bobby "The Golden Jet" Hull began playing hockey as a kid in Ontario. He debuted with the NHL in 1957 when he joined the Chicago Blackhawks. He led the league in both goals and point-scoring for three seasons, and in 1961, he helped his team claim the Stanley Cup. Hull was the first NHL player to score over 50 goals in a single season, which is one of many accomplishments, including winning the coveted Gordie Howe Trophy twice.

In 1972, Hull signed as both a coach and a player with the Winnipeg Jets, a World Hockey Association team, for an unprecedented $1.75 million plus a $1 million bonus. Hull finished his playing career with the Hartford Whalers in 1980, which put him on the same team as Gordie Howe. After retirement, Hull's number nine jersey was retired and he became the figurehead commissioner of the WHA. Unfortunately, Hull's personal choices were reportedly a different story. Per The New York Times, he assaulted a police officer and was arrested, allegedly assaulted two of his wives, and allegedly "[aired] repugnant views on race, genetics and Hitler."

On January 30, 2023, Hull died at 84. His son, Brett (also a Hall of Famer), shared on Twitter via the St. Louis Blues: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of my dad, Bobby Hull. Throughout his 84 years, he gave my family — and everyone he met — a tremendous amount of great memories." Hull had an exceptionally fast slap shot, 610 NHL career goals, and was one of the greatest players in professional hockey. Hull's cause of death has not been made public.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Stanley Wilson Jr.

Stanley Wilson Jr. was recruited out of high school to play football for Stanford University. Following a successful college career, Wilson was drafted in 2005 by the Detroit Lions, where he'd remain for the rest of his NHL career. The organization offered a new contract to Wilson for the 2008 season, and he agreed, but an Achilles tendon tear during a game against the New York Giants ended his football career.

Wilson's football career consisted of 32 games, nine of which he started. Post-football, Wilson wound up on the wrong side of the law numerous times. He was arrested in 2016 for breaking into a home in Portland, Oregon, in the buff. The following year, he was arrested for walking through a Portland neighborhood naked, and also in 2017, he was accused of another break-in. He was arrested in August 2022 for breaking into a home and bathing in an outside fountain.

On February 1, 2023, Wilson was transferred from jail to the Metropolitan State Hospital in Los Angeles, California, after he was deemed incompetent to stand trial. Wilson was hospitalized while dealing with an unspecified mental illness, and he suddenly collapsed and died at the age of 40, TMZ reported. His cause of death was not made public at the time of his passing. However, per the Los Angeles Times, his family alleged that his death was caused by "deliberate indifference" and "excessive force" and claimed they saw that he was wounded, and that he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). As of March 2023, Wilson's parents were seeking $45 million in damages from L.A. County.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Conrad Dobler

Conrad Dobler played for the University of Wyoming before being drafted in the 1972 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Dobler remained with the Cardinals until 1977 and spent the next two seasons with the New Orleans Saints and the Buffalo Bills. Throughout his time on the gridiron, Dobler was known as the "dirtiest" player in the NFL. That's not to say his hygiene was questionable — it was his tactics, which many criticized for being unsportsmanlike. Not only was this apt; Dobler freely admitted it.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, he commented on this, saying, "If you're going to break the rules, you've got to have a little style and class." When asked if he bit other players, he said, "If someone stuck his hand in your face mask and put his fingers in your mouth, what would you do?" However, the practice of biting was normally too unhygienic for Dobler. Ultimately, the right guard admitted, "I'll do anything I can get away with to protect my quarterback," and that's how he played the game.

Dobler's time on the field caused a lot of medical issues and knee surgeries. Despite the fact that his injuries resulted from his NFL career, Dobler (and many others) struggled to receive disability compensation from the organization. He fought for himself and others to get the help they needed. Dobler died on February 13, 2023, at the age of 72. While his cause of death wasn't made public, his brain was donated to Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center for study, USA Today reported.

Tim McCarver

Tim McCarver joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 1959 at the age of 18 for $75,000, which amounts to more than $775,000 in 2023. The pro deal was more lucrative than college baseball, and McCarver spent most of his career with the team. When he wasn't playing for the Cardinals, McCarver caught for the Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos, and the Boston Red Sox. He was a two-time All-Star and joined the Cardinals three times at the World Series — they won with him twice, and he had an impressive career, to be sure.

In 1980, McCarver shifted to broadcasting, working as a color commentator. He started in Philadelphia and went on to become a national network broadcaster. His television trajectory was equally as impressive as his playing. He won three Emmy awards throughout his tenure and called 20 All-Star games and 23 World Series. Of course, McCarver didn't please everyone, and after criticizing Deion Sanders at the 1992 National League Championship Series, the player dumped ice water on McCarver's head.

McCarver's multiple talents extended to the recording booth, and in 2009, he released "Tim McCarver Sings Selections from the Great American Songbook." He penned a memoir in 1987 called "Oh, Baby, I Love It!" and lent his talents to a number of movies, playing himself in "Fever Pitch" and voicing an announcer in "Moneyball." On February 16, 2023, McCarver died at the age of 81 of heart failure. The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced his death, as McCarver had been honored with their Ford C. Frick Award in 2012.

Greg Foster

Greg Foster was an exceptional athlete who ran for UCLA, winning multiple NCAA titles, including the 110 hurdles in '78 and 1980. He also won the 200-meter title in 1979. In 1984, Foster won the silver at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Throughout his career, he took home ten national titles and broke the U.S. record for high hurdles. Foster won three consecutive 110-meter hurdles titles in IAFF World Athletics Championships.

Throughout his career, Foster won a plethora of awards and set several records. He was among the best hurdlers in the world, ranking number one for five years. Injuries eventually led to Foster's retirement in 1996. Two years later, he was inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame. Foster was afflicted with amyloidosis, which endangers the heart. While physical activity exacerbated the condition, Foster continued to coach others.

He underwent a heart transplant in 2020, but the surgery didn't extend his life for long. On February 19, 2023, Foster died at the age of 64. Upon his passing, fellow athlete Ato Boldon took to Twitter, announcing, "Legendary UCLA Bruin 110m hurdler Greg Foster passed away tonight. He was world champion in 1983, 1987, and 1991, and Olympic silver medalist in 1984 in Los Angeles. Deepest condolences to his family and friends. The track and field world mourns this hurdling legend."

Lanny Poffo

Lanny Poffo began wrestling professionally in the mid-1970s, teaming up with his dad, Angelo, to take on other popular teams. He and his dad continued wrestling together, earning various accolades as they made their names in various circuits. Angelo moved away from wrestling in the ring when he founded the International Championship Wrestling organization in 1978. Lanny began wrestling with and against his brother, Randy Savage, better known as "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and they rose in the ranks.

Eventually, Poffo joined the World Wrestling Federation, debuting in 1985 as "Leaping Lanny." Randy also joined, though they weren't promoted as brothers. By 1989, Poffo became a heel and was reintroduced as "The Genius," the identity he's probably best remembered for. Poffo continued wrestling, off and on, throughout his life. He signed with the WCW and other organizations, but he kept out of the ring as time passed.

Poffo spent a lot of his time writing poetry, having previously thrown out frisbees of his poems to fans. He published two books, became a motivational speaker, and hosted a podcast called "The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo." On February 2, 2023, Lanny Poffo died at the age of 68 — his cause of death hasn't been made public. His passing was revealed by Hacksaw Jim Duggan on Twitter: "With a very, very heavy heart, I've been asked to let everyone know about the passing of our friend and colleague Lanny Poffo, The Genius. RIP Lanny."

Christian Atsu

Christian Atsu grew up in poverty alongside his ten siblings in Ghana. He began playing soccer when he was young, and with the help of his brother, he trained for a possible career as a professional player. He trained hard and missed his father's passing, which was difficult for the young athlete. All his work paid off when he was brought on as a winger for FC Porto in 2011. He played for Porto until 2013 when Chelsea FC signed him for approximately $4.3 million.

Atsu didn't play for Chelsea and was loaned out to several teams, including Vitesse, Everton, Bournemouth, Málaga, and Newcastle United. He then signed for Newcastle and played with them until 2021. Atsu played internationally for Ghana and did well on the world stage. He was known for his philanthropy, helping children who grew up in the same situation as he did. He once told The Independent, "I will not allow these kids to go to the same situation as I went to. We have to do everything possible to help these kids, to provide food, water, everything, and give them shelter."

Atsu was in Antakya, Turkey, on February 6, 2023, when a deadly earthquake struck the area. The 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake caused widespread damage, displaced millions, and claimed tens of thousands of lives. Sadly, Atsu was among the dead, having been in the Hatayspor FC's headquarters, which was reduced to rubble. His body was recovered on February 18 — he was 31.

Bob Perryman

Bob Perryman began his career in the NCAA, playing for the University of Michigan Wolverines. He managed 1,247 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns throughout his time with the team, and was on his way to playing with the NFL. After graduating, Perryman was picked up by the New England Patriots in the 1987 NFL Draft. Perryman played for the Pats for four years, but ran into some trouble in 1990 when he and two teammates were fined for an alleged sexual harassment incident (via the Los Angeles Times).

The complaint came from Lisa Olson, a reporter from the Boston Herald, who described inappropriate behavior that was degrading to her. Perryman was fined $5,000 for the incident, and the Pats were ordered to pay $25,000 for instructional materials on how to deal with the media. Whether it was due to the incident or something else, Perryman was released from the Pats shortly after he was fined. He was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys but didn't play with the team.

Perryman spent his final two years in the NFL playing for the Denver Broncos. He retired from the sport at the end of the 1992 season and went on to become an assistant coach for the local high school and college teams. He also worked as a probation officer and worked with the United Way. On February 23, 2023, Perryman died following a "rapid decline with dementia" at the age of 58.

Bud Grant

Bud Grant wore many hats throughout his life, most of them related to sports. He enlisted in the Navy during WWII and later attended the University of Minnesota, where he played basketball, baseball, and football. When he graduated, he was selected for both the NBA and NFL drafts. Grant played basketball for the Minneapolis Lakers and was a member of the team during the 1950 championship. Grant spent two years with the NBA before settling in with the NFL. He was brought onto the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1951 season and followed that season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, retiring from playing after the 1956 season.

Despite his prowess on the field, Grant was best known as a coach, having worked in that capacity for decades. He started coaching the Blue Bombers during the 1957 season and continued with the team for ten seasons, winning four championships. In 1965, he was named the CFL Coach of the Year and eventually left to coach the Minnesota Vikings in 1967. Grant coached the Vikings for 18 years, taking them to four Super Bowls, a league championship, three NFC championships, and 11 division titles.

Grant was known for his stoic appearance, rarely showing emotion during a game. He retired from coaching after the 1985 season and spent his time hunting and fishing. He became a vocal supporter of wetland conservation and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On March 11, 2023, Grant died in his home in Bloomington, Minnesota, at the age of 95.

Joe Pepitone

Joe Pepitone began his professional career with the New York Yankees in 1958. He was sent to the minor leagues for four seasons before being brought up to the Yankees in '62. He played first base in the 1963 season, which was the first year he went to the World Series opposite the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pepitone's costly error in game four clinched the win for the Dodgers. He fared better in the '64 World Series, hitting a grand slam in game 6, though the Yankees didn't beat the St. Louis Cardinals.

Pepitone won three Gold Glove awards with the Yankees but was traded to the Houston Astros in 1969. He didn't like that too much and came close to retiring before he was sent to the Chicago Cubs but was soon sent to the Atlanta Braves in 1973. Instead of retiring, Pepitone shipped himself off to Japan to play with the Yakult Atoms for a single season. He returned to the States in 1974 and retired from baseball. Pepitone published a memoir, and he joined the American Professional Slo-Pitch League to play professional softball.

Eventually, Pepitone got into coaching and was hired as a minor-league hitting coach for the Yankees. He had some run-ins with the law, mostly over drug and alcohol abuse throughout the 1980s and early '90s, spending some time in prison. On March 13, 2023, the Yankees announced that Pepitone died — he was 82, though no cause of death was given.

Jeff Gaylord

Jeff Gaylord's athletic career began at the University of Missouri. He became an All-American and was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1982. Unfortunately, he was cut from the team before he had a chance to play, and wound up playing for the Toronto Argonauts during the 1982 season. The following season, he played for the Boston and New Orleans Breakers and San Antonio Gunslingers in the United States Football League until it folded in 1986.

With his football career largely fumbling, Gaylord turned his attention to professional wrestling, which is where he's best known. Gaylord joined the Universal Wrestling Federation in 1985 and continued wrestling for the rest of his professional career. After two years with the UWF, he joined World Class Championship Wrestling as "The Hood," which was one of his many personas in the ring. Gaylord's personas included "The Black Knight," "Akeem Hassain," and The New Spoiler."

By the late 1990s, Gaylord was a member of The Psychos under "Psycho" Sid Vicious, and while he wrestled for several years, he had only one appearance with the World Wrestling Federation. After retiring in 1998, Gaylord's troubles began. He robbed two banks in 2001 and was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty. Then, in 2009, he tried to rob another bank. He was released from prison in July 2015 and did outreach work in Denver, Colorado. On 15 March 2023, Gaylord died at the age of 64.

Willis Reed

Willis Reed played for Grambling State University in Louisiana, where he led the team to an NAIA title and three championships. After graduating in 1964, Reed was drafted by the New York Knicks, where he would remain for ten seasons. While playing with the Knicks, Reed earned numerous accolades, including becoming a seven-time NBA All-Star, an NBA MVP, and he was a two-time NBA champion. He was sidelined by injuries and retired at the end of the 1973-'74 season, having played 650 games with the NBA.

When he finished his playing career, Reed began his second career: coaching. He began coaching with the Knicks but only spent a single season with the team. Reed went on to coach several teams, including working as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings. He finished his coaching career with the New Jersey Nets in 1989. After coaching, Reed went into management, becoming the general manager for the New Jersey Nets.

Reed later became the team's vice president of basketball operations before ultimately becoming the senior vice president of basketball operations. While working in this capacity, Reed helped bring his team to the NBA finals for two seasons. On March 21, 2023, the NBA Alumni Twitter account announced, "The basketball community has lost a Legend. Our hearts are with the family, friends, and fans of Willis Reed." Later, sports columnist Peter Vecsey revealed on Twitter that Reed died of "congestive heart problems."

Raymond Sawada

Raymond Sawada began playing hockey at an early age, and after helping his Pacific International Junior Hockey League team, the Richmond Sockeyes, to the championship in 2003, he made the leap to playing semi-professionally. Sawada was picked up by the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia Hockey League and played a full season with the team. Soon after, he was drafted by the Iowa Stars out of Cornell University, having played for the Cornell Big Red team, transitioning to the American Hockey League in 2007.

Sawada found his way to the National Hockey League via the Dallas Stars, having joined the team in the 2008 season. Throughout his career, Sawada only played in 11 NHL games. Most of his career was spent playing in the American Hockey League for the Iowa Stars, Manitoba Moose, the Texas Stars, and the St. John's IceCaps. Sawada went on to play for the Colorado Eagles, the Tappara Tampere, and the Belfast Giants. His final season of professional hockey came with the Oju Eagles in the Asia League Ice Hockey.

After the 2016 season, Sawada moved to Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. In retirement, Sawada became a firefighter for Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, and he continued to play hockey for fun. On April 10, 2023, Sawada was playing hockey with the Richmond Cowboys, a recreational league team, when he had a heart attack. According to the Richmond News, Sawada died in the evening on the ice; he was 38.

Noel Hanna

Noel Hanna achieved many impressive feats throughout the course of his life, having summited Mount Everest a whopping 10 times! He also became the first person from Ireland to summit and descend K2 in 2018. Hanna was long celebrated in his native Northern Ireland for his incredible skills in mountain climbing, and he spent much of his life clinging to rocks and ice at death-defying heights. Sadly, his life came to an end on April 18, 2023, while spending time on Annapurna in Nepal, the 10th-highest peak in the world.

While the 56-year-old Hanna's cause of death wasn't clear, he died at Camp IV while making his descent from Annapurna. He had already scaled the 26,545-foot (8,091-meter) peak before dying sometime overnight on the 18th. Hanna's body was recovered and flown to Kathmandu, Nepal. According to hiking officials, at least 365 people have summited Annapurna, though 72 have died on the mountain.

Hanna's sister, Irene Hunter, told BBC News that her brother's body would be flown to Finnis, Northern Ireland, near the Mourne Mountains, which is where his climbing career began decades earlier. She also said he "lived for the mountains" and "loved a view, and he just loved people," further calling him "a legend." Others described Hanna as a humble man who, despite being encouraged to write a book about his exploits, was modest in his achievements.

Chris Smith

Chris Smith entered the NCAA playing defensive end for the Arkansas Razorbacks after a successful high school career. In his senior year, he had 98 tackles and scored 16.5 sacks, so it wasn't surprising to see him attend the University of Arkansas, where he continued his winning streak. When his time in college came to an end, the 2014 NFL Draft landed him a role with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he played for three seasons. In 2018, Smith was traded to Cincinnati, Ohio, to play with the Bengals.

Smith played one season with the Bengals, managing to get his career-high of 26 tackles and three sacks. He left the Bengals for the Cleveland Browns and played with the team until 2020, when he signed on with the Carolina Panthers. Additionally, Smith played for the Las Vegas Raiders and the Houston Texans — he signed with the Baltimore Ravens but didn't play for the team. Smith also managed to land a gig with the XFL, signing with the Seattle Sea Dragons in March 2023.

Sadly, Smith wasn't able to complete the season with the team. On April 17, 2023, Smith died at the age of 31. The cause of death wasn't made public, and news of his passing was posted on the Cleveland Browns' Twitter: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Browns DE Chris Smith. Chris was one of the kindest people, teammates, and friends we've had in our organization."

Mike Shannon

Mike Shannon excelled in football, basketball, and baseball throughout high school, but the latter sport dominated his life. Shannon attended the University of Missouri on a football scholarship to play quarterback. He played for the team during his freshman year and was offered a $50,000 bonus to join the St. Louis Cardinals, which he ultimately did in 1962. At the time, football players weren't making much money, and while Shannon considered himself to be a better football player, he settled on baseball, which would dominate his professional life for decades.

Shannon played with the Cardinals, first as the right fielder and later as the third baseman. He played in three World Series, winning two, and remained with the team until retiring in 1970. At that time, Shannon began his second career, which he's arguably best known for today. In 1972, Shannon became the Cardinals radio broadcaster and remained in the job until 2021. He holds the distinction of calling Cardinals games longer than anyone else, with 50 years under his belt.

Shannon announced his retirement in 2021 on his 50th anniversary, and later that year, the Cardinals honored him with a farewell ceremony. His retirement announcement came soon after he had "a rough bout with the coronavirus" the previous fall. Shannon developed long COVID, requiring physical therapy long after recovering from the infection. On April 29, 2023, Shannon died at the age of 83; his cause of death was not made public.

Larry Rivers

Larry "Gator" Rivers first became enamored with the Harlem Globetrotters when he saw "The Harlem Globetrotters" movie at the age of seven. From there, he developed his own unique style, though he took a lot of inspiration from Marques Haynes' dribbling skills. "I knew that was what I was going to do. I took my ball with me everywhere, dribbled it every place." Rivers excelled at basketball through his high school years, and while he received many scholarship offers, he set his sights on Missouri Western.

Rivers' plan was never to score an NBA draft pick, telling the Daily News in 1982, "It was always the Trotters, not the NBA." True to his word, Rivers tried out for the Globetrotters in 1973 and was welcomed onto the team. His dribbling skills set him apart, making him a shoo-in, though he was the shortest member of the team, standing only six feet tall. Rivers played with the Globetrotters off and on and coached the team until 1986. In addition to playing ball, Rivers ran for and won the District 2 seat at the Chatham County Commission in Georgia in 2021.

In his later years, Rivers became active with his community in Savannah, Georgia. He volunteered at local schools, helped promote rebuilding basketball courts, and opened a non-profit mentorship organization called Gatorball Academy — you can guess what he taught children there. On April 29, 2023, Rivers died of cancer at a hospital in Savannah; he was 73.

Tori Bowie

Tori Bowe began running track in high school, and she won the Mississippi state championships in both the 100-meter and long jump during her junior year. The following year, she won the same categories in the state championships and added the 200-meter race to her resume. Bowie dominated high school track and participated in various events, winning numerous accolades. After high school, Bowie accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern Mississippi, where she represented her school in NCAA Division I competitions.

College opened a lot of doors for Bowie, who went on to compete professionally in 2013. She began making waves at various national and international championships, gaining lots of attention. In 2016, she represented the U.S. at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she took home the silver in the 100-meter dash. She also won a gold and bronze medal, and the following year at the 2017 London World Championships, she took home two gold medals.

Bowie went on to earn a sponsorship from Adidas, and she appeared in various documentaries. She was also a burgeoning fashion icon, but on May 2, 2023, Bowie was found dead at the age of 32. According to People, she hadn't been heard from or seen for several days, so a wellness check was conducted by the Orange County Sherriff's Office, finding her body in her home. While no foul play was suspected, authorities did not reveal a cause of death when her passing was reported.

Lance Blanks

Lance Blanks started playing basketball as a child and went on to have a standout career in college, playing for the University of Virginia and the University of Texas at Austin. He closed out his NCAA career in Texas, where he remains the two-year player with the highest number of points scored in the school's history with 1,322. Despite this accolade, Blanks earned the ire of his fellow teammates and other players for his on-court antics and penchant for celebrating any victory.

The Detroit Pistons picked up Blanks in the 1990 NBA Draft, and while he excelled on the court in the NCAA, his NBA career wasn't as notable. After leaving the Pistons, he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves before heading overseas to play in Europe for a few seasons. Ultimately, Blanks retired from playing at the turn of the century and switched gears to scouting for the San Antonio Spurs. He followed this up as the assistant general manager of the Cavaliers in 2005, followed by a three-year stint as the general manager of the Suns, beginning in 2010.

Blanks worked as an analyst for ESPN and other organizations throughout his career, ultimately taking a job with the Texas Longhorns' Longhorn Network in 2020. He also spent time working in various philanthropic efforts, supporting efforts to study chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative condition common in football players, and he worked with Basketball Without Borders. On May 3, 2023, Blanks died by suicide at the age of 56.

Devin Butts

Devin Butts was a promising player in high school, earning a Two-time All-State selection, and was well respected on the court for his impressive skills. In high school, he averaged 28 points per game and went on to play for the North Carolina Central University Eagles, where he distinguished himself. In addition to his NCAA duties, Butts pursued a bachelor's degree in behavioral and social sciences — he was on track to graduate in mid-2023.

Just after midnight on May 1, 2023, Butts was playing basketball with some of his teammates in the North Carolina Center University McDougald-McLendon Arena when he experienced sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed. He was taken to the hospital, where doctors struggled to identify the cause. The school's Athletic Director, Louis Perkins, told News Observer, "We are aware of no history that could cause this." Butts never regained consciousness, and on May 5, 2023, just days after his collapse, Butts died at the age of 22 after having been declared brain dead, though his cause of death remains a mystery, as it hasn't been made public.

Unfortunately, the nature of his death, his history of perfect health, and his age brought out conspiracy theorists who have mired his passing in negativity online. Butts' death quickly became the canon fodder of vaccine deniers, many of whom attributed his death to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. While this is most certainly nonsense, it has nonetheless made Butts a new poster child for anti-vaccine conspiracists online.

Vida Blue

Vida Blue could have pursued a career in either football or baseball, though he ultimately chose the latter. Having quarterbacked in high school with some impressive stats, it was baseball that called to the left-handed power pitcher, and in 1969 he joined the then-Kansas City A's. Blue spent much of his career with the A's, pitching for the team until 1977. Throughout that time, he helped his team win three World Series championships. Additionally, he won the Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award in 1971.

Baseball historian Bill James ranked Blue during this time as having the second-best fastball in baseball, behind Nolan Ryan. In 1978, Blue was traded to the San Francisco Giants, and in 1982, he played with the Kansas City Royals. Blue closed out his pitching career with the Giants, playing with the team from 1985 to the following year. Throughout his time in baseball, Blue gained numerous accolades and was a six-time All-Star. After stepping off the mound, Blue became an NBC Sports Bay Area analyst.

Blue's career suffered somewhat due to substance abuse, which he believed kept him from being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Throughout his career and after he stopped playing, Blue spent a great deal of time doing charity work. He went to Vietnam during the war to support the troops with the USO and supported many charities throughout his life. On May 6, 2023, Blue died "of medical complications stemming from cancer" (via 11 News).

Larry Mahan

Larry Mahan got into rodeo competitions when he was 14, and he was good from the start. Between 1966 and 1975, Mahan won the title of World All-Around Champion five times, and he added a sixth win in 1973. The man was easily the most famous and one of the most skilled professional radio performers of the 20th century. In 1973, Mahan, the "Elvis of Rodeo," was the subject of the documentary "The Great American Cowboy," which won the Academy Award for best documentary feature film the following year.

The film covered Mahan's competition with Phil Lyne for the World Championship All-Around Cowboy title, which Mahan won. Mahan spent 14 years actively competing in the professional rodeo circuit, and he was a champion. When Mahan retired in 1977, he continued selling his Larry Mahan Boot Collection, which included a clothing line. Mahan's business acumen continued to show promise, and in 1984, he teamed up with John Milano and the Milano Hat Company to sell the popular Larry Mahan's Hat Collection.

Mahan spent some time in various careers throughout his life, including a brief music and acting career. In addition to the documentary, he appeared in several feature films and TV movies, sharing the screen with the likes of Tommy Lee Jones, Slim Pickens, and James Coburn. On May 7, 2023, Mahan died of cancer in his Valley View, Texas home. According to his close friend, Bobby Steiner, Mahan's death resulted from bone cancer (via The New York Times).

Joe Kapp

Joe Knapp began his football career quarterbacking for his high school team, and when he graduated, he went on to play for the University of California, Berkeley. Kapp's collegiate career was outstanding, and he led the California Golden Bears to many wins. In 1958, Kapp was awarded the W.J. Volt Memorial Trophy, and his career was off to a great start. Kapp also played basketball — and excelled, but he'd ultimately choose football for his career. Kapp was picked up by the Washington Redskins in the 1959 NFL Draft.

Ultimately, he didn't play for the Redskins, and instead hopped north to play for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League. Kapp remained with the CFL until 1967 when he joined the Minnesota Vikings. He played with Minnesota until 1969 when he moved to the Boston Patriots, where he ended his playing career in 1970. Kapp shifted to coaching, returning to his alma mater to coach the Golden Bears in 1982. In 1990, he was named the president and general manager of the BC Lions. He also had a robust acting career in the 1970s and '80s.

Kapp achieved numerous accolades throughout his career, and he remains the only quarterback to play that position in the Grey Cup, the Rose Bowl, and the Super Bowl. In early 2016, The Mercury News reported that Kapp was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He ultimately died from complications of the disease on May 8, 2023, in San Jose, California, at the age of 85.

Marlene Hagge

Marlene Hagge started playing golf at the tender age of three. By ten, she was winning competitions, and at 13, she won a plethora of championships, significantly elevating her standing. In 1947, when she was still only 13, she made the cut for the U.S. Women's Open, ultimately finishing eighth. Hagge was named Associated Press' Athlete of the Year and Golfer of the Year two years later. She also won numerous Junior titles that year. Hagge's golfing skills were exceptional, and she went on to do something remarkable.

In 1950, Hagge and 12 women founded the LPGA, opening the door for women to compete professionally at the same level as men. Hagge's professional career was filled with victories, having won 26 professional events while on the LPGA Tour. She continued to win tournament after tournament, including winning the 1952 LPGA Championship, and in 2002, Hagge was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, six years after her final game with the LPGA.

Throughout her five-decade career playing golf with the LPGA, Hagge earned an impressive $481,032, which amounts to a great deal more when adjusted for inflation. On May 16, 2023, Hagge died from complications resulting from a fall. A specific cause of death wasn't provided to the public, but her death was attributed to a fall several months earlier. She was 89 and the last surviving founder of the LPGA, making her passing a significant hit to the sporting world she helped establish.

Superstar Billy Graham

Eldridge Coleman isn't a name many people recognize, but like most professional wrestlers, Coleman didn't use his name throughout most of his life. The man who would become "Superstar" Billy Graham got into weightlifting in elementary school and bulked up beyond his classmates. He had a short stint in the Canadian Football League, but his true calling was bodybuilding and, ultimately, wrestling. After over a decade of bodybuilding competitions, Graham found his way to the wrestling ring, debuting under his real name in early 1970.

Graham grew from there, developing his character by incorporating arm wrestling into his matches, claiming to be the "Arm Wrestling Champion of the World." Eventually, Graham found his way to the WWWF in 1975, followed by stints with other organizations, including multiple contracts with the WWF (later, the WWE). Graham was indeed a Superstar capable of commanding the love and attention of fans whenever he stepped into the ring. His work influenced the likes of Jesse Ventura, Hulk Hogan, and many others.

Graham began having significant health problems in the early 2000s after contracting hepatitis C, requiring a liver transplant. He also had a long history of drug abuse and required multiple surgeries to repair his hip and other parts of his body. His liver issues would continue and develop into new problems over the following two decades. On May 17, 2023, Graham died at the age of 79 from sepsis and multiple organ failure stemming from his ongoing medical issues.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown was long considered to be one of the greatest professional football players of all time. Brown played numerous sports in high school, but it was the gridiron that took him to Syracuse University, where he endured racism and segregation while simultaneously becoming the best player on the team. Brown was an All-American and probably should have won the Heisman had he lived in a less turbulent time. Regardless, he was a standout athlete in Football and several other sports, including lacrosse.

The Cleveland Browns picked up Brown in the 1957 NFL Draft, and he remained with the franchise until 1965. Brown set or broke nearly every rushing record throughout his professional career, and his list of accolades is exceptionally long. In addition to becoming an NFL champion, Brown won the MVP award three times, went to nine Pro Bowl games, and so much more. After ending his playing career, Brown got into acting. Most notably, he played Robert Jefferson in "The Dirty Dozen," which is one of his many impressive credits.

Later in life, Brown was best known for his activism, which built on the work he did throughout the 1950s and '60s for the civil rights movement. In 1966, he founded the Negro Industrial Economic Union (now the Black Economic Union) to help minority-owned businesses. On May 18, 2023, Brown died "peacefully" of natural causes in Los Angeles, California. He is remembered as a true champion of sports, civil rights, and much more.

Peggy Leather

Peggy Leather began competing with the World Wrestling Federation in 1980 and remained with the outfit for five years. During that time, she became one of the WWF's elite Tag Team leaders, preferring to fight alongside Wendi Richter. Eventually, the two split up, and Leather tried to take the title from her former teammate. After leaving the WWF, Leather headed north to compete in Canada before settling in with the American Wrestling Association, where she remained until 1988.

In 1990, Leather took on the name Lady X and began working with the Powerful Women of Wrestling, otherwise known as POWW. She and Richter maintained a feud during this time and wrestled for a few years before joining the Independent circuit. Later, Leather adopted the name Thug and wrestled for the Women of Wrestling. Leather continued performing for years, and in 2013, she finally retired from the sport. Her career spanned four decades and included promotions for Stampede Wrestling, All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling, and more.

On May 22, 2023, Leather died at the age of 64. The cause of death was not made available to the public. Friends of Leather posted about her after her passing, including Jack Lord, who described her as "a tough lady, but also one of the sweetest. I have so many stories of our times together, the mix tag matches that we had (that also involved Selina (Bambi) Majors) and how we always looked out for each other on the road" (via Wrestling News Source).

Jim Hines

Jim Hines played a lot of sports in his youth, but it was his sprinting that attracted the most attention. Hines was remarkably fast, and in 1968, he broke the ten-second barrier in the 100-meter race, becoming the first man to do so. This remarkable achievement — running 100 meters in 9.9 seconds — was dubbed the "Night of Speed." Hines was quoted saying, "There will never be another night like it. That was the greatest sprinting series in the history of track and field" (via World Athletics).

While Hines' record was eventually broken, it took 15 years for that to happen. In the intervening time, Hines became an Olympian, running for the United States at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico. Hines took home two gold medals from that competition, one for the 100-meter race and another for the 4x100-meter relay. After the Olympics, Hines was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 1968 NFL Draft. While he was a fantastic sprinter, he wasn't a great football player, and he ended his brief career with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1970.

Hines spent the rest of his days working with inner-city youth in Houston, Texas. He was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Texas Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016. On June 3, 2023, Hines died at the age of 76. No cause of death was provided to the public at the time of his passing.

Roger Craig

Roger Craig signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 after playing for a single year at North Carolina State University. He played for the team, taking a brief hiatus to serve his country during the Korean War. Craig returned and was moved up to the majors as the Dodgers' starting pitcher. Over the next few months, he proved his prowess, pitching winning games for the Dodgers from 1955 to 1961, helping the team win the World Series in 1955. After leaving the Dodgers, he was scooped up by the New York Mets in 1962.

Craig's pitching was exceptional during this time, and he opened for the Mets' first game in 1962. Craig pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Philadelphia Phillies throughout his long career. In 1966, Craig retired from the mound and took up scouting duties for the Dodgers, now in Los Angeles, California. He followed this with work as a coach for the San Diego Padres, the Houston Astros, and the Detroit Tigers. Craig ultimately shifted to management, managing the Padres for one year before taking over the San Francisco Giants from 1985 to 1992.

In 1985, Craig was inducted into the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame. He took home four MLB Championship Rings throughout his career, having helped win four World Series. He was an excellent pitcher and is remembered for his split-fingered fastball. On June 4, 2023, Craig died at the age of 93 following a brief illness.

Sherry Schmidt

Sherry Schmidt was an up-and-coming competitor in mixed martial arts, competing in the strawweight division. She competed in various MMA fights but hadn't made it to the UFC, as she was still making her way there as her career developed. She debuted in the cage in Art of War 19 in July 2021 and spent several years working to that point. In an interview about her debut, she said, "I never thought I'd be here." As it happens, MMA wasn't Schmidt's initial plan, as she was initially interested in racing motocross competitively.

Schmidt spent a great deal of time racing motocross before coming to MMA and eventually found her way there via some of her friends who trained in the sport. While holding pads for her friends, she came to the decision to follow in their footsteps. Schmidt went out and found a gym, opening the door for her career. Ultimately, Schmidt lost her debut match against Janii Rosario but was undeterred and continued training for more.

On June 5, 2023, at the age of 29, Schmidt was killed in a car accident, though information about the tragic crash is scant. News of her death spread on social media among the MMA community, with friends like Ryan Kim Cafaro posting about the loss. Additionally, those close to Schmidt launched a GoFundMe page to raise $20,000 for funeral expenses. It didn't take long for the fundraiser to surpass the goal, and a week after her passing, Schmidt's GoFundMe passed $21,000.

Pat Casey

Pat Casey was one of those kids who'd spend most of his free time riding his bike, but he wasn't just cruising around the neighborhood. At the age of 16, Casey turned professional and quickly became known throughout the BMX community for his Decade Backflip and other impressive moves. Casey represented the United States throughout his career, taking home numerous medals at various world championships, including numerous awards at the X Games, from 2012 until 2021.

In addition to freestyle BMX, Casey was also an exceptional motocross performer, though it would sadly result in his death. On June 6, 2023, Casey was practicing jumping at the Axell Hodges Slayground Motocross Park in San Diego, California. While practicing a jump, his bike found its way on top of him, slamming into Casey as he hit the ground. Paramedics rushed to the scene and spent an hour attempting to revive him, but, according to E News, Casey was declared dead at the scene.

Casey was 29 at the time of his death, and he left behind his wife, Chase, and their two children, Reid and Tatum. After his passing, Chase took to Instagram to share some touching memories about her husband, writing, "Pat, the world looked at you the way you looked at me. Our love story was cut short on earth, and I don't know if I'll ever be okay with that ... but I find comfort in knowing that nothing was left unsaid and that I will see you soon."

Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri

Professional wrestling fans in the 1980s may not know the name Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri — but they know The Iron Sheik. Vaziri began wrestling with the WWF in the early 1970s as a villain, and it didn't take him long to get noticed. Vaziri wrestled throughout the '70s before gaining popularity as The Iron Sheik, a gimmick he adopted upon joining the WWF. Not long after, Vaziri won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in 1983.

The Iron Sheik wrestled throughout the 1980s, forming a feud with the likes of Hulk Hogan, helping elevate the Hulkster as one of the premiere competitors in the sport. He formed a tag team with Nikolai Volkoff, a Croatian-American who played a Soviet heel at the height of the Cold War. As The Iron Sheik's popularity grew, Vaziri ran afoul of the police, damaging his reputation after being arrested for drug use and possession in 1987. Fortunately, he overcame this career hiccup and continued appearing in and outside the ring throughout the '90s and 2000s.

Vaziri became popular on Twitter in the late aughts, though he wasn't responsible for the content. Regardless, he remained popular in and out of wrestling. On June 7, 2023, Vaziri died at the age of 81. His death was announced on his Twitter page: "As we bid farewell to The Iron Sheik, let us remember him not only for his athletic prowess but also for the joy and inspiration he brought into our lives."

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Patrick Gasienica

Patrick Gasienica debuted with the International Ski Federation in 2015, and it wasn't long before he was turning heads. The up-and-coming skier competed in various world championship competitions as he honed his skills on the world stage. In addition to showings at FIS Junior World Ski Championships in 2016 and 2017 and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2019, Gasienica represented the U.S. at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. Unfortunately, he didn't take home any medals, finishing 49th and 53rd in individual events and 10th in the team competition.

At the time, Gasienica said, via ESPN, "We don't really have a lot of jumpers, but it's getting better. Especially since the pandemic, a lot of different kids are joining the different clubs around America. Hopefully in a couple of years — five, 10, maybe — we'll have a really, really great team." On June 12, 2023, Gasienica was riding his motorcycle to his McHenry, Illinois, home when he got into a tragic and fatal accident.

Details of the accident haven't been released, but what is known is that he was riding his bike at night in Chicago, Illinois' suburb of Bull Valley. A joint statement the following day informed the world of Gasienica's passing: "USA Nordic Sport and U.S. Ski & Snowboard's thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends, and the ski jumping community" (via The U.S. Sun). USA Nordic added on its Twitter page (via ABC) that "Patrick was an incredible competitor, teammate, and friend."

Harvey Glance

Harvey Glance sprinted through college at Auburn University, where he twice equaled the 100-meter world record. The man was fast, and he proved this time and time again. In 1976, Glance won the NCAA 100-meter and 200-meter races; the following year, Glance won the 100-meter championships again. Throughout his NCAA career, Glance took home a lot of medals, and he competed at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, representing the United States.

That year, Glance took home a gold medal along with his teammates from the 4x100-meter relay. Glance continued competing through the 1970s and well into the '80s, taking home many gold medals throughout his career. While he qualified to represent the U.S. at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, USSR, but didn't due to the U.S. boycott protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Fortunately, this didn't hamper Glance's career, and he continued representing the U.S. at various world championships held elsewhere.

In the 1990s, Glance transitioned into coaching at Auburn University, followed by a posting at the University of Alabama. He helped make the team one of the best in the country, and they won many championships. On June 2, Glance had a heart attack, which ultimately resulted in his death on June 12, 2023. Glance was 66 when he died, and while his knees kept him from running later in life, he knew how to coach others in the sport.

Homer Jones

Homer Jones was drafted out of Texas Southern College by the Houston Oilers in 1963. A knee injury sidelined his career with the Oilers, and the team cut him. Fortunately, Jones' career wasn't at an end, thanks to the New York Giants, which offered him a bus ticket and a spot on the team. Jones happily accepted, and before long, he was dubbed "Rhino" by his teammates. Early in his career, Jones invented a practice that remains to this day when he threw down the ball after scoring a touchdown.

Jones called the movie a "spike," and post-touchdown celebrations have existed ever since. "I was fixing to throw it into the grandstand. But just as I was raising my arm, the reality snapped into my head. Mr. Rozelle would have fined me [$500]. That was a lot of money in those days. So, I just threw the ball down into the end zone, into the grass. Folks got excited, and I did it for the rest of my career."

Knee injuries eventually ended his career, forcing Jones to retire from playing in 1971 at the age of 29. On June 14, 2023, Jones died following a long affliction of lung cancer. His daughter confirmed his death, noting that he passed in a hospital in Pittsburg, Texas, at the age of 82. While his career was comparably brief, Jones is remembered for his impressive speed, feared catching ability, and as the father of the spike.

Clark Haggans

Former NFL pro Clark Haggans died on June 19, 2023. CBS News credited radio personality Chris Dunlap as the person who first broke the news. "Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Clark Haggans has died," tweeted Dunlap. "He was 46. Haggans played for the Steelers from 2000-07, was a 2000 5th round pick of the organization, and member of the Super Bowl XL championship team." Steelers President Art Rooney II honored Haggans with a statement. "We are saddened to hear about the tragic and unfortunate passing of Clark Haggans. He helped us capture our fifth Super Bowl championship following the 2005 season, and he was a very active member of the community during his time here in Pittsburgh."

According to CBS Sports, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Haggans in 2000, thus kicking off his 13 years in the NFL. Although Haggans achieved a great deal of success — including bringing home a Super Bowl ring in 2006 — he found ways to fill his time once he retired from the sport. According to his 2019 Steelers Now interview, Haggans poured into his children and spent more time on his real estate portfolio. However, Haggans also revealed, "It's hard when you don't hear your named called sometimes. That's why they say the transition can be hard. That and it was so regimented." So far, officials are still untangling Haggans' cause of death, but they've already eliminated the possibility of foul play. It is unknown if Haggans suffered from any physical illnesses.

Ryan Mallett

Ryan Mallett was an All-American quarterback from Arkansas that got his start playing backup for Tom Brady in 2012 for the New England Patriots. On his first season as a pro-football player, Mallett shared with NBC Sports Boston, "I've always felt good about my abilities. This has been my life. Football is what I do. But, to me, it's like the jump from year one to year two at Arkansas. Once I get it down, I feel so much more comfortable and so much more ready to go. We get to jump right into it and I can't wait."

Mallett then went on to play for the Houston Texans for two seasons and the Baltimore Ravens until 2018. He went on to become the head coach at White Hall High School in Arkansas in February 2022, where he remained until his death on June 27. Mallett was just 35 years old when he tragically drowned while swimming in the waters of a beach in Destin, Florida, per CNN. The former NFL quarterback was caught in a rip current and was unable to pull himself out. The lifeguards were able to retrieve him but sadly, Mallett died in the hospital.

The White Hall School District shared, "It is with great sadness that we share the loss of Coach Ryan Mallett. Coach Mallett was a beloved coach and educator. We ask that you remember his family, team, students, fellow coaches, and the White Hall School District staff in your prayers."

Jo Lindner

German bodybuilder and fitness influencer Johannes Lindner, more known by his online persona "Joesthetics," died at the age of 30. His girlfriend, Nicha, took to Instagram to share the news of his passing. She said that he tragically died in her arms and that his death was caused by an aneurysm.

"Jo is the best place everyone," Nicha wrote. "Yesterday his past away by aneurysm .. I was there with him in the room.. he put on the necklace in my neck that he made for me." She also added that Lindner had been complaining about experiencing pain a few days before his death. "He was in my arms.. than this is just happening too fast," she continued. "3 days ago he kept said that he pain his neck .. we not really realize it... until it too late."

Lindner built a massive following online through his bodybuilding videos. At the time of his death, he had 9.4 million followers on Instagram and 979,000 YouTube subscribers. A day before his death was announced, he shared on Instagram that he was dealing with health issues after going off testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). "When I lost my gains because I went off everything for 1 year but then could not recover my own [testosterone] levels so went back on trt," he penned. "Trust me I tried to stop but be aware it might have long-term effects for your life." He also had a guest appearance on the "Raw Talk" podcast in June 2023 and said that he had what is called a "rippling muscle disease," which he characterized as "bad cramps." He shared, "That makes me scared. That's why I'm staying away from bodybuilding competitions too much."

Alex Collins

Football running back Alex Collins enjoyed an illustrious career playing for not one, not two, but three professional teams. Upon playing collegiate football at the University of Arkansas, Collins was drafted by the Seahawks during the fifth round. He went on to play one season in Seattle, and then swiftly changed course, opting to sign with the Baltimore Ravens in 2017. In a surprising turn of events, however, Collins returned to his old Seattle Seahawks stomping grounds in 2021. Then in 2023, Collins signed with the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League. "I'm looking forward to this opportunity," Collins penned in an Instagram post on January 14. "Arkansas, I'm coming close to home! See y'all in Memphis," he declared.

Sadly, however, Collins' time in Memphis proved to be short-lived. On August 13, Collins was fatally killed in a motorcycle collision in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. He was only 28 years old. According to the Broward County Sheriff's Office, Collins' 2004 Suzuki GSX-R600K crashed into a 2002 Chevrolet Suburban SUV. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Following the news of Collins' death, many took to social media to pay tribute to the late athlete, including Collins' family. "Alex was cherished by his family and friends as well as supporters from all around the world. All who truly know him can attest to his drive, determination, and larger-than-life personality," the family penned in a lengthy statement. "We kindly request your thoughts and prayers for our family during this difficult time."

Terry Funk

Wrestling legend Terry Funk died on August 23 at the age of 79, WWE confirmed. Terry's longtime friend and ring partner/rival Mick Foley also confirmed the tragic news in a post shared on Twitter. "Terry Funk is gone. I just talked to Terry's daughter, Brandee, who gave me the awful news," Foley wrote. "He was my mentor, my idol, one of the closest friends. He was the greatest wrestler I ever saw." Though a cause of death was not announced at the time, Wrestling News reported that the former WWE star suffered from dementia in his final years.

Born in June 1944, Terry drew his earliest influences from his father Dory Funk who was also a professional wrestler. However, it was not until 1975 when he defeated Jack Brisco to win the NWA World Heavyweight title that Terry started sparking public interest. He then went on to enjoy a decades-long wrestling career during which he became well known for his rugged and hardcore style of fighting. A testament to his skills as a wrestler, Terry racked up a number of championships during his career, including 1975's National Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Championship, per ESPN. According to the outlet, in 2009, Terry was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Unsurprisingly given his remarkable impact, Terry's death has been mourned by all. Former pro wrestler Ric Flair commended Terry's diligence to his craft, while describing Terry as "a Great Wrestler, Entertainer, Unbelievably Fearless, And A Great Friend!," per Twitter.

Tim Wakefield

On October 1, MLB legend Tim Wakefield died from brain cancer at age 57. "Our hearts are broken with the loss of Tim Wakefield," Wakefield's former team, the Boston Red Sox, shared on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Wake embodied true goodness; a devoted husband, father, and teammate, beloved broadcaster, and the ultimate community leader. He gave so much to the game and all of Red Sox Nation. Our deepest love and thoughts are with Stacy, Trevor, Brianna, and the Wakefield family."

Though he started off his pro career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wakefield spent most of his career with the Boston Red Sox, winning a total of 186 major league games with the team. With this number, Wakefield comes behind Cy Young and Roger Clemens to rank second on the list of players with the most wins at Red Sox. Additionally, according to Baseball Reference, he also holds the team records for home runs and innings pitched. In 2016, four years after his retirement, Wakefield was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.

In addition to a successful career in baseball, Wakefield was popular for his unending philanthropic acts. So much so that in 2010, he was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award. "I would have to say in my years of baseball playing and then my 31 years with the Jimmy Fund, I have never seen anybody exceed his charitable generosity," Mike Andrews, former chairman of the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, said at the time, according to

Dick Butkus

Storied Chicago Bears player Dick Butkus died on October 5 at his home in California, as announced by his family in a statement released by the team. During his career, the former middle linebacker was first team All-Pro five times, and was selected for the Pro Bowl eight times before being elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. "Dick Butkus was a fierce and passionate competitor who helped define the linebacker position as one of the NFL's all-time greats," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement, per the Associated Press. Although his playing days came to an end in 1973 following a knee injury, Butkus had a second career in the media as a sportscaster, actor, and spokesperson, which made him one of the most recognizable players of his generation.

His death was announced just hours before the Bears were set to take on the Washington Commanders. The team was 0-4 going into the game, but were seemingly energized by the news as they exploded to defeat the Commanders 40-20. "First win in a long time. Bears legend. He'll never be forgotten. We played for him tonight. This one's for him," the team's quarterback Justin Fields said after the game, per NBC Sports Chicago.

Not only did members of the NFL family mourn Butkus's death on social media, but even Barack Obama shared words about the former Bear. "In Chicago, Dick Butkus was football," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on October 6.

Adam Johnson

Former NHL player Adam Johnson died at the age of 29 after an on-ice collision during a hockey game. Johnson suffered a skate cut to the neck and was subsequently rushed to Sheffield's Northern General Hospital, where medical personnel pronounced him dead on October 28. "The Nottingham Panthers are truly devastated to announce that Adam Johnson has tragically passed away following a freak accident at the game in Sheffield last night," his team, the Nottingham Panthers, announced in a statement, per the Associated Press. "The Panthers would like to send our thoughts and condolences to Adam's family, his partner, and all his friends at this extremely difficult time."

Following a successful college career, Johnson signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins and went on to play only two seasons with the team. In total, Johnson appeared in only 13 games in the league before his release, according to People. Following his exit from the team, the pro athlete pursued an international career, first playing in the American Hockey League before moving along to Europe, where he played for England until his death.

Matt Ulrich

On November 5, former Indianapolis Colts player Matthew James Ulrich, otherwise known as Matt Ulrich, died at the age of 41. "I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of Matt Ulrich. Matt was with us only two seasons but left his mark on many," Colts team owner Jim Irsay tweeted. "Great guy, I hear he was a great dad—and he was a Super Bowl champ. My prayers to his family."

According to E! News, before joining the NFL in 2005, Ulrich played college football at Northwestern University. Following his draft, the athlete went on to win the 2006 Super Bowl with the Colts. "Seeing the confetti come down Colts colors and being able to hold the Lombardi Trophy, everyone being on the field, I had to remind myself to take one moment for myself," Ulrich recounted to Montana Sports of the team's memorable win. Shortly after the Super Bowl victory, Ulrich retired, choosing instead to work in the health and wellness industry. In 2011, the former Colts offensive guard co-founded a chain of body fat and metabolic testing centers called DexaFit LLC, according to CBS

Ulrich leaves behind his wife, Alison, with whom he shared four kids. "Matt, we love you so so much. You are profoundly missed. We all want you back for just one more day. One more hug. One more kiss. One more laugh. One more joke," Alison wrote in a heartbreaking tribute (via IndyStar). No cause of death was revealed.