Athletes We've Lost In 2022 So Far

In sports, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose — that's basically the name of every game. The year 2022 was definitely a losing year for the following athletic greats, as well as their friends, their families, and the sports fans who adored them, as this was the year they hung up their jerseys for the last time. Some of them died after coping with grave illnesses, while others died suddenly and shockingly, lost much too young.

Fans saw them compete on the largest stages in the world and so will miss the talented athletes lost in 2022 who each made their sport so enjoyable and fascinating to watch. Saying goodbye is never easy, and the athletic world will continue to mourn these individuals' deaths for years to come. 

Whether they are kicking balls, shooting hoops, or calling plays from the other side, may these sports stars eternally rest in peace.

Ahmet Tilmaz Calik

Turkish footballer, Ahmet Yılmaz Calik, had so much to look forward to in life, but sadly his days were cut short in January 2022. Calik lost control of the vehicle he was driving, crashed, and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The devastating incident sent shockwaves through the Turkish sports community. 

Calik had started his promising athletic career first playing for a club called Genclerbirligi as a youth and moving up the ranks. After moving to the senior team in 2011, he then starred in 26 games for Galatasaray before signing with Konyaspor in 2020, where he made 51 appearances as the team's center back.

The 27-year-old star was making great strides in his personal life as well as his professional one. He was going to be married soon and had set out for Ankara to finalize wedding plans when the tragic accident occurred.

Clarence 'Pooh Bear' Williams

Clarence "Pooh Bear" Williams first made a name for himself in the sports community by playing running back at Florida State University. He then took his career to the next level, serving as Crescent City's head coach and later taking a position as Palatka High School's defensive back coach. He was gearing up to take on yet another role as Palatka's defensive coordinator when his life came to a sudden and sad ending.

Williams was 47 years old when he died in a car accident, shaking his adoring Florida community. Palatka coach Patrick Turner spoke for many mourners in a deeply personal statement about his colleague and friend. "When I say everybody loved him, everybody loved him," Turner said to The Osceola. "I never met anybody who said a bad word about him. The kids loved him. The coaches loved him. He was just a really good person." 

When it was time to officially say goodbye to Williams, hundreds of people piled into the Al Wisnoski Field at Wiltcher Stadium to attend his funeral and pay their last respects.

Dwayne Haskins

In April 2022, Dwayne Haskins was spending time in Florida to train with his football team, the Pittsburg Steelers, when he was struck and killed by a dump truck on a highway. The night of his death, Haskins had been on the phone with his wife, Kalabrya Gondrezick-Haskins, telling her that he was out searching for gas for his vehicle. Haskins' wife became concerned when she didn't hear back from him. She called 911, and dispatch was sent to search for him. They found the football star but sadly not in the condition everyone had hoped for.

The death was ruled accidental, and toxicology reports showed Haskins had blood alcohol levels far above Florida's legal limit of .08. Furthermore, reports revealed the presence of the drugs ketamine and norketamine.

Friends, teammates, and family were devastated at the loss of their beloved son. Haskin's wife issued a statement on her husband's death, expressing her gratitude for the support as well as her deep love for her husband. "My husband was more than a great football player. He had the smile of a rainbow that touched the diversity of so many. He will forever rest and remain in our hearts til the end of time. His eternal love will always reside with us, Ohio State, Washington Commanders and Steelers nation for eternity!" she said, in part.

Gary Brown

The American football community lost a great player, coach, and friend with the death of Gary Brown. Brown played at Penn State and for the Houston Oilers in the '90s. He went on to share his football wisdom with a new generation of athletes, first serving as the running backs coach for the Cleveland Browns and later for the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Wisconsin.

Brown died from cancer in April, leaving behind his wife Kim, daughters Malena and Dorianna, son Tre, and so many brokenhearted friends, fans, and colleagues. "Great Father, Husband, Coach, and Mentor. Appreciate you and your family more than anything GB. Thank you for teaching me the way on the field and in life. Appreciate you Gary Brown," tweeted running back DeMarco Murray. "This one hurts ... rest easy coach," tweeted Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen.

The outpouring of well wishes and kind thoughts illustrated what a loved individual Brown was.

Lusia Harris

She might not be as well-known or celebrated as big basketball names like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant, but make no mistake, Lusia Harris was a giant in her sport. In fact, she was the first woman in history to be drafted into the NBA. Talk about a historical, groundbreaking figure.

Harris was born to sharecroppers in Mississippi. As a young girl, she recalled having big baller dreams of being just like her basketball heroes, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and others. "I wanted to grow up and have my own family, and I wanted to shoot that ball just like they were shooting," she said in a 2021 documentary titled "The Queen of Basketball." She did that and so much more. Harris helped her Delta State University basketball team earn three national championship titles in the 1970s and later earned her place (rightfully) in the Basketball Hall of Fame. 

Harris certainly achieved her dreams and then some before dying at the age of 66 in January 2022.

Katie Meyer

The loss of a young and promising athlete is especially saddening. Katie Meyer was the star goalkeeper for Stanford University, where she also served as the soccer team's captain. A few months shy of graduation, 22-year-old Meyer was found dead in her dorm room. Her death was ruled a suicide, leaving pain and questions for her loved ones. Meyer's parents spoke to Today, saying their daughter's disciplinary letter might have catapulted her into doing the unthinkable.

"Katie, being Katie, was defending a teammate on campus over an incident and the repercussions of her defending that teammate (were possibly resulting in disciplinary action)," father Steve Meyer said. "She had been getting letters for a couple months. This letter was kind of the final letter that there was going to be a trial or some kind of something. This is the only thing that we can come up with that triggered something," mother Gina echoed.

The university also issued a statement, and several of Katie's friends and teammates echoed the heartfelt sentiments. While her parents wonder if the pressure got to be too much for Katie, they have hopes that this tragic incident can open the door for better communication between schools and families. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Jeremy Giambi

Jeremy Giambi, a former outfielder who played for six seasons in the MLB, took his life in February 2022, at 47 years old. He was found unresponsive in his mother's home. During his lifetime, Giambi was one-half of the infamous Giambi brothers. He and his bat-swinging sibling, Jason Giambi, were somewhat legendary, as it is rare to have brothers playing in the major leagues and on the same team, which the pair did during their time in Oakland, California.

Following Giambi's death, the baseball community expressed sentiments and sadness about losing one of their own. "I am completely shocked by the news about Jeremy. He was an incredibly loving human being with a very soft heart, and it was evident to us as his teammates that he had some deeper battles going on," former A's pitcher Barry Zito remarked via text to the San Francisco Chronicle. The "deeper battles" may have been related to the player's past steroid drug use, which resulted in Jeremy and brother Jason testifying at Barry Bonds' trial in the early 2000s, revealing the wide range of steroid use in professional baseball at that name, aka the Steroids Era.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Odalis Pérez

Odalis Pérez pitched in the MLB for 10 seasons, helping teams like the Braves, Dodgers, Nationals, and Royals achieve notable wins. Pérez's career highlights include throwing the first real pitch at the new Nationals Park, pitching a one-hitter game in 2002, and snagging a home run against the Arizona Cardinals during that same year. He officially retired from the game in 2013.

In March 2022, Pérez's brother discovered his lifeless body on the patio outside his Dominican Republic residence. It appeared the former big league left-handed pitcher had fallen from a ladder. He died at 44 years old, leaving family, friends, and fans alike in mourning.

"The Los Angeles Dodgers mourn the passing of former pitcher and 2002 All-Star Odalis Pérez. Our thoughts are with his family and friends," tweeted the organization, one of the baseball clubs the deceased athlete once called home.

Adreian Payne

Adreian Payne is a household name in Spartan Country. During his time playing for the Michigan State University Spartans, the 6-foot-10 basketball star led his team in athletics, but more importantly, in humanity.

It was his goodness and kind, helping spirit that ultimately led to his death, albeit inadvertently. Payne and his girlfriend were called to the home of Lawrence Dority in Orange County, Florida, by Dority's girlfriend, Tatiana Mesa. The couple went with good intentions and hoped to resolve a domestic conflict, but the scuffle went south quickly. Payne and Dority engaged in a verbal altercation that resulted in Dority retrieving a firearm from his home and ending Payne's life with a single shot.

The 31-year-old's tragic death rocked the athletic world. Former coach Tom Izzo released a statement on the incident: "Today is a difficult and sad day for the Spartan basketball family. Following graduation, Adreian regularly returned to East Lansing. In doing so, he developed and strengthened relationships with players from all eras. I've heard from many of those players today, each one experiencing heartbreak, and each one with their own fond memory of Adreian."

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.

Dan Reeves

Dan Reeves had a Super Bowl ring, a long and lucrative football career to be proud of, and a coaching career that most can only dream of. To say he lived a long and fruitful life would have been an understatement.

The football giant closed the chapter on this life in 2022 when he succumbed to complications from dementia at 77 years old. The legendary former athlete and coach peacefully died in his home, surrounded by loved ones. Game greats like John Elway and organizations like the Denver Broncos expressed their sadness at Reeves' death, highlighting how much he would be missed in the game as well as in the hearts of so many.

Reeves played for the Dallas Cowboys before turning to coaching at 37 years old. He led the Denver Broncos to final Super Bowl appearances three times during his tenure there. He went on to mentor and guide players on professional teams like the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons before taking on a position as an advisor at Georgia State University. He was a notable player, leader, confidant, and friend to so many football greats, and his career was indeed a legacy. 

Sarah Schulze

College cross country and track runner Sarah Shulze had everything going for her. She was intelligent and well-liked, and exhibited incredible athletic prowess. From the outside, anyone looking in would have assumed that Shulze's life was just beginning, as great things surely awaited this talent. After finishing an outstanding academic and athletic high school career at Oak Park High, Shulze went on to attend the University of Wisconsin on scholarship, where she was named to the Big Ten all-academic teams in both 2020 and 2021.

The promising runner's life and future sadly and abruptly ended with her suicide in 2022. Her grieving parents disclosed the devastating occurrence via the Sarah Shulze website. "Balancing athletics, academics and the demands of everyday life overwhelmed her in a single, desperate moment. Like you, we are shocked and grief-stricken while holding on tightly to all that Sarah was," explained her family. 

Shulze's death was one of five college-athlete tragedies to occur in a short span of time during 2022, highlighting a scary mental health epidemic among the college athletic population. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Junior Siavii

In January 2022, a former defensive tackle who played professional football for esteemed organizations like Kansas City, Dallas, and Seattle, 43-year-old Saousoalii Siavii Jr., (better known as Junior Siavii), died. He was found unresponsive in a Kansas prison and transported to a medical facility, where he was later pronounced dead.

The towering 6-foot-5-inch wall of a man was drafted in 2004 to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he spent two seasons stopping just about everything and everyone in his path. He then bounced to a few other professional clubs before leaving the game and, unfortunately, becoming mixed up in illegal activities. Siavii had landed in very hot water in 2019 after being arrested and "charged with being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms," among other things. He was sentenced for his crimes and sent to Leavenworth prison.

The circumstances of the former football player's death remain elusive, and a cause of death hasn't been released. 

Shane Olivea

Former Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Shane Olivea died at the age of 40 in March 2022 of unknown causes. The former Ohio State offensive linesman, who was a part of the esteemed 2002 Buckeye National Championship team, overcame major opioid addiction to live out his NFL dreams playing for the San Diego Chargers (where Olivea spent four seasons and made a starting appearance in nearly every one of his NFL games).

His former teammates were shocked and saddened to hear of their friend's death. "Very sad to hear the news of my former teammate Shane Olivea. Praying for his family today," tweeted former teammate Roman Oben, the only NFL teammate who supported Olivea during what he described as a low point in his life. 

Olivea had done so much to kick a severe habit and bring hope and light to others struggling with the same demons. As he told The Columbus Dispatch in 2016, "If you got it, you can spot it. I can spot an addict in a public setting. I know the behavior. I know the tendencies. I know what he's going to do. I'll be able to notice somebody going down that slippery path and maybe catch them."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Tony Siragusa

The Baltimore Ravens have been hit hard with loss in 2022, as they not only endured the death of young, rising star Jaylon Ferguson, they also faced the loss of a beloved former defensive tackle. Tony Siragusa, who played for 12 seasons in the NFL, died in his sleep at age 55. He spent seven seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and then five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, where he scored a coveted Super Bowl win. Following his football career, Siragusa worked as a sideline analyst with Fox, sharing his knowledge and perspectives on the game. 

Siragusa was widely known for his leadership skills and larger-than-life personality, both on the field and off. His practical jokes, jovial personality, and endless amounts of humor made him a character fans and players loved to be around. "He was a great family man. He loved people, he was funny," professional boxer Gerry Cooney recalled. Siragusa's death affected the vast football community, and their sentiments were reflected in a tweet from NFL analyst Aaron Wilson, who wrote, in part: "Retired former Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa died ... at age 55. Former Ravens teammate Brad Jackson: 'He was the leader; he was our captain. He meant everything to everyone. It's a sad day. I just talked to him on Sunday. It's terrible.'"

Siragusa left behind his wife and three children. His family released a statement on Facebook, thanking supporters for their love and words of encouragement. Rest in peace, Goose. 

Bob Lanier

Detroit Pistons fans and basketball lovers everywhere mourned the loss of the great center, Bob Lanier, in 2022. The 14-season, eight-time All-Star with the shockingly big feet (size 22) and an equally big heart, died in May after battling a short illness. He was 73 years old.

During his time on the court, Lanier became a stand-out center for the Detroit Pistons, spending most of his career in the Motor City. While there, he rose to become the Pistons' all-time leader in scoring average and a giant in rebounds. He managed to conquer almost everything basketball-related outside of snagging a championship ring. 

Lanier's career was something to behold, and he is often regarded as one of the best the game has ever known. NBA commissioner Adam Silver tweeted sentiments regarding Lanier's death and reflected on what he meant to basketball. The Pistons franchise also made a statement on Lanier's legacy on Twitter, highlighting his contributions to the club and offering condolences to his family. "The Detroit Pistons organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Bob Lanier, a true legend who meant so much to the city of Detroit and to generations of Pistons fans. As fierce and as dominant as Bob was on the court, he was equally kind and impactful in the community. As an ambassador for both Pistons organization and the NBA, he represented our league, our franchise, and our fans with great passion and integrity."

Jaylon Ferguson

Jaylon Ferguson of the Baltimore Ravens suddenly died in June. The NFL outside linebacker was only 26 at the time of his death. The Louisiana native was found unresponsive by police in Northern Baltimore, and when authorities arrived, he was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death remains undetermined, but foul play has thus far been ruled out.

Ferguson was a third-round draft pick in 2019 following his college football career at Louisiana Tech. He flourished in the college athletics scene, scoring prestigious accolades like the 2018 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year and earning first-team All-C-USA honors not once, but twice, in his years at Louisiana Tech.  During his three seasons with Baltimore, he managed 67 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Both his Louisiana Tech family and Baltimore Ravens family were shocked and saddened by the loss of a talented player with a kind soul and heart. 

"The LA Tech Family mourns this morning's tragic news of the sudden death of former Bulldog great, Jaylon Ferguson. We will remember his God-given talents on the field and his infectious personality off of it. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. RIP, 45," tweeted the Louisiana Tech football organization. Similar sentiments were mirrored by the Ravens community in a Twitter post. Ferguson leaves behind a fiancée, three children all under the age of five, and an extended family, who expressed deep sadness at his death.

Caleb Swanigan

Caleb Swanigan was only around for a short 25 years, but during that timespan, he accomplished a lot. The talented baller — who died of natural causes in June — had a rough start to life, spending time in foster care and experiencing homelessness. Through life's trials and challenges, he always had basketball, and the 6-foot-9 athlete used his gifts on the court to achieve a level of success most only dream about.

Swanigan proved to be a driving force for his high school basketball team, leading them to their only state title in 2015 and becoming IndyStar Mr. Basketball. He then attended Purdue University and was deemed the Associated Press player of the year in the Big Ten Conference in 2017. He was then drafted by the Portland Trailblazers, succeeding in making it to the big leagues.

Basketball aside, Swanigan was musically talented, releasing a single in 2019, and devoted time to humanitarian causes close to his heart, aiding in fundraising for those experiencing homelessness in his hometown of Salt Lake City. As such, many fans were saddened to hear of his untimely death. Purdue coach Matt Painter released a statement saying, "The Purdue basketball family is deeply saddened and devastated at the loss of Caleb Swanigan; Caleb was a very thoughtful individual and a gentle soul who excelled both on and off the court. He made a huge difference in everyone's lives that he touched and he will be greatly missed."

Jody Lukoki

Professional soccer player Jody Lukoki met a devastating and untimely end when his life was cut suddenly short at only 29 years old. The soccer star, who during his career played for clubs like Ajax, SC Cambuur, PEC Zwolle, Ludogorets Razgrad II, Ludogorets Razgrad, Yeni Malatyaspor, and most recently FC Twente, had been nursing a serious knee injury, which took him out of the sport, but per his Instagram, he was getting back to peak health, hoping to hit the field once again.

Sadly, that comeback never happened, as Lukoki suffered a heart attack in a hospital in Almere after reportedly being beaten by family members over a heated argument. The club he most recently signed with, FC Twente, expressed sad sentiments via Twitter: "This morning FC Twente received the terrible news that Jody Lukoki has passed away. The club is shocked and deeply moved by this tragic event. FC Twente sympathizes with its loved ones and wishes them a lot of strength in processing this great loss."

As of this writing, the death of the soccer star is continuing to be investigated as more details emerge surrounding the events leading up to and related to his tragic death.