We often view athletes as invincible. We see how tough they are on a daily basis, we see their dedication in clear view, we think highly of them, and we never imagine anything bad happening to them. Unfortunately, everyone sees their time come to an end and athletes are no different.
For example, 2021 was a difficult year for athletes. We witnessed several sports legends pass away, including John Madden, Hank Aaron, Elgin Baylor, Demaryius Thomas, Bobby Bowden, Marty Schottenheimer, Jerry Remy, Tommy Lasorda, Colt Brennan, and more.
We never truly know when someone might pass and that’s why we must appreciate them and learn from them while they’re here. We should celebrate them every chance we get – through the ups and downs, the glory and shame, humility and pride, etc. Athletes rely on our support.
RELATED: Sports Legends We Lost in 2021
Athletes That Passed Away in 2022
While 2021 was a difficult year for athletes, 2022 is proving to be just as heartbreaking. We’ve not only seen sports legends pass away, but we’ve seen young sports stars meet their end far too soon. From Hall of Famers to five-star recruits, some star athletes are no longer with us.
It’s a harsh reality to accept, but a reality nonetheless. It often comes without warning, usually seems to happen at the worst time, and is generally met with an extreme amount of emotion as loved ones, friends, coaches, teammates, fans, and others mourn the loss – it’s never easy.
While we’re only halfway through 2022, we’ve already witnessed too many athletes pass away – including some within the past few days. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable athletes that are no longer with us, as of 2022. Let’s remember them for the legacies they leave behind.
40. Bill Russell
Bill Russell was born on February 12, 1934 and passed away on July 31, 2022 at the age of 88. He spent 13 seasons in the NBA, all with the Boston Celtics. Throughout his career, he averaged 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in 42.3 minutes per game (963 games).
The Hall of Fame center was a 12-time All-Star, 11-time champion, five-time MVP, and one-time All-Star MVP. He led the league in rebounding four times and was named an All-NBA player 11 times. He acted as a player-coach for three seasons, becoming the first black coach in the NBA.
39. Vin Scully
Vin Scully was born on November 29, 1927 and passed away on August 2, 2022 at the age of 94. He never played a professional sport, but his early love of baseball would lead him into a legendary broadcasting career that stretched more than six decades – from 1949 until 2016.
In 1950, Scully started calling Los Angeles Dodgers’ games – a gig he kept for 67 years, until retiring in 2016. During that time, he also worked for CBS Sports and NBC Sports, calling a wide range of nationally-televised baseball, football, and golf contests – furthering his legacy.
38. Marlin Briscoe
Marlin Briscoe was born on September 10, 1945 and passed away on June 27, 2022 at the age of 76. He spent nine seasons in the NFL after being selected by the Denver Broncos in the 14th round in 1968 – also enjoying stints with the Bills, Dolphins, Lions, Charges, and Patriots.
Briscoe threw for 1,589 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 1968 before transitioning to a wide receiver. Over the next eight seasons, he recorded 224 receptions for 3,537 yards and 30 touchdowns. He won back-to-back Super Bowl titles with the Dolphins in 1972 and 1973.
37. Rayfield Wright
Rayfield Wright was born on August 23, 1945 and passed away on April 7, 2022 at the age of 76. He played college football at Fort Valley St. before the Dallas Cowboys drafted him in the seventh round of the 1967 NFL Draft. He spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the Cowboys.
The offensive tackle started 114 games for Dallas and played in another 52 games in his career. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro player, and two-time Super Bowl champion in 1972 and 1978. In 2006, Wright was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player.
36. Charles Johnson
Charles Johnson was born on January 3, 1972 and passed away on July 17, 2022 at the age of 50. He played college football at Colorado University before being selected 17th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1994. The wide receiver went on to spend eight seasons in the NFL.
Johnson played 133 games with the Steelers, Eagles, Bills, and Patriots. During that time, he recorded 354 receptions on 659 targets for 4,606 yards and 24 touchdowns. He surpassed 1,000 yards in a season once (1996) and won his only Super Bowl title with the Patriots in 2001.
35. Spencer Webb
Spencer Webb was born on April 7, 2000 and passed away on July 13, 2022 at the age of 22. He was a consensus four-star, top-ten tight end out of high school, scoring 23 touchdowns his senior year. He then utilized a redshirt his freshman year at the University of Oregon in 2018.
In 2019, he finished with 18 catches for 209 yards and three touchdowns for the Oregon Ducks. After a shortened 2020 season due to COVID-19, he returned as a sophomore in 2021 and finished with 13 catches for 87 yards and one touchdown – playing in all 14 games for the team.
34. Hugh McElhenny
Hugh McElhenny was born on December 31, 1928 and passed away on June 17, 2022 at the age of 93. He played college football at the University of Washington before being selected ninth overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 1952. The halfback went on to spend 13 years in the NFL.
McElhenny played in 143 career games, rushing for 5,281 yards and 38 touchdowns – adding 264 receptions for 3,247 yards and 20 touchdowns as a receiver. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro player who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970.
33. Ralph Neely
Ralph Neely was born on September 12, 1943 and passed away on January 5, 2022 at the age of 78. He played college football at the University of Oklahoma before being selected by the Baltimore Colts in the second round in 1965. He was immediately traded to the Dallas Cowboys.
Neely went on to spend his entire 13-year career in the NFL with the Cowboys, winning two Super Bowls with the team in 1972 and 1978 – he was teammates with Rayfield Wright. Neely was named a Pro Bowler in 1967 and 1969, as well as an All-Pro in 1967, 1968, and 1969.
32. Scott Hall
Scott Hall was born on October 20, 1958 and passed away on March 14, 2022 at the age of 63. He began his professional wrestling career in 1984 and eventually caught the eye of the World Wrestling Foundation (now the WWE) in 1992 – where he used the ring name Razor Ramon.
Known for his charisma, Hall won the WWF Intercontinental Championship four times before signing with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) – he was a two-time WCW Heavyweight Champion. He also co-founded the New World Order with Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash.
31. Gino Cappelletti
Gino Cappelletti was born on March 26, 1934 and passed away on May 12, 2022 – he was 88. He played college football at the University of Minnesota, but went undrafted in the 1960 AFL draft. He later signed with the Boston Patriots and spent his entire 11-year career with Boston.
During that time, he hit 176 of his 336 field goals and 342 of his 353 extra point attempts. He also recorded 292 receptions for 4,589 yards and 42 touchdowns. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and was named the AFL Player of the Year in 1964. He was as versatile as they come.
30. Odalis Perez
Odalis Perez was born on June 11, 1978 and passed away on March 10, 2022 at the age of 43. He made his MLB debut on September 1, 1998 and played his final game on September 28, 2008. He spent 10 years in the MLB with the Braves, Dodgers, Royals, and Nationals.
In 252 games played and 221 games started, Perez had a 73-82 record, 4.46 ERA, four complete games, and two shutouts. He threw 920 career strikeouts in 1,335.0 innings pitched. He was named an All-Star in 2002 after going 15-10 with a 3.00 ERA in 32 games started.
29. Luke Knox
Luke Knox was born on September 19, 1999 and passed away on August 17, 2022 at the age of 22. He played four years of college football at Ole Miss University – where his older brother and current Buffalo Bills’ tight end, Dawson Knox, once excelled– between 2018 and 2021.
Knox was scheduled to finish his collegiate career in 2022 with Florida International University. The linebacker/tight end “was a tremendous teammate and an even better person who lifted up everyone around him,” according to his former head coach at Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin.
28. Bob Babich
Bob Babich was born on May 5, 1947 and passed away on April 3, 2022 at the age of 74. He played college football at Miami (OH) University before going 18th overall to the San Diego Chargers in 1969. He went on to spend nine seasons in the NFL with the Chargers and Browns.
In 125 career games played, Babich recorded six interceptions, six fumble recoveries, one defensive touchdown, and 7.0 sacks. The linebacker never quite lived up to the hype, but he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994 – something that is well-deserved.
27. Lionel James
Lionel James was born on May 25, 1962 and passed away on February 25, 2022 at the age of 59. He played college football at Auburn University before being drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round in 1984. At just 5’6’’, they called him ‘Little Train,’ which was fitting.
James spent his entire five-year career in the NFL with the Chargers, recording 1,062 rushing yards, 2,278 receiving yards, and 14 total touchdowns in 67 games played. He also scored a punt return touchdown in 1984 as a rookie and in 1987. He scored eight touchdowns in 1985.
26. Mike Bossy
Mike Bossy was born on January 22, 1957 and passed away on April 15, 2022 at the age of 65. The right winger was drafted by the New York Islanders with the 15th overall pick in 1977 and made an immediate impact – scoring 53 goals and 38 assists in his first year of NHL action.
Bossy went on to have a legendary 10-year career in the NHL, scoring 573 goals and 553 assists (1,126 points) in 752 games. The Hall of Famer was a four-time Stanley Cup winner, an eight-time All-Star, a three-time Byng Trophy winner, and won the Smythe and Calder Trophies.
25. Guy Lafleur
Speaking of legendary hockey players, Guy Lafleur was born on September 20, 1951 and passed away on April 22, 2022 at the age of 70. He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens with the first overall pick in 1971 and went on to play 17 years in the NHL – 14 years with Montreal.
Lafleur scored 560 goals and 793 assists (1,353 points) in 1,126 career games played. During the 1977-78 season, he scored a career-high 60 goals and was named an All-Star – also winning the Hart, Pearson, and Ross Trophies. He won five Stanley Cups with the Canadiens.
24. Don Perkins
Don Perkins was born on March 4, 1938 and passed away on June 9, 2022 at the age of 84. He played college football at the University of New Mexico before being drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the ninth round in 1960 – though he never played for them due to an earlier contract.
Instead, Perkins started his career with the Dallas Cowboys, who were just awarded an NFL franchise. He spent his entire eight-year career in the NFL with the Cowboys, recording 6,217 rushing yards, 1,310 receiving yards, and 45 total touchdowns. He was a six-time Pro Bowler.
23. Marion Barber III
Marion Barber III was born on June 10, 1983 and passed away on June 1, 2022 at the age of 38 – just nine days before his 39th birthday. He played college football at the University of Minnesota before being selected in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2005 draft.
Barber III spent the next six seasons with Dallas before finishing his career with the Chicago Bears in 2011. In 99 games played, he recorded 4,780 rushing yards, 1,330 receiving yards, and 59 total touchdowns. He had an impressive two-year stretch where he had 28 total TDs.
22. Dale Douglass
Dale Douglass was born on March 5, 1936 and passed away on July 6, 2022 at the age of 86. He played college golf at the University of Colorado and turned professional in 1960. Douglass earned a total of 21 professional wins on the Champions Tour, PGA Tour, and Senior PGA Tour.
A majority of Douglass’ success on the golf course came after he turned 50 years old – which is when he joined the Senior PGA Tour. He earned 11 of his professional wins here, including the 1986 U.S. Senior Open – accumulating over $7 million in prize earnings on the Senior Tour.
21. Dwight Smith
Dwight Smith was born on November 8, 1963 and passed away on July 22, 2022 at the age of 58. He made his major league debut on May 1, 1989 and played his final game on September 29, 1996. The outfielder spent a total of eight years in the MLB, mostly with the Chicago Cubs.
In 813 career games played, Smith had a .275 batting average with 497 hits, 46 home runs, 20 triples, 88 doubles, 226 runs batted in, 244 runs scored, and 42 stolen bases. He came in second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1989 and won the 1995 World Series with the Braves.
20. William White
William White was born on February 19, 1966 and passed away on July 28, 2022 at the age of 56. The defensive back played college football at Ohio State University before being drafted in the fourth round by the Detroit Lions in 1988. White went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL.
In 170 career games played, White recorded 721 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 20 interceptions, three defensive touchdowns, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. He had a career-high five interceptions with the Lions in 1990 and caught another four interceptions in 1992.
19. Johnny Egan
Johnny Egan was born on January 31, 1939 and passed away on July 21, 2022 at the age of 83. He played college basketball at Providence College before being drafted in the second round by the Detroit Pistons in 1961. He went on to spend a total of 11 seasons in the NBA.
Egan spent time with the Pistons, Knicks, Bullets, Lakers, Cavaliers, and Rockets. In 712 games played, he averaged 7.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 20.3 minutes per game. He had at least 10 points per game in two different seasons – including 13.0 points in 1963-64.
18. Larry Jeffrey
Larry Jeffrey was born on October 12, 1940 and passed away on July 18, 2022 at the age of 81. The 5’11’’, 189-pound left winger started playing junior hockey in 1957 and bounced around between the OHA, AHL, and WHL before making his NHL debut with the Red Wings in 1961-62.
Jeffrey went on to play eight yearsin the NHL with the Red Wings, Maple Leafs, and Rangers. In 368 career games played, he scored 39 goals and dished 62 assists for 101 points. His high point came during the 1966-67 season with the Maple Leafs – they won the Stanley Cup.
17. Bryan Marchment
Bryan Marchment was born on May 1, 1969 and passed away on July 6, 2022 at the age of 53. The 6’1’’, 200-pound defenseman was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets with the 16th overall pick in 1987. He eventually made his NHL debut with the team during the 1988-89 campaign.
Marchment went on to play a total of 17 years in the NHL with nine different teams – his longest stint with one team came with the San Jose Sharks for six years. In 926 games played, he had 40 goals and 142 assists (182 points) – adding another 4 goals and 3 assists in the playoffs.
16. Jim Pappin
Jim Pappin was born on September 10, 1939 and passed away on June 29, 2022 at the age of 82. He started junior ice hockey in the OHL in 1958 and eventually made his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1963-64 season. He went on to play 14 seasons in the NHL.
In 767 career games played, Pappin had 278 goals and 295 assists (573 assists) with the Black Hawks, Golden Seals, Barons, and Maple Leafs. In fact, he won two Stanley Cup titles with the Maple Leafs in 1964 and 1967 – reaching two more Stanley Cup Finals in 1971 and 1973.
15. Shirley Spork
Shirley Spork is a former professional golfer who was born on May 14, 1927 and passed away on April 12, 2022 at the age of 94. She turned professional in 1950 as one of 13 co-founders of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). She played golf for roughly 80 years.
Her best finish was second place at the 1962 Women’s PGA Championship and finished tied for eighth in the U.S. Women’s Open that same year. In addition to her career as a player, she was a golf teaching professional and even worked as a teacher at Bowling Green State University.
14. Adreian Payne
Adreian Payne is a former professional basketball player that was born on February 19, 1991 and passed away on May 9, 2022 at the age of 31. He was involved in a shooting while trying to solve a domestic dispute, later being pronounced dead. The shooter was charged with murder.
Payne was drafted 15th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 2014, but struggled to make a good impression. He spent four seasons in the league with three teams before taking his talents overseas. He last played for Juventus in Lithuania, parting ways with the team in February.
13. Ross Browner
Ross Browner is a former professional football player who was born on March 22, 1954 and passed away on January 4, 2022 at the age of 67 – due to COVID-19 complications. He attended Notre Dame and was the eighth overall draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1978.
Browner spent 10 seasons in the NFL – nine with the Bengals and a lone season with the Green Bay Packers in 1987 before retiring. He finished his career with 62.5 sacks, 1 interception, 10 fumble recoveries, and 1 safety. He finished second in Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1978.
12. Tommy Davis
Tommy Davis is a former professional baseball player who was born on March 21, 1939 and passed away on April 3, 2022 at the age of 83 – with his family by his bedside. He made his major league debut on September 22, 1959 and played his final game on October 2, 1976.
During his 18-year career in the major leagues, Davis batted .294 with 2,121 hits, 153 home runs, 1,052 runs batted in, 811 runs scored, and 136 stolen bases. He was a three-time All-Star that led the league in batting average twice (1962 and 1963) and won the 1963 World Series.
11. Daryle Lamonica
Daryle Lamonica is a former professional football player who was born on July 17, 1941 and passed away on April 21, 2022 at the age of 80 – he died in his sleep. Known to many as ‘The Mad Bomber,’ Lamonica was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 24th round of the 1963 AFL Draft.
Lamonica would go on to spend four years with the Bills before playing eight seasons with the Oakland Raiders. During his 12-year career, he had a 66-16-6 record with 19,154 yards, 164 touchdowns, and 138 interceptions. He was a five-time Pro Bowl and three-time AFL Champion.
10. Katie Meyer
Katie Meyer is a former collegiate football (soccer) player who was born on January 20, 2000 and passed away on March 21, 2022 at the age of 22 – she died of suicide. She played soccer throughout high school, but was also a kicker for her high school’s varsity football team.
In 2015, Meyer committed to the Stanford Cardinal. She later joined the university in 2018 and played her first game in 2019 after redshirting her first season. In 2020 and 2021, she was a team captain and one of the most respected – and feared – goalkeepers in the entire nation.
9. Jaylon Ferguson
Jaylon Ferguson is a former professional football player who was born on December 14, 1995 and passed away on June 22, 2022 at the age of 26 – he left behind a son, two daughters, and his fiancee. The cause of death is unknown, though the police call it a ‘questionable’ death.
Ferguson was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He spent the past three seasons with the team, recording 67 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 passes defensed. He also had one tackle in his lone playoff game.
8. Caleb Swanigan
Caleb Swanigan is a former professional basketball player who was born on April 18, 1997 and passed away on June 20, 2022 at the age of 25 – the cause of death is unknown, but he died at the hospital. He was the 26th overall draft pick by the Portland Trail Blazers back in 2017.
Swanigan spent three seasons in the NBA between the Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings. He averaged 2.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.2 steals, and 0.1 blocks in 8.7 minutes per game (75 games played). He also scored three points in his lone playoff game in 2018.
7. Jeff Gladney
Jeff Gladney is a former professional football player who was born on December 12, 1996 and passed away on May 30, 2022 at the age of 25. He died in a car crash at 2:30 in the morning, along with his 26-year-old girlfriend. The two recently had their first son together in 2021.
Gladney was the 31st overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2020 NFL Draft. He started 15 games for the Vikings that year, recording 81 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, and 3 passes defensed. He recently signed with the Arizona Cardinals in March, prior to his death.
6. Lusia Harris
Lusia Harris is a former professional basketball player who was born on February 10, 1955 and passed away on January 18, 2022 at the age of 66 – she died at a therapy facility. Also known as the ‘Queen of Basketball,’ Harris was one of the early pioneers of women’s basketball.
In fact, she was the only female to ever be drafted into the NBA. She played college basketball at Delta State University, won a silver medal with the United States in the 1975 Olympics, played in the Women’s Professional Basketball League, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
5. Tony Siragusa
Tony Siragusa is a former professional football player who was born on May 14, 1967 and passed away on June 22, 2022 at the age of 55 – he died in his sleep. Siragusa was signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 1990. He was a 330-pound defensive tackle.
Siragusa spent 12 seasons in the NFL, seven with the Colts and five with the Baltimore Ravens. He finished his career with 564 tackles, 22.0 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, and a Super Bowl victory in 2000 with the Ravens. He had 21 tackles in 8 playoff games played.
4. Bob Lanier
Bob Lanier is a former professional basketball player who was born on September 10, 1948 and passed away on May 10, 2022 at the age of 73 – he died of a brief illness. He was the first overall draft pick by the Detroit Pistons in 1970 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
Lanier spent 14 seasons in the NBA with the Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks. He was an eight-time All-Star and 1973-74 All-Star MVP. During his 14-year career, he averaged 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.5 blocks in 33.5 minutes per game.
3. Charley Taylor
Charley Taylor is a former professional football player who was born on September 28, 1941 and passed away on February 19, 2022 at the age of 80 – cause of death is unknown. He was the third overall draft pick by the Washington Commanders (then-Redskins) in the 1964 draft.
Taylor spent 13 seasons in the NFL – all of which with Washington. He won Rookie of the Year in 1964 with 814 receiving yards, 755 rushing yards, and 10 total touchdowns. The eight-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer finished his career with 10,598 total yards and 90 touchdowns.
2. Jeremy Giambi
Jeremy Giambi is a former professional baseball player who was born September 30, 1974 and passed away on February 9, 2022 at the age of 47 – his death was ruled a suicide. He made his major league debut on September 1, 1998 and played his final MLB game on August 1, 2003.
During his six-year career, Giambi batted .263 with 372 hits, 75 doubles, 3 triples, 52 home runs, 209 runs batted in, and 219 runs scored. He spent time with the Athletics, Royals, Phillies, and Red Sox. He was portrayed in the book and film Moneyline, and also admitted to using steroids.
1. Dwayne Haskins
Dwayne Haskins is a former professional football player who was born on May 3, 1997 and passed away on April 9, 2022 at the age of 24 – he was fatally struck by a vehicle. His death shocked the NFL community as he was getting ready to fight for a starting QB position.
Haskins was drafted 15th overall by the Washington Commanders in 2019, but struggled to find his way in the NFL. He spent the 2021 season as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ third string QB and was set to fight for playing time. At just 24-years-old, he had his entire career ahead of him.
We Hope These Athletes Rest in Peace
Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the friends and families of those that passed away this year. We’re only halfway through 2022, so there will undoubtedly be more athletes to pass away – which means it’s important now more than ever to show your love and support.
Some of the other athletes that have passed away in 2022 are Julio Cruz, Don Maynard, Bob Babich, Gerald Williams, Jeff Innis, Larry Bittner, Jim Corsi, Odell Barry, Billy Waddy, Ralph Neely, Dan Reeves, Odalis Perez, Lionel James, Scott Hall, and Gino Cappelletti.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Most Inspirational Athletes in 2022
While some athletes pass away after having lived a full life, others aren’t as fortunate and might pass away far too soon. What’s most important is that we live each day like it could be our last. Appreciate each day for what it is and make the most of the opportunities you’re given everyday.
Sports Legends We Lost in 2021
Every year, we witness a new class of sports legends make a name for themselves in their respective sport. At the same time, we must say goodbye to other sports legends that pass away – some due to natural causes, others due to tragic events. It’s the circle of life.
With the new year well underway, there’s no better time to remember some of the greatest sports legends that we lost in 2021. They might be gone too soon, but they’ll never be forgotten as they helped change the landscape of the sports community for generations to come.
It’s also an excellent opportunity to think about all the other people we lost this past year. With the COVID-19 pandemic creating far more tragedy than anticipated, it seems like we’re losing prominent figures in the sports world every day – so let’s take a moment of silence for them.
RELATED: 20 Overrated Athletes of 2021
Which Sports Legends Passed Away in 2021?
In 2021, we saw goodbye to a number of influential and talented athletes, coaches, general managers, owners, broadcasters, and more. In fact, we lost so many sports legends that we won’t be able to highlight all of them in one post – but, don’t worry, we’re going to do our best.
Before we begin, let’s take a second to look back at some of the sports legends we lost in 2020 – a list that includes David Stern, Kobe Bryant, John Thompson, Don Shula, Gale Sayers, Curly Neal, Tom Seaver, Diego Maradona, Kevin Greene, Tarvaris Jackson, and more.
Now as we enter 2022, we must not only remember the sports legends that are no longer here, but prepare ourselves for more heartbreak as the world continues to spin. As always, we wish everyone health and prosperity – not just for yourself, but for those that you love and support.
20. Mark Eaton
Mark Eaton was born on January 24, 1957 and died on May 28, 2021 at the age of 64. The cause of death was a bicycle accident. He was a legendary, 7-foot-4-inch player that was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the fifth round – he spent his entire 11-year career with the team.
Throughout his career, Eaton was a one-time All-Star, five-time All-Defensive player, was named Defensive Player of the Year twice, and led the league in blocked shots four times. His career-high 5.6 blocks per game (456 total blocks) in 1984-85 remains an all-time record.
19. Leon Spinks
Leon Spinks was born on July 11, 1953 and died on February 5, 2021 at the age of 67. The cause of death was prostate cancer. He made his professional boxing debut in 1977 and fought in 46 professional bouts over the next 18 years. His professional record was 26-17-3 (14 KOs).
Spinks was most known for defeating the great Muhammad Ali in 1978 – it was Spinks’ eighth pro fight and is regarded as the biggest upset in boxing history. That win earned him the heavyweight championship. He also won a Gold Medal at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games.
18. Don Sutton
Don Sutton was born on April 2, 1945 and died on January 19, 2021 at the age of 75. The cause of death was kidney cancer. The Hall-of-Fame pitcher spent a total of 23 seasons in the MLB from 1966-1988, spending 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers up until 1981.
In 774 major league games and 5,282.1 innings pitched, Sutton went 324-256 with a 3.26 ERA and 3,574 strikeouts. He pitched 178 complete games and 58 shutouts in his career. After retiring as a player, Sutton became a widely-respected television sports broadcaster.
17. Julio Lugo
Julio Lugo was born on November 16, 1975 and died on November 15, 2021 – one day before his 46th birthday. The cause of death was a heart attack. Throughout his 12-year MLB career, he was a shortstop for the Red Sox, Astros, Rays, Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves, and Orioles.
In 1,352 career games, Lugo batted .269 with 80 home runs, 475 runs batted in, 688 runs scored, and 198 stolen bases. He was a member of the 2007 Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series, a season where he played 147 games and hit 73 RBIs and scored 71 runs.
16. Colt Brennan
Colt Brennan was born on August 16, 1983 and died on May 11, 2021 at the age of 37. The cause of death was a fentanyl overdose. Although he never played a snap in a regular season NFL game, the quarterback enjoyed a legendary college career at University of Hawaii.
In three years at Hawaii, Brennan threw for 14,193 yards, 131 touchdowns, and 42 interceptions – he completed 70.4% of his passes. He holds an NCAA record with 20 games of 400 yards or more. He threw for 58 touchdowns in 2006 and was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2007.
15. Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson was born on January 14, 1983 and died on February 15, 2021 at the age of 38. The cause of death was chronic alcohol use. He spent 12 seasons in the NFL as a receiver for the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was a three-time Pro Bowl player.
Jackson was one of the most reliable receivers between 2008-2014. In that span, he had six seasons with 1,000+ yards – including a career-high 1,384 yards in 2012. He finished his career with 540 receptions, 9,080 receiving yards, and 57 receiving touchdowns in 155 games.
14. Pedro Gomez
Pedro Gomez was born on August 20, 1962 and died on February 7, 2021 at the age of 58. The cause of death was a heart attack. He goes down as one of the most respected and decorated baseball journalists of all-time. He was a reporter for ESPN from 2003 up until his death in 2021.
Gomez was so respected in the baseball community that he served as a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America – the group responsible for casting Hall-of-Fame votes. Throughout his journalism career, he covered 25 World Series and 22 All-Star games.
13. Tommy Lasorda
Tommy Lasorda was born on September 22, 1927 and died on January 7, 2021 at the age of 93. The cause of death was sudden cardiac arrest after years of heart issues. Although he only played three seasons in the MLB, he went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career as a manager.
Lasorda spent four years as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ third base coach before being named manager in 1976. Over the next 20 years, he led the Dodgers to a 1,599-1,439 regular season record. He won Manager of the Year twice and led the Dodgers to two World Series wins.
12. Sam Huff
Sam Huff was born on October 4, 1934 and died on November 13, 2021 at the age of 87. He died in the hospital after being diagnosed with dementia in 2013. The linebacker spent 13 seasons in the NFL – eight with the New York Giants and five with the Washington Redskins.
Huff was inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a five-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro player, one-time NFL champion, and a member of the HOF All-1950s Team. He had 30 interceptions and 29.0 sacks (since 1960) in his career.
11. Al Unser & Bobby Unser
Al Unser Sr. was born on May 29, 1939 and died on December 9, 2021 at the age of 82. The cause of death was liver cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2004. He’s a four-time winner of the Indy 500 (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987), something that’s only been done by three other men.
Bobby Unser, the older brother of Al, was born on February 20, 1934 and died on May 2, 2021 – seven months before his younger brother. He won the Indy 500 three times in his career and did it in three different decades (1968, 1975, 1981). They’re the only brothers to both win the 500.
10. Floyd Little
Floyd Little was born on July 4, 1942 and died on January 1, 2021 at the age of 78. He died after a fight with cancer. At Syracuse University, he rushed for 2,750 yards and 35 touchdowns over three seasons – adding 591 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns in that span.
He was then drafted by the Denver Broncos with the sixth overall pick in 1967, where he spent his entire nine-year career. He rushed for 6,323 yards and 43 touchdowns in that span, with a career-high 1,133 yards in 1971 and career-high 13 total touchdowns in 1972 and 1973.
9. Jerry Remy
Jerry Remy was born on November 8, 1952 and died on October 30, 2021 at the age of 68. The cause of death was lung cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2008. He’s a legend in the Red Sox community, having spent four decades with the team as a player and broadcaster.
After three years with the California Angels to begin his MLB career, Remy spent the final seven years of his career with the Red Sox – hitting 211 RBIs and scoring 385 runs in that span. He then spent 33 years as color commentator for the Red Sox, all the way up until his death.
8. Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Marvin Hagler, who legally changed his name to Marvelous Marvin Hagler in 1982, was born on May 23, 1954 and died on March 13, 2021 at the age of 66. He died of natural causes. Hagler will go down as one of the greatest boxers of all-time – he fought in the middleweight division.
Throughout his 15-year professional career from 1973-1987, Hagler went 62-3 and finished 52 of his fights by way of knockout. He was named the undisputed middleweight champion in 1980 and defended his title 12 consecutive times (11 by knockout), finally retiring from boxing in 1987.
7. Terry Donahue
Terry Donahue was born on June 24, 1944 and died on July 4, 2021 at the age of 77. He died after a two-year battle with cancer. Throughout his 20+ year career in football, he served as a head coach, general manager, and broadcaster. He certainly left his mark on the game.
Donahue led the UCLA Bruins to a 151-74-8 record from 1976-1995. His 151 wins are the most in campus history and his 98 Pac-10 wins are the most in Pac-10 history. He’s the first coach to win seven consecutive bowl games. He also served as GM of the San Francisco 49ers.
6. Marty Schottenheimer
Marty Schottenheimer was born on September 23, 1943 and died on February 8, 2021 at the age of 77. He died after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He spent six years in the NFL as a player before pursuing a coaching career in 1974 with the Portland Storm.
After stints as linebackers coach and defensive coordinator in the NFL, he finally earned a head coaching role with the Browns in 1984. Over the next 22 years, he had a 205-139-1 record as coach of the Browns, Chiefs, Redskins, and Chargers. He has the eight-most wins all-time.
5. Bobby Bowden
Bobby Bowden was born on November 8, 1929 and died on August 8, 2021 at the age of 91. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. Bowden is regarded as one of the greatest college football head coaches ever and currently ranks second all-time with 377 wins as head coach.
Between 1976 and 2009, Bowden led the Florida State Seminoles to a 304-97-4 record – including 10 conference titles between 1992-2005 and two National Championships in 1993 and 1999. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a head coach in 2006.
4. Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius Thomas was born on December 25, 1987 and died on December 9, 2021 at the age of 33. He died in his home due to injury complications from a 2019 car accident. He is forever remembered as one of the greatest wide receivers in Denver Broncos’ franchise history.
After an impressive career at Georgia Tech, Thomas was drafted 22nd overall by the Broncos in 2010. He spent the next 8.5 seasons with the team, recording 665 receptions, 9,055 yards, and 60 touchdowns over that span. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and 2015 Super Bowl champ.
3. Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor was born on September 16, 1934 and died on March 22, 2021 at the age of 86. He died of natural causes. Baylor is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time and was the first overall pick by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958. He won Rookie of the Year that season.
He spent his entire 14-year career with the Lakers, scoring at least 24 points per game in 11 of his first 12 seasons. He averaged 34+ points per game in three consecutive seasons, including a career-high 38.3 points per game in 1961. He was an 11-time All-Star and Hall-of-Famer.
2. Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron was born on February 5, 1934 and died on January 22, 2021 at the age of 86. He died of natural causes. He will go down as one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, playing 23 MLB seasons with the Milwaukee Braves, Atlanta Braves, and Milwaukee Brewers.
Aaron holds the all-time record for most runs batted in (2,297), as well as total bases (6,856). He led the league in home runs four times in his career and his 755 career home runs ranks second all-time. He was a 21-time All-Star, one-time champion, one-time MVP, and Hall-of-Famer.
1. John Madden
John Madden was born on April 10, 1936 and died on December 28, 2021 at the age of 85. He is one of the greatest personalities the NFL has ever seen, spending 40 years in the league – 10 as the Raiders’ head coach and 30 as a color commentator for CBS, FOX, ABC, and NBC.
In his 10 years with Oakland, Madden went 103-32-7 (the second-highest winning percentage in NFL history). He made it to the playoffs eight years, the AFC Championship game seven times (five consecutive), and won the 1976 Super Bowl. He revolutionized the game as a broadcaster.
Other Celebrities & Sports Legends We Lost in 2021
As we reminisce about some of the sports legends we lost in 2021, we should also take a moment to remember some of the other legends that are no longer with us as we welcome 2022 into our lives. From actors to artists and fashion designers, we lost some greats this past year.
Some of the celebrities that we lost in 2021 include Betty White, Virgil Abloh, Young Dolph, DMX, Norm Macdonald, Biz Markie, Larry King, Dustin Diamond, George Segal, Cicely Tyson, Charlie Watts, Richard Donner, Christopher Plummer, and Prince Philip.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 20 of the Best Sports Tattoos You’ll Ever See
We sincerely hope that 2022 is a much better year for everyone than 2021 was. The past few years might seem like a blur, especially with all the tragedy we’ve been dealt, but that doesn’t mean the world has to come to a halt. Prosperity and happiness is right around the corner!
At The Buzzer, or ATB is the place for those who love sports, life, family, community, and so much more. We are far from the run-of-the-mill 24/7 sports news websites. We not only bring you what’s happening in the world of sports in terms of trades and breaking news, but we also bring you the news that goes on behind the scenes, like big life moments, and so much more. So take a minute and read one of our articles, we promise you won't regret it.