Junior Seau, a decorated 20-year NFL linebacker who retired in 2010, was pronounced dead in his Oceanside, Calif., home on May 2, in what police were calling an apparent suicide. His girlfriend discovered his body in bed that morning after she returned from the gym. Seau, who played for his hometown San Diego Chargers and the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, was voted to a Chargers-record 12 straight Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro six times.
2 of 84Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Alexander Dale Oen
Just as it was moving past the death of Fran Crippen, the swimming world lost another star prematurely. Norway's Alexander Dale Oen, reigning world champion in the 100-meter breaststroke, died April 30, 2012 of cardiac arrest at a training camp in Flagstaff, Ariz. Dale Oen won the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in the 100-meter breaststroke, finishing second to breaststroke prodigy Kosuke Kitajima, and was a favorite to medal, if not win, the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2012 Olympics in London.
3 of 84Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images, Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Top superpipe skier Sarah Burke died nine days after crashing during a training run in Park City, Utah. The four-time Winter X Games champion was considered one of the pioneers for her sport, and she worked to get her event into the Winter Olympics program. Oddly, the halfpipe on which she crashed was the same halfpipe Kevin Pearce crashed on just over two years ago.
4 of 84Sue Ogrocki/AP
Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed Nov. 17 when a single-engine plane carrying them to a recruiting trip crashed in central Arkansas. In January 2001, 10 men affiliated with the school's men's basketball team died in a plane crash in Colorado.
5 of 84John Sommers II/Reuters
The two-time Indy 500 winner died in a fiery crash at the season-ending Las Vegas Indy 300. Wheldon, 33, was part of a 15-car pileup at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his car going airborne on Lap 11. He was airlifted to a local hospital, and about two hours later his colleagues were informed of his death. Wheldon, born in Britain, was the first IndyCar driver to die on the track since rookie Paul Dana was killed in practice on the morning of race day at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2006. In addition to winning the 2005 and 2011 Indy 500s, Wheldon was the 2005 IndyCar Series champion and amassed 16 wins on the circuit in his career.
6 of 84Handout/EPA
KHL's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Team
A Russian jet carrying the Kontinental Hockey League team crashed while taking off, killing at least 43 people and leaving two others critically injured, officials said. It was one of the worst plane crashes ever involving a sports team. The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the Yak-42 plane crashed into a riverbank on the Volga River immediately after leaving an airport near the western city of Yaroslavl, 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow. It was sunny at the time. It said the plane was carrying the Lokomotiv ice hockey team from Yaroslavl to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where the team was to play the next day against Dinamo Minsk in the opening game of the season of the KHL. The plane had 45 people on board, including 37 passengers and eight crew. Coach Brad McCrimmon, forward Pavol Demitra, forward Josef Vasicek, defenseman Karel Rachunek, forward Jan Marek and forward Alexander Vasyunov are among the confirmed fatalities.
7 of 84Frederick Breedon/AP
The former winger, who played 549 career games for five NHL teams from 1997 to March 2011, was found dead at a hotel-condominium complex in Toronto. While no official cause of death was immediately released, it was reported in Canadian media that Belak was an apparent suicide by hanging. He was the third NHL enforcer to die suddenly during the summer of 2011, raising the spectre of the effects of fighting on the brain and a possible link to depression.
8 of 84Jimmy Jeong/AP
Rypien was found dead in his Alberta home in August 2011. There was no immediate word on the cause of death. Rypien, who was 27, spent parts of six seasons with the Canucks organization. He played only nine games with Vancouver last season and spent most of the year dealing with personal issues. Rypien signed a one-year deal with the Jets worth $700,000. He had nine goals, seven assists and 226 penalty minutes over 119 career NHL games with the Canucks.
9 of 84John Biever/SI
Former major league pitcher Hideki Irabu, who played for the New York Yankees, Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers over six seasons, was found dead in his California home in July 2011. Police were reportedly investigating it as a suicide.
10 of 84Al Tielemans/SI/Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA
Jeret "Speedy" Peterson
Peterson was known for his ultimate highs -- non higher than his Olympic silver-medal-winning performance in 2010 -- and his even more frequent ultimate lows. The three-time Olympic aerials skier was found dead in a remote canyon in Utah in what police called a suicide. Peterson, whose signature trick, "The Hurricane," symbolized his lifestyle, called 911 before shooting himself, police said. He had been cited for drunken driving in his native Idaho and had pleaded not guilty the previous week.
11 of 84Bill Frakes/SI
Best known for the dunk off a missed three-pointer that gave North Carolina State a stunning upset over the heavily favored Houston Cougars, Lorenzo Charles died at age 47 in a bus crash. The 6'9 forward had a standout collegiate career and brief NBA success. The NCAA title-game finish is still considered to be one of the most exciting in basketball's history.
12 of 84Kevork Djansezian/AP
Dydek, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 WNBA draft, died at age 37 after suffering a heart attack. The 7-foot-2 Dydek led the WNBA in blocks nine times -- from 1998 to 2003 and again from 2005-07 -- and retired in 2008 as the WNBA's all-time leader in blocked shots.
13 of 84Jim Prisching/Getty Images; Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images
The first Kenyan to win gold in the Olympic marathon, Wanjiru died at age 24 after a fall from a balcony. There are conflicting reports as to why Wanjiru jumped from the balcony, but reports say it followed a domestic dispute. Police say foul play is not suspected.
14 of 84Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images; Lou Capozzola/SI
The 28-year-old enforcer for the New York Rangers was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment. The cause of death remains unknown as of May 16 and an autopsy has been ordered. Boogaard suffered a season-ending concussion on Dec. 9, and his family plans to donate his brain to Boston University researchers who are studying brain disease in athletes.
15 of 84AP
Robert "Tractor" Traylor
The former NBA and University of Michigan player was found dead in his apartment in Puerto Rico -- where he had been playing with the Bayamon Cowboys -- after suffering an apparent heart attack. He was 34.
16 of 84Eric Lalmand/EPA
The 26-year-old Belgian cyclist died after a downhill crash in which he lost control of his bike in a mountain pass during the third stage of the Giro d'Italia.
17 of 84Benjamin Thouard/DPPI/Icon SMI
The professional surfer died on Nov. 2, 2010, in Dallas at the age of 32. He reportedly was battling with dengue fever at the time, but officials have not yet given a precise cause of death.
18 of 84Matt Riley/Virginia Athletics; Steve Helber/AP
Love was a senior lacrosse player for the University of Virginia who was found in dead in her apartment in Charlottesville. Love's boyfriend at the time, another UVA Lacrosse player, George Huguely, was arrested and later charged with Love's murder. The entire incident sent shockwaves across the country.
19 of 84Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
The Georgian luger died in a fatal crash during a training run for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.
20 of 84Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2007 draft died the morning of Jan. 17, 2010, from cardiac arrest. An autopsy revealed that Adams had an enlarged heart, a condition he was not aware of.
21 of 84David Bergman/SI
The Bengals wide receiver died when he fell out of a moving truck driven by his fiancee while the two were engaged in a domestic dispute.
22 of 84Arthur Anderson/Icon SMI
Howard, a cornerback for the University of Connecticut, died when he was stabbed outside of a UCONN function only hours after the team's victory over Louisville.
23 of 84Bob Rosato/SI
The 36-year-old former Titans and Ravens quarterback was found dead in his Nashville condo after being shot multiple times. Sahel Kazemi, a young woman McNair had been dating for months prior to the incident, was also found dead. Nashville police ruled that she perpetrated a murder-suicide.
24 of 84AP
The 22-year-old Angels hurler was killed by a hit-and-run driver just hours after throwing six shutout innings in his season debut.
25 of 84Al Tielemans/SI
The fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft, Taylor died from critical injuries sustained during a burglary of his home in Palmetto Bay, Fla.
26 of 84Greg Nelson/SI
The seventh overall pick in the 2001 draft died when he crashed his car into a moving train in Houston. Griffin's autopsy determined his blood-alcohol level was .26, more than three times Texas' legal limit.
27 of 84AP
The Cardinals reliever was killed on April 29, 2007, when the Ford Explorer he was driving crashed into the rear of a flat bed tow truck that was assisting another vehicle.
28 of 84Lynn Johnson/SI
Bluffton University baseball players
Five members of the Bluffton University baseball team died when the team's bus fell from an overpass in Atlanta.
29 of 84Brian Bahr/Getty Images
The 27-year-old Broncos cornerback was shot and killed in a drive-by-shooting less than 12 hours after the Broncos played the final game of their 2006 season.
30 of 84Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, an avid pilot, died when a small plane he was piloting crashed into an apartment building in Manhattan.
31 of 84AP
The 1980 NL Rookie of the year, Howe died when his pickup truck rolled over in Coachella, Calif.
32 of 84AP
The second overall pick in the '97 NFL draft, Russell was killed when the car he was in crashed into a parked bus.
33 of 84Andy Hayt, Bob Rosato/SI
One of the greatest defensive ends ever, White's death from a heart attack stunned the football community. The 10-time Pro Bowl defender and former Eagle, Packer and Panther was rated by NFL.com as the seventh greatest player ever. White died at 43.
34 of 84Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The 25-year-old Atlanta Thrashers forward was killed when a speeding car driven by teammate Dany Heatley went out of control near Atlanta, spun off the road and crashed into a brick-and-iron fence. Snyder was ejected from the passenger seat as the car was torn in half. Heatley was charged with vehicular homicide, but later forgiven by Snyder's family.
35 of 84Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
The 66-year-old former coach best known for leading the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to the gold medal died in a single car accident. Police said they believe he fell asleep behind the wheel.
36 of 84Elsa/Getty Images
The St. Louis Cardinals pitcher died of coronary disease in Chicago, Ill., a day before he was supposed to pitch in a nationally televised game. He was the first active major-league player to die during the season since Thurman Munson in 1979.
37 of 84Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Stringer, a standout Vikings offensive lineman, died from complications brought on by heat stroke at the Vikings training camp in 2001. His death brought awareness to the dangers of heat stroke, and encouraged NFL teams to make major changes to their training camp policies.
38 of 84Dozier Mobley/Getty Images
February 2011 marked the 10-year anniversary of Earnhardt's untimely death during the last lap of the Daytona 500. In 2010, "The Intimidator" was posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
39 of 84AP
Nate Fleming and Dan Lawson
Players Nate Fleming and Dan Lawson and six officials associated with Oklahoma State's men's basketball team died when their plane went down in Byers, Colo.
40 of 84David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
The 30-year-old NBA player was killed when a drunk driver travelling the wrong way on the highway collided with his SUV. Sealy, then with the Timberwolves, was returning from a birthday celebration for Kevin Garnett. The drunk driver pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and received a four-year prison sentence.
41 of 84George Tiedemann/sI
The fourth-generation NASCAR driver died when his car struck a wall at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His death, caused by a stuck throttle, led NASCAR to mandate the implementation of steering-wheel mounted kill switches.
42 of 84AP, Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
A nine-time Pro Bowl pick, Thomas was on his way to Kansas City International Airport, for the NFC Championship Game in St. Louis, when he crashed his Chevy Suburban during a snowstorm on Interstate 435 in Kansas City. Thomas was paralyzed in the accident, but died two weeks later from a pulmonary embolism.
43 of 84AP
The Charlotte Hornets guard died in a car accident after his Porsche spun into oncoming traffic. He was following teammate David Wesley at the time, and there were rumors the two were drag racing. Wesley was cleared on the racing charge but convicted of reckless driving.
44 of 84Carlos Osorio/AP
The Canadian racecar driver competed in the Indy Lights and CART World Series. He was the 1995 Indy Lights series champion and earned five wins and 17 podium finishes as CART driver. On the 10th lap of the Marlboro 500 in Fontana, Calif. -- the final race of the CART season -- Moore was fatally injured in a violent crash. It was only the 24-year-old's fourth season as a CART driver.
45 of 84Simon Bruty/SI
A plane carrying Payne Stewart, winner of the 1989 PGA Championship and a two-time U.S. Open winner, went down two miles west of Mina, S.D.
46 of 84John W. McDonough/SI
The 5-foot-5 Houston Comets point guard succumbed to lung cancer during the 1999 WNBA season. She was the first active player in the WNBA to die. Following her death, the Comets won their third straight WNBA title and posthumously awarded Perrot her third championship ring.
47 of 84 Jim Bourg/Reuters
The Carolina Hurricanes defenseman was killed on impact after crashing his pickup truck after a team party. His blood alcohol content at the time was 0.27, more than three times the legal limit in North Carolina. He was 32.
48 of 84Manny Millan, Andy Hayt/SI
The world-famous track star died tragically of epilepsy at 38. Joyner still holds world records for both the 100 and 200 meters, with times that have not been seriously challenged. Joyner won three gold medals and one silver medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
49 of 84AFP/Getty Images
Indy Car driver Scott Brayton died during a practice run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In his honor, the Scott Brayton Trophy is given out at the Indianapolis 500 to the driver who best exemplifies his spirit and competitive drive.
50 of 84AP
Rodney Culver, a San Diego Chargers running back, was among the 110 killed in the Florida Everglades when a ValuJet crashed.
51 of 84Peter Read Miller/SI
A small plane piloted by former Nebraska quarterback Brook Berringer crashed in Raymond, Neb., two days before the NFL draft.
52 of 84Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Escobar, a Colombian footballer, was shot and killed in Medellin, Colombia, in July 1994. It is widely believed he was murdered as a result of his own goal in the 1994 World Cup.
53 of 84Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images
Ayrton Senna, who won the Formula 1 championship in 1988, '90 and '91, died in a crash while leading the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994 at age 34. The Brazilian is considered one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers ever.
54 of 84AP
The 47-year-old NASCAR driver died on impact in an accident during practice for the Daytona 500. He crashed into the wall nearly head-on after a front tire failure.
55 of 84Manny Millan/SI
The Boston Celtics forward suffered sudden cardiac death at an offseason practice at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
56 of 84AP
NASCAR driver Davey Allison was killed after a helicopter he was piloting crashed on the infield at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
57 of 84John Iacono/SI
One of the first European players to make the move to the NBA, Petrovic died in a car accident on the Autobahn in Germany when he was only 28.
58 of 84Simon Bruty/SI
Zambian soccer team
Zambia's entire national soccer team died in 1993 when a military aircraft carrying them to a World Cup qualifying match crashed into the sea.
59 of 84AP
Alan Kulwicki (right), NASCAR's 1992 champion, was killed in a plane crash in Blountville, Tenn.
60 of 84AP
Tim Crews and Steve Olin
Teammates in Cleveland's bullpen, Tim Crews and Steve Olin (another Indian, Bobby Ojeda, survived) were killed when the boat Crews was piloting crashed into a dock on Little Lake Nellie in Clermont, Fla.
61 of 84Al Messerschmidt/WireImage.com
The two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles died after losing control of his Corvette and crashing into a power pole in Brooksville, Fla. Brown was 27.
62 of 84Tim Defrisco/Getty Images
An illustrious college player at Loyola Marymount, Gathers died a sudden cardiac death on the court during the 1990 West Coast Conference tournament.
63 of 84Manny Millan/SI
The Yankee player and manager was killed on Christmas Day 1989 in a one-car accident in Port Crane, N.Y. At the time of his death, Martin was preparing for his sixth stint as Yankees manager.
64 of 84Manny Millan/Icon SMI
Favorably compared to Michael Jordan throughout his collegiate career, Bias never made it to the NBA. Two days after becoming the second overall pick in the '86 draft, Bias died from cardiac arrhythmia induced by a cocaine overdose.
65 of 84Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images
The Philadelphia Flyers goalie, 26, was killed when the Porsche he was driving while intoxicated hit a wall in Somerdale, N.J., early on a Sunday morning.
66 of 84Getty Images
Formula 1 driver Gilles Villeneuve died in a car crash during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.
67 of 84Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson died in a plane crash in Canton, Ohio.
68 of 84Courtesy of UE Sports Information
University of Evansville basketball players
A plane crash killed 14 University of Evansville basketball players and coach Bobby Watson in Evansville, Ind.
69 of 84AP
The driver nicknamed "Captain Nice" died in the aftermath of a practice-run crash. After hitting the wall following a tire failure, Donohue appeared uninjured other than a headache, but the next day, he fell into a coma from a cerebral hemorrhage and died.
70 of 84James Drake/SI, John Giustina/SI
The runner who helped inspire the running boom of the 1970s was killed after dropping off fellow distance champion Frank Shorter, following a party. Prefontaine swerved to avoid an oncoming car near the University of Oregon and crashed into a rock wall.
71 of 84Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images
The Hall of Fame defenseman played 22 full NHL seasons with Toronto, New York (Rangers), Pittsburgh and Buffalo, winning four Stanley Cups with the Maple Leafs. He was killed in a car crash while reportedly driving more than 100 miles per hour between Toronto and Buffalo on Feb. 21, 1974. Today, Horton is known for the chain of donut shops that bear his name, a corporate conglomerate that grew out of the several modest stores he opened in Canada during his career.
72 of 84Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente died when his plane en route to Nicaragua to aid earthquake victims went down.
73 of 84Neil Leifer/SI
Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were killed by the Black September terrorist group at the Summer Olympics. Competition was suspended following the hostage-taking, the first time the Games had been halted in modern Olympic history.
74 of 84Chris Usher/SI
Marshall University football team
The entire Marshall University football team, including 37 players and 48 others, died when their plane crashed in Huntington, W.Va.
75 of 84Courtesy Wichita State University
Wichita State football players
Fourteen Wichita State football players were killed when their plane crashed in Colorado.
76 of 84Diamond Images/Getty Images
The Chicago Bears running back died at age 26 after an eight-month battle with cancer. The undrafted free agent played four seasons with Chicago and was the subject of the 1971 TV movie Brian's Song (and the 2001 remake by the same name).
77 of 84Hy Peskin/SI
Former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano died in Newton, Iowa, when his plane crashed en route to a birthday party the day before his 46th birthday.
78 of 84Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Masterson died from injuries sustained during a game against the Oakland Seals in Minneapolis, Minn. His injury eventually led the NHL to mandate helmets for players in 1979.
79 of 84Jay Maisel/SI
Tony Lema, 1964 British Open champion, died when the twin-engine plane he was riding in ran out of fuel and crashed in Munster, Ind.
80 of 84Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Chicago Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs died in a plane crash outside of Provo, Utah. Hubbs was piloting the plane and had only received his pilot's license a month earlier.
81 of 84Courtesy of Syracuse University Athletics
The first African-American athlete to win the Heisman Trophy, Davis was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1962 NFL draft, but died from leukemia before he could play a single down in the NFL.
82 of 84Jerry Cooke/SI
U.S. figure skating team
A plane crash claimed 18 members of the U.S. figure skating team -- including Laurence Owen, in Belgium -- along with 43 international officials, judges, coaches, family members and passengers.
83 of 84www.sarahfretwell.com
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo football players
A plane crash killed 16 players of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo football team, a team manager and booster, in Toledo, Ohio. In September 2006 the team was inducted into the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame and Mustang Memorial Plaza (left) was dedicated to those who perished in the crash.
84 of 84AP
Legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne was killed when his plane went down in Kansas. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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