We’re still reeling from the unexpected death of Kobe Bryant (41) in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of his teenage daughter and seven other people.
Sadly, Kobe Bryant isn’t the only star athlete to be taken before their time. Here are 9 other sports legends who passed away far too young.
Dale Earnhardt was 49 years old when he was killed in the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001. His son continues to uphold his legacy on the track.
After a devastating earthquake in Nicaragua in 1972, baseball legend Roberto Clemente wanted to help. Tragically, his plane crashed on the way to deliver aid to the victims. He was 38 years old.
Canadian skier Sarah Burke passed away after what appeared to be a minor fall during training. She went into cardiac arrest and died at the age of 29 in 2012.
Lou Gehrig was just 37 when he died of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The rare disease attacks nerve cells in the brain, causing people who have it to lose control of their muscles. It’s now often called Lou Gehrig’s disease after the baseball legend.
Derrick Thomas, a linebacker with the Kansas City Chiefs, lost control of his vehicle during a snowstorm in 2000. He was left paralyzed and passed away from a pulmonary embolism two weeks after the accident.
Pro golfer Payne Stewart passed away in 1999 at the age of 42. Fresh off his second U.S. Open win, Stewart was flying from Florida to a tournament in Texas when the chartered Learjet failed to pressurize, killing all six people on board.
In 1979, Yankees catcher Thurman Munson was practicing flying his private jet when he crashed. The American League MVP was just 32 years old.
Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine inspired a generation to take to the track. Sadly, he passed away in a car accident in 1975 at the age of 25.
Another Chiefs player gone way too soon, Joe Delaney died in 1983 when he tried to save three children who were drowning. He managed to save one of the kids, but sadly he passed away at the age of 24 during his heroic act.