10 Most Shocking Deaths in Sports History

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Athletes are some of the toughest and strongest people among us, but they are definitely not immune from the dangers, health problems and temptations the rest of the population faces. These seemingly untouchable figures also suffer from heart attacks, get in car accidents, engage in violence and overdose on drugs. But the shock value tends to increase with every healthy athlete that collapses on the court, or commits suicide because of debt. Here are the 10 most shocking deaths in sports history:

  1. Len Bias: Len Bias was an All-American college basketball player at the University of Maryland, and was the second overall pick by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA draft. Just two days after receiving this exciting news, the 22-year-old was found dead in his dorm room. Bias died from cardiac arrhythmia caused by a cocaine overdose.
  2. Kenny McKinley: Kenny McKinley was a record-breaking college football star and a second-year player for the Denver Broncos. The rookie played in eight games during the 2009 season, before being placed on the injured reserve list for a knee injury. McKinley shocked NFL fans and his entire team when he committed suicide at his Colorado home on Sept. 20, 2010. The 23-year-old had been depressed after suffering a season-ending knee injury and undergoing surgery, and was also deep in debt.
  3. Dale Earnhardt: Dale Earnhardt was one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time, winning 76 races and seven NASCAR championships. The aggressive driver, who was nicknamed "The Intimidator," stunned the world when his car struck a wall at 180 miles per hour during the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001. EMTs removed Earnhardt from his car and took him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Earnhardt suffered a basilar skull fracture from the crash and reportedly had a torn seatbelt inside his car.
  4. Chris Henry: Chris Henry was a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals and was best known for his off-the-field problems that led to several suspensions. On Dec. 16, 2009, Henry was involved in a car accident that took his life. He died after falling out of the bed of a moving truck driven by his fiancée Loleini Tonga. He suffered blunt force trauma to the head and was pronounced dead at the hospital. No charges were filed against Tonga because police found no evidence that she was driving recklessly or speeding.
  5. Lorenzen Wright: Lorenzen Wright was a power forward/center for several NBA teams from 1996 to 2009. In July 2010, the basketball star went missing after he was last seen leaving his ex-wife's home in Collierville, Tennessee. Wright's family filed a missing person report, and his body was found 10 days later in a wooded area. Reports show that a 911 call was made from Wright's cell phone as gun shots went off in the background. The police did not link the call and Wright's disappearance together until after his body was found in what they believe was a homicide.
  6. Nodar Kumaritashvili: Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, made his Olympic debut at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Hours before the opening ceremonies were scheduled to start, Kumaritashvili was doing a training run at Whistler Sliding Center when he lost control of his luge and crashed at high speed, striking an unpadded steel support pole. Rescue workers tried to revive Kumaritashvili at the scene of the accident, but he was airlifted to a nearby trauma center where he died from his severe injuries.
  7. Antonio Pettigrew: Antonio Pettigrew was an accomplished sprinter best known for winning the gold medal in the 4×400-meter relay at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, and having the medal stripped away in 2008, after he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs since 1997. Sadly, Pettigrew was found dead in his locked car after overdosing on sleeping medication on Aug. 10, 2010. The autopsy report said diphenhydramine toxicity was the cause of death.
  8. Reggie Lewis: Reggie Lewis was the captain and top scorer of the Boston Celtics from 1987 to 1993. During an off-season practice, Lewis suddenly collapsed on the court and suffered from sudden cardiac death. This wasn't the first time the 27-year-old had shown symptoms of heart problems. Three months earlier, Lewis had collapsed during a playoff game against the Charlotte Hornets, and was diagnosed by a team of cardiologists with cardiomyopathy, a serious disease that weakens and enlarges the heart muscle and makes it harder to pump blood throughout the body.
  9. Nick Adenhart: Nick Adenhart, 22, was a young pitching prospect who made his Major League debut with the Anaheim Angels. On April 8, 2009, Adenhart opened the season as the third starting pitcher. That game, he earned a no-decision, striking out five batters, giving up seven hits, three walks and no runs in six scoreless innings. Later that night, Adenhart and two others were tragically killed in a car crash after leaving a nightclub. The car Adenhart was in was struck by a drunk driver who fled the scene of the crash. Adenhart died at the hospital from his injuries.
  10. Bob Probert: Bob Probert was a professional hockey player for the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks from 1985 to 2002. Probert was known as an enforcer who got into many fights on the ice. The tough guy formally retired during the 2002-2003 offseason and had a slew of legal problems. On July 5, 2010, Probert suddenly collapsed on a boat on Lake St. Clair, Ontario, after experiencing severe chest pains. His family was aboard the boat and his father-in-law attempted CPR to revive Probert. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead from a fatal heart attack.
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