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15 NBA Players Who Died During Their Careers

There are few things as shocking as when a professional athlete passes away during their career. Athletes commit their life to a healthy and fit lifestyle where they exercise every single day, so to see them pass away at such a young age is truly tragic and it serves a reminder as to how fragile life can be. Throughout NBA history there have unfortunately been a number of different instances where players have died during their career. This is shocking for fans of the entire sport, the league, the team for which they play, coaching staff and teammates. It of course impacts nobody more than the family, friends and loved ones of the individual. These athletes are never forgotten in the sport that they loved, and their impact can still be felt around the league today.

The causes of these tragic deaths will always differ, and much like real life it will often be completely unexpected and unpreventable. Some athletes carry heart defects which are only identified after they unfortunately pass away, and across all sports you are now seeing more testing being carried out to pick up on these defects so that they can be properly treated. Not all of these tragic deaths are related to underlying health issues however, and there have been some cases of sudden accidents, drug use and suicide. Life can be cruel and shocking, and sometimes we put athletes on such a pedestal that we forget that they are in fact human after all.

Here are 15 NBA players who passed away during their careers. They may be gone, but they are certainly not forgotten.

15 Fernando Martin

via somosbasket.com

14 Terry Furlow

via gazettanba.com

13 Conrad McRae

via sport.ro

12 Robert Traylor

via nydailynews.com

11 Pete Maravich

via espn.com

10 Bobby Phills

via performgroup.com

9 Jason Collier

JOEY IVANSCO/AJC Staff

8 Lorenzen Wright

via thegrio.com

7 Nick Vanos

Phoenix Gazette photo by Bob Leiby

6 Malik Sealy

via bleacherreport.net

5 Ricky Berry

via sbnation.com

4 Eddie Griffin

via grantland.com

The shocking and tragic story of Eddie Griffin’s death stunned the entire NBA and sporting world. The standout performer at college was touted to be one of the next great players in the NBA, but he was clearly a troubled soul and this would plague his NBA career. He started his career brightly in Houston, but he struggled with alcoholism which caused him to miss the entire 2003-04 season as he entered rehab. He was picked up by the Timberwolves in 2004 and began to show promise, but in 2006 he crashed his car whilst intoxicated and would be later released by the Timberwolves.

3 Reggie Lewis

via espn.com

2 Drazen Petrovic

via nba.com

1 Len Bias

via bet.com

Nearly 30 years after his tragic death, there are still “what if?” questions surrounding Len Bias. The star coming out of Maryland was touted to be one of the greats and was said to be the “closest thing to Michael Jordan.” Bias was then selected with the 2nd pick in the 1986 draft by the Celtics, but he would unfortunately never grace the hardwood in the NBA. Just two days after the draft, Bias was back on campus at Maryland and would pass away from a cardiac arrhythmia induced by a cocaine overdose. He has been inducted into the Maryland Hall of Fame and Boston hung his jersey from the rafters, making him the only player to have his jersey retired without playing an NBA game.

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15 NBA Players Who Died During Their Careers