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20 Star Athletes Who Were Taken Too Soon

As the 80s band Cinderella told us - sometimes you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. The athletes we know and love bleed like the rest of us, and when their time is up on this earth we struggle to comprehend that these freak incidents happen to the young, talented and wealthy. They are only human after all.

Whether it’s through an undiagnosed disease, a random accident on the road or in the air, or a result of a viscous murder, the end result of losing someone doesn’t heal the scars any quicker. In some cases we can consider ourselves fortunate that we had the chance to witness their whole careers and it’s not until after they retire that the cruel hand of fate shows itself.

It is often the people we lose incredibly young that we despair the most. Athletes like Jasper Howard and Ben Wilson had their whole lives ahead of them and more than likely would have gone on to set records in the NBA and NFL respectfully. For a myriad of different reasons, they are no longer here and the best we can do as fans is preserve their memory.

Death is the most difficult subject to confront, but honoring those we came to love and enjoy is important. Perhaps there are other athletes lost before their time who deserve the recognition, but these are the top 20 who left us way too soon.

20 Bill Masterton

via habseyesontheprize.com

19 Junior Malanda

via independent.co.uk

18 Ben Wilson

via en.wikipedia.org

17 Jonah Lomu

via goodthingsguy.com

16 Drazen Petrovic

via espn.go.com

15 Jerry Collins

via independent.co.uk

14 Chuck Hughes

via sports.yahoo.com

13 Sarah Burke

via extremeelite.com

12 Joe Roth

via eccalifornian.com

11 Senzo Meyiwa

via enca.com

10 Antonio Puerta

via estadiodeportivo.com

9 Ed Sanders

via oztypewriter.blogspot.com

8 Payne Stewart

voa usatoday.com

7 Len Bias

via bet.com

6 Jasper Howard

via nydailynews.com

5 Derrick Thomas

via nfl.com

4 Robert Enke

via fabuloussavers.com

3 Phillip Hughes

via mirror.co.uk

2 Pat Tillman

via maguzz.com

1 Ayrton Senna

Pascal Rondeau/Allsport

It’s the death caught on camera and a moment in sports that people struggle to comprehend even to this day. The Brazilian legend had a stellar career throughout the 1980s and 1990s, taking multiple titles and winning the hearts and minds of racing fans around the globe. His status in 1994 had never been higher and when his car hit the barrier in the San Marino Grand Prix that year, most were expecting that he’d jump out the side and brush off his bumps and bruises. But the 34-year old never did, unable to recover from the severe skull fracture and brain injuries sustained from the crash.

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20 Star Athletes Who Were Taken Too Soon