Athletes Who Died Too Young

Learn more about the young athletes who've passed away. They're still in our memories and hearts.
Athletes Who Died Too Young

Last update: 24 January, 2020

It’s always sad news when a sports star fades away but it’s even sadder when there was still a long road ahead. In our post today, we want to remember a handful of famous athletes that died too young and still linger in our hearts.

Incredible athletes that died too young

Some athletes are at the peak of their careers and others have already retired. But, then there are those who died in action or in an accident outside of their sport. Today, this post is for them.

1. Ayrton Senna

The three-time Formula 1 champion from Brazil was one of the fastest drivers in history. He started his racing career in 1984 and in a span of 10 years he raked in 41 victories, 80 podiums, and 19 fastest laps.

However in 1994, when he was just 34 and driving for team Williams, he had an accident that would cost him his life. It happened at the San Marino Grand Prix on the 7th lap: Senna failed to make a turn and drove off the track at 300 km/h.

athletes died too young senna

The impact left him with serious head injuries and he underwent an onsite tracheotomy. Officials transported him to the Bologna hospital via helicopter, where he died several hours later.

2. Florence Griffith Joyner: died too young

Joyner might not be as famous as the other star athletes on our list, but Flo-Jo was the fastest woman in the world. In 1988, she broke two long-standing records: she finished the 100m in 10.49 in the Indianapolis trials; meanwhile, in the Seoul Olympic Games, she finished the 400m in just 21.34.

athletes died too young joyner

After those competitions, Joyner retired from track and field and dedicated herself to business and media appearances. However, in 1998 at just 38, she was found lifeless in her home. The investigations pinned the cause of death down to a severe epileptic convulsion.

3. Young soccer star: Antonio Puerta

Antonio Puerta is one of the most recent tragedies. Having started his professional career in 2004, the soccer player played for Seville as a defender and midfielder.

athletes died too young antonio puerta
Image: Libertad Digital

In August 2007, Puerta suffered from cardiopulmonary arrest right on the pitch during a match against Getafe. Officials took him to the locker rooms, where he fainted several times. Later, he was moved to a local hospital, where he died at just 22 years of age.

4. Marco Simoncelli

Marco Simoncelli was another young driver who died in action during a MotoGP race. Simoncelli, from Italy, debuted in 2002 and took the 250cc world championship title in 2008.

But, in the Sepang, Malaysia circuit in October 2011, the young 24-year-old racer (shown in the featured image) fell off his bike. While on the ground, Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards weren’t able to change their course and ran him over. Simoncelli died after medical officials tried to revive him for 45 long minutes.

5. Alexis Vastine

The French boxer and Olympic medalist from the 2008 Beijing Games died at 28 as a result of a flying accident in Argentina. While filming a reality show, he boarded a helicopter, which later crashed into another.

athletes died too young vastine
Image: Yahoo Noticias

6. Drazen Petrovic: the basketball player that died too young

Drazen Petrovic was one of the most important basketball players from Europe. Born in Croatia in 1964, his playing style landed him in the NBA (being one of the first foreigners to do so). In the US, he played for the Portland Trail Blazers and later for the New Jersey Nets.

athletes died too young petrovic

But, in June 1997, he died in a traffic accident when he was in Croatia, practicing with the national team. A truck and a failure to use his seat belt brought the end to his short 28-year-old life.

Lastly, other athletes we want to remember are: Fernando Martín (soccer), Besik Kudujov (wrestling), Dan Wheldon (motor racing), Marco Pantani (cycling) and Sammy Wanjiru (track and field).

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.