There have been many tragic deaths in the sports world over the years, and most of the athletes died before their time. This week, we lost another great athlete who died before he should have, and it is a great loss to the sports community.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead Monday, Sept. 20, 2010. McKinley was found dead in his apartment from what authorities believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. McKinley was only 23, but he showed a lot of potential on the football field as well as in his personal life. McKinley was placed on season-ending injured reserve before the start of the 2010 season and had been plagued with injuries ever since he was drafted. The death of McKinley is tragic because he leaves behind a young child who will dearly miss him.
One brave athlete who sticks out in my mind who died too young was Pat Tillman, who was just 27. Tillman played in the National Football League but, after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, he enlisted in the United States Army. According to ESPN, Tillman turned down over $3 million from the Arizona Cardinals because he felt it was his duty to serve his country in a different way.
Tillman was deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he ultimately died. Tillman was killed in a friendly fire attack on April 22, 2004, while on patrol. Tillman will live on as someone who put his country before himself and who was a hero on the football field and in combat. Tillman is thought of today as one of the nation’s heroes in the war on terrorism for his bravery and honesty.
Chris Henry, the troubled young wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, is also a professional athlete who met his demise way too early. According to ESPN, 26-year-old Henry died in December 2009, just days after falling out of the back of a truck. Henry had gotten into an argument with his fiancée and jumped in the back of the truck as she was trying to leave. Henry was a great young man but he was very troubled and it affected his professional football career.
Although people tend to focus on Henry’s criminal record, there was so much more to him than the mistakes he made is his life. The worst aspect of Henry’s death was that he was turning his life around in 2009 and making an effort to get away from the bad influences in his life. Henry was showing tremendous heart to practice in the off-season and was working toward getting married the following year and be with his children. Henry will always live on in Cincinnati, Ohio, because he was changing for the better; he just never got to live to see his full potential.
Steve McNair was just 36 when he died in 2009 from gunshot wounds attributed to his girlfriend. According to ESPN, the girlfriend opened fire on McNair before committing suicide after becoming enraged he was ending their affair. McNair was a quarterback in the National Football League,who played most of his career with the Tennessee Titans. McNair even led his team to the Super Bowl and was such a great person to be around.
McNair left behind a wife and children, as well as many fans around the world. McNair is remembered now as a true football hero and legend since he was the versatile leader of the team. McNair was having an affair with the woman who ultimately killed him, but that is not what people remember about him; they remember how great of a person he was. McNair is honored by people around the world who watch professional sports because they see how gentle and genuine he was.
Web Staff, “McDaniels honors memory of Kenny McKinley at emotional news conference”, Los Angeles Times
Mike Fish,”Pat Tillman Timeline”, ESPN
ESPN News, “Henry, 26, dies day after dispute”, ESPN
ESPN News, “Former MVP McNair found dead”, ESPN