Five Athletes Who Were Taken Too Soon

This past week the sports world lost a true legend and a great guy in former Phillies and Blue Jay great Roy “Doc” Halladay, who died tragically in a plane crash at the age of 40. Halladay was a dominate right handed pitcher whose career lasted fifteen years. Over the span of his career, Halladay was 203-105 on the mound with a 3.38 ERA and 2,117 career strikeouts. Halladay was an eight-time all-star, two-time Cy Young winner, lead the MLB in wins twice, and had one perfect game and one post season no hitter. Roy Halladay was one of my all time favorites to watch with one of the nastiest 12-6 curveballs in the leagues history. Halladay played the game the way it should be played. Upon Halladay’s death I found myself thinking about the mark he left on the game and the fans, then I began to think about those who we will never be able to see their full potential.

Len Bias

Len Bias was a this freakishly athletic product from the university of Maryland. Bias was a first team All-American who averaged 23 points per contest in his final season. Bias was a shoe in to be a top five pick in the 1986 NBA draft. Then came draft night, where Bias was taken second overall to the NBA champions at the time, Boston Celtics. This Celtics team was absolutely stacked, and with the addition of Bias the sky was the limit. However, days away from playing his first ever game in the NBA, Bias passed away from an overdose from cocaine. Bias was 22 years old. It is hard to tell what all Bias and the Celtics would have been able to accomplish. Bias was only 22.

Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman is probably one of the intriguing stories of all time. Tillman was a product of Arizona State University and would go on to be a defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals. Tillman went from a seventh round pick to an All-Pro safety. Over his four career, Tillman had four interceptions, two hundred forty-seven tackles, and assisted on ninety-three tackles. Tillman did not miss a game in his career until the terrorist attack on the Twin Tower on September 11th, 2001. After this horrific tragedy, Tillman enlisted and went to serve in the United States Army. Three years later, Tillman was killed in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan. Tillman’s patriotism is something to truly be admired. His alma mater, Arizona State University, has honored the fallen Tillman many times, but most memorable is when the Sun Devils took the field all wearing the #42 Tillman jerseys and he even has a statue cementing his legacy outside of the Arizona Cardinals Stadium. Tillman was 27.

Sean Taylor

Just thinking about this one hurts. Sean Taylor was a safety hailing from Miami University and would later be the fifth pick of the 2004 NFL Draft to the Washington Redskins. Taylor was a member of possibly the greatest college football team ever assembled and would have gave many NFL teams fits even in college. Taylor’s career consisted of being being a BCS champion in 2001, Big East Player of the Year (2003), Unanimous All-American (2003), two-time Pro Bowler, First-Team All-Pro ,and was inducted into the Washington Redskins Ring of Fame. Taylor had two hundred ninety-nine tackles, twelve interceptions, eight forced fumbles, two sacks, and one touchdown in just a three year career. Many teammates and coaches have claimed Taylor may have been the best football player to ever grace a playing field and was an even better guy (the highlight below makes that hard to argue).Taylor’s name broke headlines on November 27th, 2007 when news of his death broke when he was killed by robbers in his home. He was only twenty four.

Benji Wilson

In my opinion, this is the biggest “what if” in sports. 17 year old Benji Wilson was a high school basketball player in Chicago, Illinois, at Simeon High School in 1984. This 6’8″ guard/forward was the best high school basketball player in the nation. Many coaches and scouts said Wilson was much better than what Michael Jordan was. Wilson lead his school to 1984 city championship, as well as a state championship. Wilson had offers from every school in the nation. On November 20th, 1984, Wilson had decided to go see his girlfriend, who had some issues, instead of eating lunch with his teammates. Benji and girlfriend were going to have child, which was a source of some of the problems. The girlfriend did not want to talk and tried to escape Wilson when Billy Moore intervened, which made Wilson even madder. Moore pulled out a .22, and Wilson taunted him to shoot him. Moore shot Wilson after he lunged at him. He was shot twice and killed him.  The #25 has been retired at Simeon High School, but the last one to wear it was Derrick Rose, who would later wear it with the New York Knicks. Former teammates and friends Nick Anderson and Juwan Howard would also wear the number throughout their careers. Would Benji have been in the argument of who the GOAT is? Possibly. The basketball world may have been shaped differently.

José Fernández

This one hits me hard. I was on my way to work whenever I received an ESPN notification. Normally I will not look at ESPN notifications while I’m driving, but this time I felt the need to, and when I saw the news that Fernández had passed away the water works were immediate. Fernández was easily my favorite player in the league due to the amount of love and passion he had for the game. Fernández was little leaguer, who loved the game, stuck in a superstar’s body. Fernández MLB career was only three years, but his stats were phenomenal. He was 38-17, with an ERA of 2.58 and 589 strikeouts. HE WAS IN THE LAGUE FOR THREE YEARS. He was a two-time all-star and the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year. Fernández was tragically killed in a boating incident where he was under the influence. Fernández was only 24 years, and had the potential to be one of the greatest to ever play the game.

Thank you for hanging out and reading my article on this Friday afternoon. All feedback is welcome and appreciated. Lastly, make sure to stay tuned in for new daily content and make sure to check out this weeks playlist!


*Originally posted on 11/10/2017*

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