Here is where we look at some of the athletes and sports figures we’ve lost in 2023. That list includes football legend Jim Brown, basketball HoFer Willis Reed, hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, Heisman Trophy-winning running back Charles White, three-time World Series Champion Vida Blue, former MLB catcher and broadcaster Tim McCarver, former MLB MVP Dick Groat, former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant, soccer legend Just Fontaine, college basketball announcer Billy Packer, pro wrestlers The Iron Sheik, Jay Briscoe, Lanny Poffo and Bushwhacker Butch, and “Superstar” Billy Graham, former Boston Celtic Chris Ford, and A’s infielder Sal Bando.
Professional wrestling legend The Iron Sheik has died at 81.
“Today we gather with heavy hearts to bid farewell to a true legend,” reads a statement on his official Twitter account, which is run by his managers Page and Jian Magen.
Sheiky Baby was the real bubba, winning gold in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1971 AAU championships, and later taking the then-WWF title from Bob Backlund. He later lost the belt to Hulk Hogan, whom he’s famously referred to as a “Hollywood blonde jabroni.”
Sheik was born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri in Iran, and served as Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s bodyguard for many years before moving to the United States.
Four-time World Series winner — as both a player and manager — Roger Craig died at age 93.
Craig spent 12 years in the bigs for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and Philadelphia Phillies. He later managed the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants.
A right-handed pitcher, Craig compiled 74 wins, a 3.83 ERA, and 803 strikeouts. As a player, he won rings in 1955 and 1959 with the Dodgers, and in 1964 in his lone season with the Cards.
Craig was also an assistant for the Pads (twice), Astros, and Tigers, who won the 1984 season — his last year with the team before becoming San Fran’s skipper.
Longtime NCAA and NFL coach Bill McGovern died of cancer on May 30. He was 60.
McGovern won a football state title as a player for New Jersey powerhouse Bergen Catholic — McGovern was selected to The (Bergen) Record’s All-Century team — before a four-year collegiate career at Holy Cross, where he starred as a defensive back. McGovern set a Division I-AA record with 24 INTs.
Immediately after college, he went into coaching — most notably having stints with Boston College, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the New York Giants. He was most recently UCLA’s director of football administration after serving as the Bruins’ DC in 2022.
Jim Brown, the football great, Black lacrosse pioneer, and former social and racist justice activist died at his Los Angeles home on Thursday. The College and Pro Football Hall of Famer was 87.
Brown spent his entire NFL career with the Cleveland Browns (1957-1965) and is considered one of, if not the greatest, players of all time. He was the 1957 Rookie of the Year, a three-time MVP, nine-time Pro Bowler, and NFL champion (1964). He rushed for 12,312 yards, and scored a combined 126 rushing and receiving touchdowns.
“Jim broke down barriers just as he broke tackles,” his former team wrote in a statement upon his passing.
“To the world, he was an activist, actor, and football star,” his wife, Monique Brown, wrote in an Instagram post. “To our family, he was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Our hearts are broken.”
WWE Hall of Famer “Superstar” Billy Graham died Wednesday at age 79, the company announced.
“A former WWE Champion, Graham’s flashy fashion style, over-the-top interviews, and bodybuilder physique created the archetype for a generation of Superstars that followed in his footsteps,” WWE wrote on its website.
Graham defeated Bruno Sammartino on April 30, 1977, to capture the then-WWWF title. The bout earned PWI’s Match of the Year honors.
“If it wasn’t for Billy Graham, this industry would be so much different than it is,” Dave Meltzer said.
Graham (real name Eldridge Wayne Coleman) was known for his signature catchphrase, “I’m the man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour!”
Graham’s look and style influenced Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, Ric Flair, Scott Steiner, and others.
Following a career in bodybuilding, “Superstar” was trained to be a pro wrestler by the also legendary Stu Hart.
Graham was on life support before his death, according to his wife.
Doyle Brunson, nicknamed “The Godfather of Poker” died Sunday, his family announced. The 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner was 89.
Brunson was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1988. He earned more than $3 million between the WSOP and Europe, according to WSOP.com
He was one of four players to win multiple main events at the World Series of Poker. With his 10 WSOP bracelets, Brunson is tied with Phil Ivey and Johnny Chan — six behind Phil Hellmuth.
Former Louisville men’s basketball coach Denny Crum died Tuesday, the school announced. He was 86.
Crum led the Cardinals to two national titles — 1980 and 1986 — during his 30-year tenure with Louisville. During that time, 23 of his squads qualified for the NCAA Tournament, with six making it to the Final Four. Crum retired in 2001 with a 675-295 career record.
Nicknamed “Cool Hand Luke,” he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994, and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He played at UCLA for two years under legendary coach John Wooden.
Former NFL quarterback Joe Kapp, who led the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl in 1970, died at age 85.
Kapp is the lone signal-caller to play in the NFL’s Big Game, the CFL’s Grey Cup, as well as the Rose Bowl.
Kapp was the MVP of the 1969 NFL Championship Game, the final one before the league’s merger with the AFL. While he didn’t have great career numbers, the New Mexico native did throw for seven TDs in a single NFL game.
He was inducted into the College and Canadian football halls.
He was the head football coach at his alma mater Cal from 1982-86.
Vida Blue, a three-time World Series champion, died Saturday at 73. The lefty spent 17 years in the bigs with the A’s — winning titles in 1972, ‘73, and ‘74 — San Francisco Giants, and Kansas City Royals.
Blue was a six-time All-Star, who won both the American League MVP and Cy Young in 1971 after going 24-8 with a league-leading 1.82 ERA with 301 strikeouts in 312 innings. He pitched a no-hitter on Sept. 21, 1970, and was part of a combined no-no on Sept. 28, 1975.
The lefty got married on the mound in Candlestick Park, with Willie McCovey serving as best man.
One thing that eluded Blue was induction into Cooperstown.
“I don’t want to sound morbid, but if it happens, I hope they put me in before I pass away,” Blue told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2021. “I want to enjoy the benefits.”
“There are some guys in the Hall of Fame who don’t have halos,” the pitcher told the Chronicle.
Tori Bowie, who won three medals at the 2016 Olympics, died, her management company announced on Wednesday. She was 32.
In Rio, Bowie was part of the gold medal-winning 4x100m relay team. She also earned silver in the 100m and bronze in the 200m. A year later, she captured gold in the 4x100m and 100m in London at the World Championships.
“USATF is deeply saddened by the passing of Tori Bowie, a three-time Olympic medalist and two-time world champion,” USA Track and Field CEO Max Siegel said in a statement. “A talented athlete, her impact on the sport is immeasurable, and she will be greatly missed.”
Her death was announced along with the passing of Calvin Davis.
Former St. Louis Cardinals player and broadcaster Mike Shannon died, the team announced. He was 83.
Shannon won two rings with the Red Birds in 1964 and 1967. A 3B/RF Shannon batted .255 with 68 HRs, and 367 RBI.
He retired in 1970 after contracting a kidney disease. Shannon joined the Cardinals’ radio booth in 1972 and retired in 2021.
Former MLB shortstop Dick Groat died Thursday, according to his family. He was 92.
Groat starred in both baseball and basketball at Duke. He was an All-American in both sports, and his No. 10 was retired by the school after his senior year.
He signed with his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates shortly before being drafted by the then-Fort Wayne Pistons. He played 26 games, averaging 11.9 points per game as a point guard in his lone season with the squad.
On the diamond, Groat was an eight-time All-Star during his 14-year career — which was interrupted by military service — with the Pirates, Cardinals, Phillies, and Giants.
In 1960, he won the National League MVP after batting .325/.371/.394 with two HRs and 50 RBI, and a ring after his Pirates upset the Yankees in the World Series. He’d win another title in 1964 with the Cardinals.
Former NFL LB Dave Wilcox died Wednesday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced.
Wilcox, known as “The Intimidator” spent his entire 11-year career with the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted him in the third round of the 1964 NFL Draft.
The Oregon native recorded 36.5 sacks and 14 interceptions. Wilcox was a seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. He was 80.
Former Minnesota Vikings scout Frank Gilliam died Sunday at 89, the franchise announced.
Gilliam was one of the first Black scouts in NFL history. He played football collegiately at Iowa, and professionally in the CFL. His tenure with the Vikings lasted from 1970 until his 2007 retirement.
“…[H]e became the first guy I hired, and we worked together for over 30 years,” Minnesota’s former Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reichow told Vikings.com. “Frank was a great guy and a really good scout. He had grown up in football and really studied it.”
WWE Hall of Famer and one-half of the famous Sheepherders/Bushwhackers tag team Bushwhacker Butch — real name Robert Miller — died Sunday. He was 78.
Miller made his in-ring debut in 1964. He wrestled for several promotions, including the NWA, UWF, WWC, and the then-WWF. Miller retired in 2001 after suffering a neck injury.
No cause of death was given, but the former pro wrestler was reportedly recently hospitalized in Los Angeles.
The Bushwhackers, who were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015, appeared as themselves in an episode of Family Matters.
Former Green Bay Packers fullback died Friday at 74, the team announced.
The Packers selected Brockington ninth overall in the 1971 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound RB was the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, beating out Jim Plunkett and John Riggins. During his eight-year career, Brockington rushed for 5,185 yards and 30 TDs.
The three-time Pro Bowler is still the fourth all-time leading rusher in Green Bay history (5,024 yards). He finished out his career with Kansas City in 1977.
Brockington was part of the 1968 Ohio State squad — which also featured College Football Hall of Famer Jack Tatum — that went 10-0 and defeated USC, 27-16, in the Rose Bowl.
In 2002, he established the John Brockington Foundation after receiving a kidney transplant.
Former NBA champion Willis Reed died Tuesday. The NAIA, College Basketball, and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer was 80.
Reed spent his entire NBA playing career (1964-74) with the New York Knicks. His accolades — in addition to winning two titles — include Rookie of the Year (1965), MVP (1970), and Finals MVP (1970, 1973).
A 6-foot-10 center, Reed was a seven-time all-star, and was named in both the 50th and 75th NBA anniversary teams. He had his No. 19 retired by the Knicks.
He averaged 18.7 points per game and 12.9 rebounds. Reed finished his career with 12,183 points and 8,414 boards.
In his post-playing days, the Louisiana native coached the Knicks, Nets, and Creighton’s men’s basketball team, and served as an assistant for the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings.
Reed had been name-dropped by rappers Kurtis Blow and the Beastie Boys.
Former New York Yankee Joe Pepitone died at 82, his former club announced Monday.
“The Yankees are deeply saddened by the passing of former Yankee Joe Pepitone, whose playful and charismatic personality and on-field contributions made him a favorite of generations of Yankee fans even beyond his years with the team in the 1960s,” the statement reads.
The Brooklyn-born Pepitone spent 12 years in the majors, spending his first eight seasons in the Bronx. As a member of the Yankees, he was a three-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves, and earned a ring in 1962, despite not appearing in the World Series.
Pepitone, who also played for the Astros, Braves, and Cubs, batted .258, hit 219 home runs, and produced 721 RBI.
Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Bud Grant died, the Minnesota Vikings, who he guided to four Super Bowl appearances, announced Saturday. He was 95.
Grant was the 1969 NFL Coach of the Year after leading the Vikings to a 27-7 win over the Cleveland Browns in the final championship game before the NFL-AFL merger. He became the first coach to lose four Super Bowls.
Before joining Minnesota, he coached the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, after playing for the team for three seasons. Grant won four Gray Cups, was the 1965 CFL Coach of the Year, and was later inducted into the Canadian Football HoF.
Grant was drafted by both the Philadelphia Eagles and the then-Minneapolis Lakers, in the 1950 NFL and NBA drafts, respectively. He was a reserve on the Lakers’ 1950 championship team, and spent two seasons with the Eagles. He played defensive end his first year before switching to wide receiver.
Former NFL player and scout Dick Haley died Friday. He was 85.
“We lost an amazing football mind and a better man with the passing of Dick Haley,” Steelers President Art Rooney II said. “He was a valuable part of this franchise for 23 years, the first 4 of those as a player and the final 19 as a member of the Player Personnel Department.
“Dick played an instrumental role in our unprecedented success in the 1970s during the second part of his career,” added Rooney. “He developed a unique eye for talent, and he ultimately helped identify and draft many of the players that allowed us to win four Super Bowls during that decade. My condolences go out to the entire Haley family during this difficult time.”
Haley was drafted in the ninth round of the 1959 NFL Draft. He played cornerback for Washington, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh. Haley recorded 14 interceptions and scored two TDs.
During his tenure as the Steelers’ director of player personnel — from 1971 to 1990 — Pittsburgh won four Super Bowls (IX, X, XIII, and XIV). Haley is in the franchise’s Hall of Fame.
His son, Todd, was a longtime NFL coach.
Former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Otis Taylor died Thursday. He was 80.
Taylor was a two-time AFL champ (1966 and 1969), and one-time Super Bowl champ (IV). A three-time Pro Bowler, he racked up 7,306 yards and 57 TDs in his career. Taylor had two 1,000-yard seasons.
He died seven months after his former QB and friend Len Dawson.
“My family and I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Otis’ wife Regina, his sister Odell and the entire Taylor family as we mourn his passing,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement. “He was one of the most dynamic receivers of his era, and he helped revolutionize the position. Off the field, he was kind and dedicated to his community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Otis’ legacy will live forever.”
French footballer Just Fontaine died at 89, his former club Stade de Reims announced on Wednesday. The striker scored 13 goals for France in the 1958 World Cup.
Fontaine scored 21 total goals in 30 appearances for Les Blues — whom he later managed in 1967 — and more than 200 club goals for USM Casablanca, Nice, and Reims. In his post-playing days, Fontaine also managed the famed French club PSG for three seasons between 1973-76, and Morocco — where he was born — from 1979-81.
The Carolina Panthers announced that former owner Jerry Richardson died Wednesday at 86. Richardson was awarded the team in 1993. He owned the franchise from its inaugural season in 1995 until 2018 when he sold the team after an investigation by the NFL found him guilty of workplace misconduct, which included sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur.
David Tepper, who bought the team in 2018 for $2.27 billion, said in a statement, “Jerry Richardson’s contributions to professional football in the Carolinas are historic. With the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he changed the landscape of sports in the region and gave the NFL fans here a team to call their own. …”
Former Baltimore Colts defensive lineman Fred Miller died Sunday at the age of 82. He spent his entire career with the team, who drafted him out of LSU in the 7th round of the NFL Draft. The three-time Pro Bowler was a member of Baltimore’s 1968 NFL title and Super Bowl V-winning squads.
The world received some very sad news when we learned that legendary English football commentator John Motson, whose career spanned decades (and included very long stints in video games), had passed away at the age of 77.
Even the most casual English-speaking football fan will know his work, regardless of whether they knew his name or not. Motson was one of the most endearing commentators in the sport, beginning his career on radio in the 1960s before moving to TV shortly after. He didn’t retire until 2018, having covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and, incredibly, over 2,500 games in total, on both TV and radio, domestically and internationally.
-Luke Plunkett, Kotaku
Billie Joe “Red” McCombs, a Texas businessman who once owned the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, and Minnesota Vikings, died Sunday, his family announced.
“Red was a visionary entrepreneur who touched many lives and impacted our community in immeasurable ways,” the statement from the family says. “But to us he was always, first and foremost, ‘Dad’ or ‘Poppop.’ We mourn the loss of a Texas icon.”
McCombs bought the Dallas Chaparrals of the ABA, relocated the franchise to San Antonio — becoming the Spurs — and helped get the team into the NBA during the 1976 ABA-NBA merger.
He owned the Nuggets for a short period in the 1980s, and owned the Vikings from 1998-2005.
McCombs, a co-founder of Clear Channel Communications (later iHeartCommunications), was 95.
Former EPL forward Christian Atsu died in Turkey during the recent earthquake.
“Atsu’s lifeless body was found under the rubble. At the moment, his belongings are still being removed,” his manager Murat Uzunmehmet told private news agency DHA.
At the club level, Atsu played for Chelsea, Newcastle, and most recently Hatayspor, and internationally with Ghana. He was 31.
Former MLB All-Star and two-time World Series champion Tim McCarver died, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
McCarver spent 21 years in the bigs, which included 12 years with the Red Birds, and stints with the Phillies, Expos, and Red Sox. A left-handed hitting catcher, he finished second in the MVP voting in 1967 after batting .295/.369/.452 with 14 home runs and 69 RBI. He won his second ring with the club that year; the first was in 1964.
After retiring from baseball in 1980, McCarver became an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster who called 24 World Series.
The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer was 81.
Former professional wrestler and promoter Jerry Jarrett died Tuesday. The father of WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett, was 80. The cause of death is unknown. The elder Jarrett, along with Jerry “The King” Lawler, created the Continental Wrestling Association, which later became the USWA after a merger with World Class Championship Wrestling. Jerry and Jeff co-founded TNA in 2002.
Former NFL lineman Conrad Dobler died Monday. The 10-year pro was dubbed “football’s dirtiest player” — accused of punching, spitting on, and kicking opposing players. Dobler was a three-time Pro Bowler. The 6-foot-3, 234-pound guard played for the Cardinals — who drafted him out of Wyoming in the 1972 NFL Draft — Saints, and Bills.
“He was the kind of tough, physical and fierce player that you love to line up with as a teammate and hate to line up against as an opponent. On the field, Conrad was a big reason for the success of the Cardiac Cards of the 1970s,’’ Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement.
Dobler was 72.
Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner died Feb. 12, the team announced. Lerner, a billionaire real estate developer, was 97. His family purchased the team from MLB in 2006 for $450 million. The Nationals won a World Series in 2019.
“The Genius” has passed. Professional wrestler Lanny Poffo died on Thursday at 68 due to unknown causes. Longtime friend “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan announced Poffo’s passing on social media. Poffo was the real-life younger brother of “The Macho Man” Randy Savage, who died in 2011. Poffo’s last appearance in professional wrestling came at the 2018 event “All In” while his final showing with the WWE was to posthumously induct Savage into its Hall of Fame. Outside of wrestling, Poffo published two books and was a motivational speaker.
“Arriving in WWE in 1985 alongside his brother, “Leaping” Lanny Poffo was one of the first high-flyers in WWE. While he achieved some success as a fan favorite reading his own poetry and throwing Frisbees to the crowd, he reached new heights as The Genius while managing Mr. Perfect,” WWE wrote on its website.
Bobby Beathard, an exec who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2018, died on Monday. His son Casey told The Washington Post that his father, 86, died from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
He was part of the front office for four Super Bowl-winning teams — two in Miami, and two in Washington.
After serving as a scout for the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, Beathard was director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins from 1972 — when the team went undefeated — until 1977. He was the GM of the then-Redskins from 1978-88, hiring coach Joe Gibbs, and drafting Hall of Famers Art Monk, Russ Grimm, and Darrell Green.
He also selected notorious draft bust Ryan Leaf as the Chargers’ GM.
Bobby Hull, the hockey Hall of Famer known as “The Golden Jet” died, his former team the Chicago Blackhawks announced on Monday.
The winger, whose NHL career lasted from 1958 until 1980, was 84.
Hull played in 1,063 games for the Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, and Hartford Whalers, tallying 1,170 points A 12-time All-star, he won a Stanley Cup in 1961. Hull is Chicago’s all-time leading goal scorer with 604, including 98 game-winners.
Hull was inducted into hockey’s Hall of Fame in 1983. His son, Brett, was enshrined in 2009. They are the only father-and-son duo to each win the Hart Trophy.
College basketball announcer Billy Packer died Thursday, according to a tweet from his son, Mark. He was 82.
During his broadcast career, Packer worked 34 Final Fours for both NBC and CBS. He was a color analyst or play-by-play guy for each tournament between 1975-2008.
Mark told The Associated Press that his dad had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.
“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer told AP. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”
Longtime Portland Trailblazers play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely died Saturday. He was 93.
Schonely served as the team’s play-by-play guy from its inaugural season in 1970 until 1998. Known as “The Schwonz,” he coined the term “Rip City.”
Former MLB infielder and executive Sal Bando died Friday after a battle with cancer. Bando spent 16 years in the majors, including 11 in Oakland, winning three World Series trophies with the A’s in the early ‘70s.
The four-time All-Star finished his career with the Brewers, later serving as Milwaukee’s GM from 1991-99.
“It is with a heavy heart, the Bando family is sad to announce the passing of its beloved husband and father, Sal, who last night lost his battle with cancer that began over five years ago,” the Bando family said in a statement on Saturday. “Sandy, Sal’s wife of 54 years, and sons Sal Jr., Sonny and Stef, send their love to family, friends and fans who mourn the loss of a humble and faithful man.”
Bando batted .254, slugged 242 home runs, and is a member of the A’s Hall of Fame. Outside of baseball, he had a cameo on a 2006 episode of “The Simpsons.” He was 78.
MLS defender Anton Walkes died in a boating accident Thursday. He was 25.
Walkes was a member of Charlotte FC, who drafted him in the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft. The England native previously played for Tottenham, Portsmouth, and Atlanta United.
One-half of the best professional wrestling tag team of all-time to never get a chance in a major promotion died Tuesday night. Jay Briscoe was involved in a fatal car crash in Laurel, Delaware. Briscoe, whose real name was Jamin Pugh, was 38.
Delaware State Police were investigating the fatal two-car crash where a 27-year-old female driver veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with Briscoe’s truck. The female driver of the other vehicle was wearing her seatbelt, while Briscoe was not. Both were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Briscoe’s 12- and 9-year-old daughters were in the truck at the time of the crash and both wearing their seatbelts. Both were admitted to a local hospital in critical condition.
Briscoe was most widely known for his work alongside his brother, Mark Briscoe (real name Mark Pugh), as two of the founding fathers of Ring of Honor. The Briscoe Brothers were 13-time ROH World Tag Team Champions.
(Read more here.)
Former three-time All-Star Frank Thomas, who was with the New York Mets for their inaugural season, died on Monday, the team announced. He was 93.
For his career, Thomas batted .266 with 286 home runs. The OF/3B also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, the then-Milwaukee Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Houston Astros.
Former Heisman Trophy winner Charles White died Wednesday. The star USC running back, who rushed for a still-standing school record 6,245 yards, was 64. The cause of death was cancer, according to the school.
White was Rose Bowl MVP in 1979 — the year he won the Heisman, and several other awards — and 1980. He was a key member of USC’s 1978 national title-winning squad.
White played nine seasons in the NFL with the Browns and Rams, leading the league in rushing in 1987.
A College Football Hall of Famer, White told Sports Illustrated that he smoked marijuana “almost daily” while at Southern Cal and tried cocaine a few weeks prior to the 1977 Rose Bowl. He dealt with drug and alcohol abuse and eventually sold his Heisman.
“Charles White was one of the all-time great Trojans,” USC athletic director Mike Bohn said.
Former striker for Chelsea, Juventus, and Italy’s men’s national team, Gianluca Vialli died Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 58.
“I know that I probably will not die of old age, I hope to live as long as possible, but I feel much more fragile than before,” Vialli had said in a Netflix documentary.
He scored 167 career club goals, and 16 with Gli Azzurri. Vialli was on the Italy squad that finished third at the 1990 World Cup.
Vialli also spent time as manager of Chelsea, and Watford, and as an assistant with the Italian national team. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017.
Nate Colbert, the San Diego Padres’ all-time home runs leader, died on Jan. 5. He was 76.
The slugging first baseman joined the then-expansion squad in 1969, and was a three-time All-Star with the club.
During his time with San Diego, Colbert hit 163 of his career 173 round trippers.
Colbert spent 12 seasons in the majors with the Houston Astros, Padres, Detroit Tigers, Montreal Expos, and Oakland A’s, and also spent time in left field.
He finished eighth in MVP voting in 1972.
“An original member of the Padres in 1969, Nate was a trailblazer in the San Diego sports community. He was a three-time National League All-Star in brown and gold and became the Padres’ all-time home run king (163), a record that still stands today,” team chairman Peter Seidler said.
Former Texas Longhorns baseball coach Cliff Gustafson died on Jan. 2 at 91.
He guided the Longhorns to two College World Series titles in 1975 and 1983. Gustafson compiled a 1,466–377–2 record with Texas, and won 11 Southwestern Conference tournament titles. He was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Several of his players went on to the majors, most notably Roger Clemens.
Dubbed the “Father of Instant Replay,” former NFL official Art McNally died on Jan. 1. The Pro Football Hall of Famer — the first official inducted — was 97. He was a field judge for the 1959 season before becoming a referee for the next eight years.
McNally was the NFL’s Supervisor of Officials from 1968 until his 1991 retirement. He introduced instant replay to the league.