Sudden Death In Young Athletes, Gone Too Soon

March 12, 2011

Over the years we have seen so many young athletes in a variety of sports falling to the floor and suddenly dying, some of the causes have been heart disorders, brain hemorrhages, collisions and there are a few whose cause of death still remains a mystery. Keep reading our story to take a took back in time to all those young athletes who died suddenly over the years.


In this time capsule we are going to take you back to November 9th, 1910, when 19 year old polo player John Daniels fell unconscious on the floor, he was taken to the hospital in New Haven but lost his life on the way there, although no one confirmed the cause of death some believed he died of heart failure while others said it was due to an injury at the game.

August 17, 1920: 29 year old Ray Chapman, Cleveland Indians’ shortstop was severely hit on his head by a pitch from New York Yankees Carl Mays. After his death the use of batting helmets became an MLB rule.

December 18, 1965: When a mysterious death at Norcom High School took place, 17 year old Larry Hall, who was at a practice game, took a jump for a rebound, fell to the floor and hit his head pretty bad, no word was released about his cause of death or autopsy.

December 24th, 1976: 18 year old Wayne Johnson, a senior at Akron Butchel High School where Johnson was an amazing baseball player, he suffered a throat injury during a game when another player fell on him. He was rushed to Trumbull Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

September 1982: Arturo Brown collapsed on the floor at a presentation game with his team at Boston University where he was a senior, Rick Pitino was his coach, his cause of death was a heart attack, he was just 21 year old.

June 19, 1986: Len Bias, a 22-year-old University of Maryland basketball star player was selected to play with the Celtics draft team he passed the physical test, but two days later he was dead, an autopsy revealed he died due to damage in his heart, but no one said what have cause that damage.

January 24, 1986: 31 year old Flo Hyman, an amazing volleyball player and Olympic medalist. Flo and the rest of the U.S Olympic team were competing in their third game of the day in Japan, she headed to the bench after a substitution but minutes later she collapsed on the floor and died. Some said it was a heart failure, but an autopsy revealed that her aortic vessel ruptured, Hyman had Marfan Syndrome (Connective Tissue disorder).

March 6, 1990: Hank Gathers of Loyola Marymount scored an amazing alley oop when he suddenly collapsed on the floor at the Gersten Pavilion in L.A, his team was playing at the West Coast Conference tournament against Portland, he was rushed to the hospital but it was already too late. The year before this he has had a similar episode, he was diagnosed with irregular palpitations and ordered to take medication for his condition.

August 16, 1993: 27 year old Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis was shooting baskets at a gym when he collapsed on the floor, he died hours later due to heart failure.

January 9th, 1996: Greg Menton, a UMass swimmer who was competing at Darmouth, died due to cardiac dysrhythmia.

August 11, 1998: 17 year old Max Draughon, a star football player at North Carolina High school, collapsed while running at a practice, the cause of his death was severe heat exhaustion.

January, 1998: 15-year old Noudi Damas, a Cardinal Newman High School basketball player, had been diagnosed with heart problems but was cleared to play, that January day he collapsed and died minutes later.

March 25, 2000: A goalie at Nothport Cow Harbor United Soccer Club, Louis Acompora, died due to Commotio Cordis. Apparently he was struck by a ball that cut the blood pumping through his body.

June 26, 2003: 28 year old Manchester City player from Cameroon, Marc-Vivien FoƩ, collapsed at a game at a FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final. The cause of death was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

June 8, 2004: 19 year old Ronalda Pierce, a basketball player at Florida State University, died due to an aneurysm, it was revealed that Ronalda also had Manfar Syndrome.

August, 2008: 15-year-old Max Gilpin died when he collapsed during a practice game with a very low temperature. His coach was charged for reckless homicide, he pleaded not guilty.

In 2010 over 10 young athletes died. On January 15, 21 year old Jeron Lewis from Southern Indiana collapsed during a game, the cause of his death was a heart condition; February 19th, 20 year old Ole Miss’ Bennie Abram collapsed during a conditioning game, he died minutes later; July, Brazilian futsal player 23-year-old Robson Rocha Costa died after pieces of the wooden indoor court perforated his leg and abdomen causing internal hemorrhage; August 14, Brian Colvin, a football player at Chester County, collapsed during a practice, cause of death heart failure; September 18, Texas High Reginald Garrett collapsed and died after throwing a touchdown, cause of death a history of seizures; September, 15-year old Oliver Louis a football player at Wekiva High School, collapsed during a game, was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead; October, 16 year old Carver High School junior Dontrel Claiborne collapsed during a game and died minutes later, cause of death congenital heart defect; October 23, 26 year old long distance swimmer Fran Crippen died at a swimming race in Dubai, cause of death heat exhaustion due to high temperatures.

March 5, 2011: 16 year old Wes Leonard an amazing basketball star at Fennville, collapsed after being lifted in the air by his teammates in celebration for his perfect shot, cause of his death was an enlarged heart.

March 8, 2011: 17 year old rugby player Matthew Hammerdorfer, 17, collapsed after being tackled in the chest, cause of death cardiac arrest.

So many young players have died, our hearts have been shattered by the tragic news of their death, our prayers and thoughts will be forever with their families. Their memory lives forever in our hearts. Share your thoughts and additional information in the comments box below.

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Athletes who have die in action Videos

Photos: Judy Eddy

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