Notable sports deaths in 2020
David Stern, the commissioner who transformed the NBA from a financially troubled fringe league to a global and cultural powerhouse, died on Jan 1. He was 77.
Don Larsen, who carved his name forever in baseball history on Oct. 8, 1956 in Game 5 of the World Series, a moment frozen forever with the black-and-white image of Yankees catcher Yogi Berra leaping into his arms after the final called strike of his perfect game, died on Jan. 1. He was 90.
Sam Wyche, who pushed the boundaries as an offensive innovator with the Cincinnati Bengals and challenged the NFL's protocols along the way, died of melanona on Jan. 2. He was 74.
Rocky "Soulman" Johnson, a WWE Hall of Fame wrestler who became better known as the father of actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, died on Jan 15. He was 75.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and three others were killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California on Jan. 26 at age 41.
Chris Doleman, a Pro Football Hall of Fame pass rusher, died on Jan. 28, two years after being diagnosed with brain cancer. He was 58. He had 150 1/2 career sacks.
Willie Wood, a Hall of Fame defensive back and five-time NFL champion with the Packers, died on Feb. 3. at age 83. He made the first interception in Super Bowl history.
Tony Fernandez was a slick-fielding shortstop for 17 MLB seasons, mostly with the Toronto Blue Jays. He also played one season each for the Mets and Yankees. Fernandez died on Feb. 16 after complications from a kidney disease at age 57.
Mickey Wright, who won 13 majors among her 82 victories and gave the fledgling LPGA a crucial lift, died Feb. 17 of a heart attack at age 85.
Roger Mayweather, a former world boxing champion and trainer of his nephew Floyd Mayweather Jr., died on March 17 at age 58. Mayweather had suffered from diabetes and other long-term health issues.
Fred 'Curly' Neal
Fred "Curly" Neal, the dribbling wizard who entertained millions with the Harlem Globetrotters for parts of three decades, died on March 26, He was 77.
Tom Dempsey, the kicker born without toes on his kicking foot who made a then-record 63-yard field goal, died on April 4 at age 73 while struggling with complications from the new coronavirus.
Bobby Mitchell, the speedy late 1950s and '60s NFL offensive star for the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins, died on April 5. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was 84.
Al Kaline, who spent his entire 22-season Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Tigers and was known affectionately as "Mr. Tiger," died on April 6 at age 85.
Tarvaris Jackson, who played 10 seasons at quarterback in the NFL for the Seahawks, Vikings and Bills, died in a one-car crash outside Montgomery, Alabama, on Easter Sunday, April 12. He was 36.
Hank Steinbrenner, co-owner of the Yankees and eldest son of the late George Steinbrenner, died after a long battle with an undisclosed illness on April 14. He was 63.
Don Shula, who won the most games of any NFL coach and led the Miami Dolphins to the only perfect season in league history, died on May 4 at his home at age 90.
Mike Storen, a former ABA commissioner and multisport marketing whiz and the father of ESPN broadcaster Hannah Storm, died from cancer on May 7. He was 84.
Bob Watson, a two-time All-Star as a player who later became the first black general manager to win a World Series with the Yankees in 1996, died on May 14 after a long battle with kidney disease. He was 74.
Phyllis George, the former Miss America who became a female sportscasting pioneer on CBS's "The NFL Today," died on May 14 after a long fight with a blood disorder. She was 70.
Jerry Sloan, the coach who took the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998 on his way to a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame, died on May 22 at age 78 from complications related to Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.
Tom Flatley, the Garden City football and lacrosse coach who exhibited quiet greatness as one of Long Island’s iconic high school coaches for more than 50 years, died on March 16 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old.
Pat Dye, a College Football Hall of Famer who took over an Auburn football program in 1981 and turned it into an SEC power, died June 1 at age 80.
Wes Unseld, the workmanlike Hall of Fame center who led Washington to its only NBA championship and was chosen one of the 50 greatest players in league history, died on June 2 after a series of health issues, most recently pneumonia. He was 74.
Claudell Washington, a two-time All-Star outfielder who played 17 seasons in the majors after being called up as a teenager by the Oakland Athletics, died on June 10. He was 65.
Lute Olson, the Hall of Fame coach who turned Arizona into a college basketball powerhouse, died on Aug. 27. He was 85.
John Thompson, the former Georgetown men's basketball coach and the first Black coach to win the NCAA Tournament in 1984, died at the age of 78 on Sept. 1.
Tom Seaver, the Mets legend, World Series champion and Hall of Famer who gave a generation of fans a baseball hero of their own, died in his sleep on Aug. 31 from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19, the Baseball Hall of Fame said on Sept. 2. He was 75.
Hall of Famer Lou Brock, one of baseball's signature leadoff hitters and base stealers who helped the St. Louis Cardinals win three pennants and two World Series in the 1960s, died Sept. 6 at age 81.
Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers, whose electrifying runs and kick returns captivated Bears fans during an injury-shortened career and whose friendship with teammate Brian Piccolo endeared him to millions in the movie "Brian’s Song," died on Sept. 23. He was 77.
Bob Gibson, the hard-throwing Cardinals' Hall of Fame pitcher known for his fierce demeanor on the mound, died on Oct. 2 under hospice care after fighting pancreatic cancer for more than a year. He was 84.
Whitey Ford, who won 236 games during his 16 seasons with the Yankees and has the highest winning percentage in baseball history (.690) of any pitcher with more than 200 victories, died on Friday, Oct. 9, at age 91.
Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman who became the sparkplug of the Big Red Machine and the prototype for baseball’s artificial turf era, died on Oct. 11 at age 77.
Fred Dean, the fearsome pass rusher who was a key part of the launch of the San Francisco 49ers' dynasty, died Oct. 14 from the coronavirus. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was 68.
Travis Roy, the Boston University hockey player who was paralyzed 11 seconds into his first college shift and went on to be a motivational speaker and advocate for the disabled, died on Oct. 29. He was 45.
Herb Adderley, the Hall of Fame cornerback who joined the NFL as a running back and became part of a record six championship teams with the Packers and Cowboys, died at age 81. His death was confirmed by the Packers on Oct. 30 with no details given.
Nancy Darsch, the first head coach in Liberty history, has passed away, the team announced on Tuesday morning. Darsch was 68. Darsch was the head coach when the Liberty played the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA’s inaugural game on June 21, 1997.
Tommy Heinsohn, who as a Boston Celtics player, coach and broadcaster was with the team for all 17 of its NBA championships, has died. He was 86. The team confirmed Heinsohn's death. No further details were immediately available.
Paul Hornung, the dazzling "Golden Boy" of the Green Bay Packers whose singular ability to generate points as a runner, receiver, quarterback and kicker helped turn the team into an NFL dynasty, died on Nov. 13. He was 84.
Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer great who was among the best players ever and who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity, died on Nov. 25. He was 60.
Rafer Johnson, who won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin in 1968, died on Dec. 2 at age 86.
Dick Allen, a seven-time All-Star slugger whose fight against racism during a tumultuous time with the Phillies in the 1960s cost him on and off the field, died on Dec. 7. He was 78.
As head coach of the Giants, Ray Perkins hired Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, developed Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor and helped restore order to a franchise shaken by 15 years of ineptitude and losing culture. Perkins, who followed Paul "Bear" Bryant as head coach at Alabama, died on Dec. 9 at age 79.
A two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection, Kevin Greene finished his career with 160 sacks, third best in NFL history. The Pro Football Hall of Famer died on Dec. 21 at age 58.
Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, who pitched well into his 40s with a knuckleball that baffled big league hitters for more than two decades, mostly with Atlanta, died after a long fight with cancer, the team announced on Dec. 27. He was 81.