A Tragic End: 12 Of The Most Tragic Athlete Deaths

Whether you are talking the Olympics, hockey, basketball, or even the world of pro wrestling, athletes hold a special place in the hearts of the public. Their wins are inspiring, they act as heroes to many, and sometimes hold the pride of a city, region, or even country within their athletic abilities and accomplishments.

Which is why fans mourn tremendously when a beloved athlete passes on. Sadly, when a person of this stature dies suddenly or heartbreakingly, the grieving can be that much harder to deal with.

Below are 12 of the most tragic athlete deaths that have occurred over the years.

12. Payne Stewart

Golfer Payne Steward had quite the career. He won eleven major golfing tournaments — two of those being the U.S. Open. In addition, he was adored by fans who looked forward to seeing his unique dressing style out on the course, with outfits that paid homage to the “golden age” of golf; donning patterned pants, ivy caps, knickerbockers, and more.

Sadly, Stewart passed away in a tragic plane accident on October 25, 1999. After winning his second U.S. Open, he hopped on a private Learjet to fly to Houston. While the reasons are unknown, the cabin within the plane lost pressure and everyone aboard was knocked out. The aircraft continued to fly on autopilot and as the public watched in horror on TV, it crashed in a South Dakota field when fuel ran out.

11. Owen Hart

The world of professional wrestling could have a tragic deaths’ list of its own. However, Owen Hart’s passing in 1999 will forever plague the industry as one of the most heartbreaking losses within the business.

Apart of the legendary Hart family, Owen was a beloved member of the WWE roster, with incredible athleticism, flawless in-ring technique, mixed with high-flying maneuvers. He was a European title holder, a two-time Intercontinental Champion, and held the WWE’s Tag Team Championship on four separate occasions.

During the Over the Edge pay-per-view on May 23, 1999, Owen died in front of a live crowd of over 160,000 (not to mention those watching at home) where he was supposed to float down into the ring via a cable. Sadly, there was a malfunction, and the clasp to the cable released earlier than expected. Owen fell 30 feet into the ring and was declared dead upon arrival to the hospital.

WWE’s decision to move on with the rest of the PPV, despite Owen’s accident, still remains a controversy to this day.

10. 1957-58 Manchester United Team

When it comes to British football — or soccer as many North American fans are familiar with it — Manchester United is an iconic team.

In the ‘50s, the team was on a roll, winning two consecutive English League championships in a row, and working towards their three-peat in 1958. The team that year was composed of some of the best of the best players of that generation.

Sadly, on February 6 of that year, the team boarded a private plane headed to England, with a quick stop in Munich for fuel. A snowstorm hit the area, and while they probably should’ve stayed there the night, the captain chose to take off. The plane hit a huge sludge pile, causing a crash on takeoff. A wing tore off, the plane smashed into a house, and 23 out of the 44 on board died in the accident, which included half of the Manchester United football team.

The loss devastated friends and family of the young talents along with fans everywhere. As a result, the team collapsed within the standings, which took the club over 10 years to get back to their winning course.

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