Epic Carnival | Where Sports and Pop Culture Collide: THE 10 MOST TRAGICALLY UNDERPLAYED SPORTS DEATHS OF 2007

THE 10 MOST TRAGICALLY UNDERPLAYED SPORTS DEATHS OF 2007

by Tello Real, Rivalfish

Every year more "sports" deaths then you'd feel comfortable forgetting about pass by the wayside despite the incessant "human" interests of the sports media. This happens because, frankly, the deceased aren't famous enough, or their deaths quite outrageous enough. Determine what that says about us as fans, writers, or humans for yourself, and it's somewhat ridiculous to feel bad about the unavoidable fact that the more famous, young, or both someone is when they die, the bigger news story it will be. And if mentioning the following group of guys does anything for any of the fans, friends, and even family members of those and others whose passing was pushed from the papers by the next signing or injury, I don't even kinda feel bad depressing everyone for the rest of the day.

10. LaRon Cephac - Maryland Terrapins Basketball - 29
By all accounts, as good a guy and as understated a team player as one could find. But what else are they going to say about a guy that died? His career as a Boys & Girls Club director spoke for itself, as did his ongoing friendship with coach Gary Williams and many of his teammates from the 2001 Final Four team.

9. Rod Beck - 12 Year MLB Veteran ('91-'01, '02-'04) - 38
Some rock group called Stroke 9 includes a song on it's 2004 album called "Rod Beck." The song doesn't mention Beck by name and has absolutely nothing to do with baseball, but instead provides a first person account of self doubt and apathetic despair. Three years later, Rod Beck dies of an apparent cocaine overdose after a battle with cocaine addiction that cost him his family and career. Depressing coincidence.

8. Taylor Bradford - University of Memphis Football - 21
As tends to happen, when a young black guy is shot in a car, people question his past, possible gang involvement, and current social circle more than they focus on the loss of the individual himself. Taylor Bradford could have been a future star, or an undrafted free agent, for all we know. Hell, he was a three-state all-stater in high school with shot put records that make no sense to me. Either way, his family will surely miss him just as much as Sean Taylor's misses Sean.

7. Joe Kennedy - Journeyman MLB Prospect - 28
A hoss of a pitcher with a bevy of pitches and a badass nickname (The Patriarch, after JFK and RFK's pops). He died at his in-laws the night before serving as the best man at his best friend's wedding, with his pregnant wife and 1-year-old son at his side. No drugs, no prior health issues, just tragedy. Fuckin' A.

6. George Webster - Michigan State and Houston Oiler Legend - 61
I don't think this was even covered on the mother-station of ass-broadcasting. While 61 when he died, he had lived a life of pain and suffering after football while being denied full disability benefits from the NFL. (Despite being a quadriplegic minus a little tingling in a couple of fingers) And no, I'm not talking about Mike Webster, who won more Super Bowls and therefore had a death apparently more worth reporting.

5. Antonio Puerta - FC Sevilla Midfielder - 22
While this was surely reported widely in Europe, his tragedy deserves a retelling at home. With a pregnant girlfriend, he collapsed mid-game due to a hereditary heart issue... only to get up and walk off the field. He then had a massive heart attack in the locker room about five minutes after realizing he should probably stop playing professional football due to his condition.

4. Darrent Williams - Broncos Defensive Back - 24
Pretty much exactly like Sean Taylor minus the Pro Bowls. Same age, same past, two kids, live-in girlfriend, and even an independent record label startup in his home town of Fort Worth, TX. Yet when he dies, all you see or hear about on the news is that he died in the arms of a more-famous player, Javon Walker, coupled with pictures of JW clad in bloody shirt arriving at Broncos headquarters the morning of the tragedy.

3. Bob Flynn - McDaniel College Men's Basketball Coach - 49
The dorky dad and b-ball lifer that was known to have spent his entire life teaching children the game while keeping it fun and in-perspective. Massive heart-attack, out of nowhere, after re-building one of the small DI programs you've never heard of because they never made the tourney. Said one of his coaching rivals: "I feel like I've lost a brother. I don't know if Bob understood how many lives he touched."

2. Josh Hancock - Journeyman Relief Pitcher - 29
Had one or two too many but still surely thought he was "fine to drive," was texting while driving, and ran into the back of a tow-truck that was stopped in the middle of a lane of highway traffic. Sound like something that could happen to you? Me too. Wear your seatbelt. Had Josh been, he would probably be around today to teach shorties not to drink and drive.

1. Darryl Stingley - Paralyzed Patriots Receiver - 55
Stingley was the ultimate symbol of the violence inherent in professional football. Paralyzed by a completely legal hit from Jack Tatum on a pass up the middle by Steve Grogan. He lived almost thirty years after the accident, only to die from complications associated with its result. While to the NFL and its fans, Darryl and his story is about "15 tragedies ago," to Jack and Steve and everyone that loved Darryl, he's an everyday thought.

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