List of basketball players who died during their careers

This is a list of basketball players with notable careers, who died while still on a team roster or a free agent. Majority died of car or plane crash. Many committed suicide. Some suffered sudden cardiac death, which has a higher incidence in basketball among young athletes.[1][2] Some suffered from the heart condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,[3] which is more common in African Americans. Basketball has a considerably higher ratio of African-Americans than other sports.[4] Other deaths were caused by drug abuse.[5]

Included are players in the NBA, college, and other leagues. Players who died following the conclusion of their career should not be included. Players are listed with the team for which they last played before death, rather than the team with which the player spent most of their playing career.

Basketball teams may honor active players who died by bestowing upon them a posthumous honor of a retired number.

Deaths of active players with individually notable careersEdit

Name Age Position Team League Retired number Cause of Death Year Ref.
Davide Ancilotto 23 Shooting guard Virtus Roma Lega Basket Serie A 4 brain ischemia 1997 [6]
Ricky Berry 24 Small forward Sacramento Kings NBA 34 by San Jose State suicide by gunshot 1989 [7]
Len Bias 22 Small forward Boston Celtics NBA heart attack 1986 [8]
Haris Brkić 26 Small forward Partizan YUBA homicide by gunshot 2000 [9]
Gilbert Bulawan 29 Power forward / Center Blackwater Elite PBA 11 heart enlargement (collapsed during practice) 2016 [10]
Terrence Clarke 19 Shooting guard Kentucky Wildcats NCAA car crash 2021 [11]
Jason Collier 28 Center Atlanta Hawks NBA heart condition 2005 [12]
Bryce Dejean-Jones 23 Shooting guard New Orleans Pelicans NBA homicide by gunshot 2016 [13]
Patrick Dennehy 21 Center Baylor Bears NCAA homicide by gunshot 2003 [14]
Wayne Estes 21 Forward Utah State Aggies NCAA 33 accidental electrocution 1965 [15]
Lavelle Felton 29 Shooting guard Paderborn Baskets ProA homicide by gunshot 2009 [16]
Scott Fenton 24 Shooting guard Perth Wildcats NBL 14 car crash 1989 [17]
Ryan Francis 19 Point guard USC Trojans NCAA homicide by gunshot 2003 [18]
Oscar Frayer 23 Forward Grand Canyon Antelopes NCAA car crash 2021 [19]
Terry Furlow 25 Small forward / Shooting guard Utah Jazz NBA car crash 1980 [20]
Hank Gathers 23 Forward Loyola Marymount Lions NCAA 44 heart condition (collapsed during game) 1990 [21]
Eddie Griffin 25 Power forward / Center Minnesota Timberwolves NBA car crash 2007 [22]
Huck Hartman 25 Center Youngstown Bears NBL pneumonia 1946 [23]
Lauren Hill 19 Forward Mount St. Joseph Lions NCAA brain cancer 2015 [24]
Tyler Honeycutt 27 Small forward BC Khimki EuroLeague suicide by gunshot 2018 [25]
Stevan Jelovac 32 Power forward / Center AEK Athens Greek Basket League 13 stroke (collapsed during practice) 2021 [26]
Radivoj Korać 30 Power forward Petrarca Padova Serie A car crash 1969 [27]
Connie Kunzmann 24 Forward Nebraska Wranglers WPBL homicide by stabbing 1981 [28]
Wendell Ladner 26 Forward New York Nets ABA 4 (informally) plane crash 1975 [29]
Reggie Lewis 27 Small forward Boston Celtics NBA 35 heart attack (collapsed during practice) 1993 [30]
Fernando Martín Espina 27 Power forward / Center Real Madrid Baloncesto Liga ACB 10 car crash 1989 [31]
Jovan Manović 29 Point guard AS Prishtina KBS homicide by gunshot 2007 [32]
Conrad McRae 29 Power forward / Center Orlando Magic NBA heart enlargement (collapsed during practice) 2000 [33][34]
Fab Melo 26 Center Brasília NBB heart attack (died in sleep) 2017 [35]
Michael Ojo 27 Center Crvena zvezda ABA heart attack (collapsed during practice) 2020 [36]
Kim Perrot 32 Point guard Houston Comets WNBA 10; 12 by Ragin' Cajuns lung cancer 1999 [37]
Dražen Petrović 28 Shooting guard New Jersey Nets NBA 3; 10 by Cibona car crash 1993 [38]
Bobby Phills 30 Shooting guard Charlotte Hornets NBA 13 car crash 2000 [39]
Slobodan Popović 24 Forward Crvena zvezda Yugoslav League groin injury complication 1968 [40]
John Postley 30 Forward/Center Wilkes-Barre Barons EPBL heart attack 1970 [41]
Katrina Price 23 Shooting guard Philadelphia Rage ABL suicide by gunshot 1999 [42]
Bill Robinzine 29 Power forward Utah Jazz NBA suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning 1982 [43]
Malik Sealy 30 Small forward / Shooting guard Minnesota Timberwolves NBA 2 car crash 2000 [44]
Marvin Stone 26 Center Al-Ittihad SPL heart attack (collapsed during halftime) 2008 [45]
Chris Street 20 Power forward Iowa Hawkeyes NCAA 40 car crash 1993 [46]
Tauras Stumbrys 34 Point guard Atletas Kaunas LKL heart attack (collapsed during the match) 2004 [47]
Örlygur Aron Sturluson 18 Point guard Njarðvík Úrvalsdeild karla accidental fall 2000 [48]
Robert Traylor 34 Power forward / Center Vaqueros de Bayamón BSN heart attack 2011 [49]
Zeke Upshaw 26 Small forward Grand Rapids Drive G League cardiac arrest (collapsed during game) 2018 [50]
Nick Vanos 24 Center Phoenix Suns NBA 32 by Santa Clara Broncos plane crash 1987 [51]
Luciano Vendemini 24 Center ChinaMartini Torino Lega Basket Serie A 7 by ChinaMartini Torino heart failure (undiagnosed Marfan's syndrome) 1977 [52]

Evansville Purple Aces plane crashEdit

Fourteen members of the 1977–78 Evansville Purple Aces men's basketball team died in a plane crash on December 13 1977, along with fifteen others including head coach Bobby Watson. The players killed were:

  • Seniors: Kevin Kingston, John Ed Washington, and Marion Anthony “Tony” Windburn
  • Juniors: Stephen Miller and Bryan Taylor
  • Sophomores: Keith Moon
  • Freshmen: Warren Alston, Ray Comandella, Mike Duff, Kraig Heckendorn, Michael Joyner, Barney Lewis, Greg Smith, and Mark Siegel

Freshman David Furr, the lone member of the team who did not board Air Indiana Flight 216, died two weeks later in a car crash, meaning all the members of the team died during the 1977–78 season.[53]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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