Here are the sports stars who lost their lives in the year 2016.
For many fans of sports, the best moments are the times when they get to meet the main actors involved in the game. Many are those who wish their idols will never die. But as the uncertainties of life have shown, the claws of death do not spare even the sports stars that grace our screens.
Be it football, boxing, formula one, basketball or any other sport; the demise of some of the greats has shown that they are not immortal after all. And as the year comes to a close, Pulse Sports compiles a list of ten (10) of the famous sports stars who lost their lives in 2016.
The legendary Ghanaian coach died after an ambulance conveying him to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital got involved in a fatal accident.
Emmanuel Kwesi Afranie, popularly called E.K. Afranie was the man at the helm when the Black Satellites won silver at the U20 World Cup in 2001. He also coached the Black Starlets to two world cups in 1991 and 1997 before taking charge of the Black Queens in 1997.
E.K. Afranie earlier battled with mild stroke and was receiving treatment at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital. However, he tragically died after being involved in a fatal accident on 9 November, 2016 at age 73.
Ben Koufie died aged 84 having etched his name into the history of Ghana sports. He represented Ghana as a player from 1957 to 1958 and later became the coach of the national team.
He also led Asante Kotoko to the Africa Club Championship in 1971 and Great Olympics to the semi-finals a year later. Ben Koufie served as the president of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) for two years between 2001 and 2003.
He passed away on 4 July, 2016 at the Korle-bu Teaching Hoapital after battling a short illness.
Osam Duodu remains only the second coach – after C.K. Gyamfi – to ever win the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana. His coaching career spanned over two decades at both youth and senior level.
Coach Osam Duodu died at a hospital in Accra on 4 October, 2016 after a short illness.
He also won the 1993 U20 Africa Cup of nations and a silver medal at the world level the same year. Fredrick Osam Duodu was aged 78.
Born as Cassius Clay, the man known as “the greatest” in the boxing world later changed his name to Muhammad Ali after he converted to Islam.
Ali was one of the most celebrated boxers in the 20 Century. His outspoken and controversial nature earned him a lot of fans across the globe. At age 18, he won gold at the lightweight division at the 1960 summer Olympics in Rome. He also won the WBA and WBC titles in a glittering boxing career.
Ali died of septic shock on 3 June, 2016 at age 74 after battling with Parkinson’s disease. In 61 fights, he won 56 (37 by way of knockouts) and lost 5.
The man nicknamed “Pearl” took American basketball by storm in the 80s. Dwayne Washington was a cog in the Syracuse team that was undefeated in the Big East. He was named first-team All-Big East three times and he also won the conference tournament’s Most Valuable Player in 1986.
Dwayne Johnson was diagnosed with brain tumor last year. He had surgery to prevent an escalation but could not survive. He was announced dead by his family on 20 April, 2016. The “Pearl” played for two years for New Jersey in the twilight of his career. He died at age 52.
The Dutch and Barcelona legend revolutionalised football and is credited with the invention of the “tiki taka” playing style. He led his country to the finals of the 1974 World Cup where he made his name.
Yohan Cruyff died on 24 March, 2016 after a hard fought battle with cancer.
As a player Cruyff won the Ballon d’Or three times in 1971, 1973 and 1974. And as a coach he ushered Barcelona into an era of dominance by winning four Spanish titles as well as the European cup. Having played for both Ajax and Barcelona, he is remembered for his “total football” philosophy.
Bill Johnson was the first American skier to win an Olympic downhill title. Unfortunately he died at age 55 after battling a series of stroke attacks.
He was the first American male to win an Olympic gold in any Alpine skiing event. At a point in Johnson’s career he sustained a traumatic brain injury which led to a loss of memory. He had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again.
He eventually recovered but his health deteriorated again due to stroke and he spent much of his time at the assisted living centre near Portland. He died on January 21, 2016.
Arnold Palmer was an American golfer regarded as one of the greatest to ever play the game. He was nicknamed “the king” for his impressive outputs as a golfer.
He was admitted at the hospital to undergo some heart tests but died on September 25, 2016 at the University of Pittsburgh while awaiting surgery.
Arnold Palmer won 62 PGA Tour titles from 1955 to 1973 in a career that spanned over six decades.
William Raymond Smith was an American who played in the National Football League (NFL). The New Orleans player died on April 9, 2016 at age 28.
Smith was involved in a traffic collision with a Hummer in an episode which led a confrontation with the driver (of the Hummer) identified as Cardell Hayes. Hayes is reported to have shot Smith, killing him instantly.
Hayes was arrested at the spot.
Sean Rooks was an American basketball player who later became a coach in the sport. He played for the National Basketball Association 1992 to 2004 and later served as an assistant for player development for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Rooks is reported to have died of an unexpected heart attack on June 7, 2016.