Many athletes are recognized by the devotion and time they spend perfecting and honing their skill. Some athletes devote their entire lives to their sport. Well, these eight athletes are arguably more devoted than anyone else, because they died playing the sport that they love most. Check out their amazing and inspiring stories below.
Number Eight: Chuck Hughes. Chuck Hughes was a rising NFL star in the early 1970s, and he was drafted by the Detroit Lions. At his peak in 1971, Hughes entered the final minutes of a game, and after just a couple minutes, he collapsed, dying due to arteriosclerosis. To this day, his death is still the NFL’s only fatality during a game.
Number Seven: Ray Chapman. Ray Chapman was a baseball player for the Cleveland Indians in 1920. During a game against the New York Yankees, a spitball was thrown that accidentally hit his head. He immediately collapsed and died just hours later.
Number Six: Reggie Lewis. Basketball player Reggie Lewis belonged to the Celtics in the early 1990s. He was incredibly successful and admired by many, and he was making up to $3.3 million per season. At the young age of just 27, Lewis collapsed during a game and died due to heart failure. Though it was rumored he used cocaine frequently, there was no trace of cocaine in his system when he died.
Number Five: Ayrton Senna. Senna is argued to be one of the best Formula 1 drivers of all time. The Brazilian driver dominated Formula 1 for 10 years before he died in 1994 at Italy’s San Marino Grand Prix. He was leading the pack when his vehicle went off track and struck a concrete barrier at the speed of 135 miles per hour. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
Number Four: Todd Skinner. Todd Skinner died in 2006 doing what he loved – free climbing. He was climbing the leaning tower in Yosemite, when his line broke, and he fell 500 feet. He died from the injuries.
Number Three: Dale Earnhardt. Known as “The Intimidator,” Dale Earnhardt was one of the most well-respected NASCAR drivers of all time. He was driving at the Daytona 500 on February 18, 2001 when he suffered a fatal crash during his last lap. The official cause of death was a skull fracture.
Number Two: Bill Masterton. NHL star Bill Masterton is the only player ever to died as a direct result of injuries during a hockey game. He suffered an internal injury from a collision with opponents during a game, and the internal bleeding caused him to die.
Number One: Antonio Puerta. Finally, Spanish football player Antonio Puerta was one of the most famous and well-liked athletes at the time of his death in 2007. He suffered a heart dysplasia that caused him to have several cardiac arrests, and he only played for 30 minutes of a game before he collapsed on the field and died.