The sports figures we've lost in 2023

The sports figures we've lost in 2023

Join us as we look back on some of the sports world's most legendary names

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: AP

Here’s a look at some of the athletes and sports figures we’ve lost in 2023, including hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, Heisman Trophy winner Charles White, college basketball announcer Billy Packer, pro wrestler Jay Briscoe, former Boston Celtic Chris Ford, and A’s infielder Sal Bando.

Advertisement

2 / 16

Bobby Beathard - Jan. 30

Bobby Beathard - Jan. 30

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: AP

Bobby Beathard, an exec who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2018, died on Monday. His son Casey told The Washington Post that his father, 86, died from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

He was part of the front office for four Super Bowl-winning teams — two in Miami, and two in Washington.

After serving as a scout for the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, Beathard was director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins from 1972 — when the team went undefeated — until 1977. He was the GM of the then-Redskins from 1978-88, hiring coach Joe Gibbs, and drafting Hall of Famers Art Monk, Russ Grimm, and Darrell Green.

He also selected notorious draft bust Ryan Leaf as the Chargers’ GM.

Advertisement

3 / 16

Bobby Hull - Jan. 30

Bobby Hull - Jan. 30

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: AP

Bobby Hull, the hockey Hall of Famer known as “The Golden Jet” died, his former team the Chicago Blackhawks announced on Monday.

The winger, whose NHL career lasted from 1958 until 1980, was 84.

Hull played in 1,063 games for the Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, and Hartford Whalers, tallying 1,170 points A 12-time All-star, he won a Stanley Cup in 1961. Hull is Chicago’s all-time leading goal scorer with 604, including 98 game-winners.

Hull was inducted into hockey’s Hall of Fame in 1983. His son, Brett, was enshrined in 2009. They are the only father-and-son duo to each win the Hart Trophy.

Advertisement

4 / 16

Billy Packer - Jan. 26

Billy Packer - Jan. 26

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: Getty Images

College basketball announcer Billy Packer died Thursday, according to a tweet from his son, Mark. He was 82.

During his broadcast career, Packer worked 34 Final Fours for both NBC and CBS. He was a color analyst or play-by-play guy for each tournament between 1975-2008.

Mark told The Associated Press that his dad had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer told AP. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Advertisement

5 / 16

Bill Schonely - Jan. 21

Bill Schonely - Jan. 21

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: AP

Longtime Portland Trailblazers play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely died Saturday. He was 93.

Schonely served as the team’s play-by-play guy from its inaugural season in 1970 until 1998. Known as “The Schwonz,” he coined the term “Rip City.”

Advertisement

6 / 16

Sal Bando - Jan. 20

Sal Bando - Jan. 20

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: AP

Former MLB infielder and executive Sal Bando died Friday after a battle with cancer. Bando spent 16 years in the majors, including 11 in Oakland, winning three World Series trophies with the A’s in the early ‘70s.

The four-time All-Star finished his career with the Brewers, later serving as Milwaukee’s GM from 1991-99.

“It is with a heavy heart, the Bando family is sad to announce the passing of its beloved husband and father, Sal, who last night lost his battle with cancer that began over five years ago,” the Bando family said in a statement on Saturday. “Sandy, Sal’s wife of 54 years, and sons Sal Jr., Sonny and Stef, send their love to family, friends and fans who mourn the loss of a humble and faithful man.”

Bando batted .254, slugged 242 home runs, and is a member of the A’s Hall of Fame. Outside of baseball, he had a cameo on a 2006 episode of “The Simpsons.” He was 78.

Advertisement

7 / 16

Anton Walkes - Jan. 18

Anton Walkes - Jan. 18

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: Getty Images

MLS defender Anton Walkes died in a boating accident Thursday. He was 25.

Walkes was a member of Charlotte FC, who drafted him in the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft. The England native previously played for Tottenham, Portsmouth, and Atlanta United.

Advertisement

8 / 16

Jay Briscoe - Jan. 17

Jay Briscoe - Jan. 17

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Screenshot: Ring of Honor

One-half of the best professional wrestling tag team of all-time to never get a chance in a major promotion died Tuesday night. Jay Briscoe was involved in a fatal car crash in Laurel, Delaware. Briscoe, whose real name was Jamin Pugh, was 38.

Delaware State Police were investigating the fatal two-car crash where a 27-year-old female driver veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with Briscoe’s truck. The female driver of the other vehicle was wearing her seatbelt, while Briscoe was not. Both were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Briscoe’s 12- and 9-year-old daughters were in the truck at the time of the crash and both wearing their seatbelts. Both were admitted to a local hospital in critical condition.

Briscoe was most widely known for his work alongside his brother, Mark Briscoe (real name Mark Pugh), as two of the founding fathers of Ring of Honor. The Briscoe Brothers were 13-time ROH World Tag Team Champions.

Read more here.

Advertisement

9 / 16

Chris Ford - Jan. 16

Chris Ford - Jan. 16

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: AP

Former NBA player and coach Chris Ford died, his family announced through his former team, the Boston Celtics.

Ford was a member of the C’s 1981 NBA championship squad. He is credited with recording the sport’s first-ever 3-pointer.

He is one of four former Celtics to have won championships as both a player and coach, joining Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, and Jones. Ford was 74.

Advertisement

10 / 16

Frank Thomas - Jan. 16

Frank Thomas - Jan. 16

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: Getty Images

Former three-time All-Star Frank Thomas, who was with the New York Mets for their inaugural season, died on Monday, the team announced. He was 93.

For his career, Thomas batted .266 with 286 home runs. The OF/3B also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, the then-Milwaukee Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Houston Astros.

Advertisement

11 / 16

Charles White - Jan. 11

Charles White - Jan. 11

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: Getty Images

Former Heisman Trophy winner Charles White died Wednesday. The star USC running back, who rushed for a still-standing school record 6,245 yards, was 64. The cause of death was cancer, according to the school.

White was Rose Bowl MVP in 1979 — the year he won the Heisman, and several other awards — and 1980. He was a key member of USC’s 1978 national title-winning squad.

White played nine seasons in the NFL with the Browns and Rams, leading the league in rushing in 1987.

A College Football Hall of Famer, White told Sports Illustrated that he smoked marijuana “almost daily” while at Southern Cal and tried cocaine a few weeks prior to the 1977 Rose Bowl. He dealt with drug and alcohol abuse and eventually sold his Heisman. 

“Charles White was one of the all-time great Trojans,” USC athletic director Mike Bohn said.

Advertisement

12 / 16

Gianluca Vialli - Jan. 6

Gianluca Vialli - Jan. 6

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: Getty Images

Former striker for Chelsea, Juventus, and Italy’s men’s national team, Gianluca Vialli died Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 58.

“I know that I probably will not die of old age, I hope to live as long as possible, but I feel much more fragile than before,” Vialli had said in a Netflix documentary.

He scored 167 career club goals, and 16 with Gli Azzurri. Vialli was on the Italy squad that finished third at the 1990 World Cup.

Vialli also spent time as manager of Chelsea, Watford, and as an assistant with the Italian national team. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017.

Advertisement

13 / 16

Nate Colbert - Jan. 5

Nate Colbert - Jan. 5

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: Getty Images

Nate Colbert, the San Diego Padres’ all-time home runs leader, died on Jan. 5. He was 76.

The slugging first baseman joined the then-expansion squad in 1969, and was a three-time All-Star with the club.

During his time with San Diego, Colbert hit 163 of his career 173 round trippers.

Colbert spent 12 seasons in the majors with the Houston Astros, Padres, Detroit Tigers, Montreal Expos, and Oakland A’s, and also spent time in left field.

He finished eighth in MVP voting in 1972.

“An original member of the Padres in 1969, Nate was a trailblazer in the San Diego sports community. He was a three-time National League All-Star in brown and gold and became the Padres’ all-time home run king (163), a record that still stands today,” team chairman Peter Seidler said. 

Advertisement

14 / 16

Cliff Gustafson - Jan. 2

Cliff Gustafson - Jan. 2

Former Texas Longhorns baseball coach Cliff Gustafson died on Jan. 2 at 91.

He guided the Longhorns to two College World Series titles in 1975 and 1983. Gustafson compiled a 1,466–377–2 record with Texas, and won 11 Southwestern Conference tournament titles. He was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Several of his players went on to the majors, most notably Roger Clemens.

Advertisement

15 / 16

Art McNally - Jan. 1

Art McNally - Jan. 1

Image for article titled The sports figures we've lost in 2023
Image: Getty Images

Dubbed the “Father of Instant Replay,” former NFL official Art McNally died on Jan. 1. The Pro Football Hall of Famer — the first official inducted — was 97. He was a field judge for the 1959 season before becoming a referee for the next eight years.

McNally was the NFL’s Supervisor of Officials from 1968 until his 1991 retirement. He introduced instant replay to the league.

Advertisement

16 / 16