Athletes and sports stars are often some of the most fit and healthy people on the planet. The need to be able to compete at the highest level means that any professional sportsperson will work with a myriad of physiotherapists and coaches to ensure that they are at the peak of fitness. That doesn’t mean that they can’t suffer from health problems and injuries though. In fact, many sports can be incredibly dangerous thanks to extreme impacts, exhausting contests and high speeds.
This means that, although very rare, deaths can occur in sport. Sometimes they will be the result of freak accidents that cause horrific injuries, other times it will be an unknown but underlying health problem that is exacerbated by the intense action.
One of the most common causes of death for sportsmen is sudden cardiac arrest brought on by heart problems that can be hereditary. Such was the case with the promising basketballer Reggie Lewis. Having spent several seasons with the Boston Celtics, the athlete was taking part in a training session when he collapsed aged just 27. Doctors believed that he had a defective heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is one of the leading causes of death in athletes as it causes the organ to become strained during any exercise.
Welsh international Rugby League player Danny Jones died in 2015 after collapsing during a game while playing for the Keighley Cougars. Play was stopped after the player sustained an injury and he later collapsed in the 16th minute leading to efforts from paramedics to revive him on the pitch. An ambulance then took him to Royal Free Hospital where he died from what doctors suspect was a cardiac arrest.
Professional wrestling has been mired in serious injuries and fatalities since its inception even though those competing are not really fighting. However, drug abuse, heart problems and even accidents in the ring have led to several unfortunate deaths throughout the history of the sport. Owen Hart though was killed when he fell from the rafters above the ring when a safety harness failed and sent him plunging some 70 feet. He received medical attention on-site and at hospital but later passed away due to internal bleeding and blunt force trauma.
Ray Chapman, born January, 1891, is the only Major League Baseball player to have died due to an injury from a game. During a match against the Yankees, pitcher Carl Mays pitched a spitball that hit Chapman on the head with such force that fans heard the impact all around the stadium. He collapsed instantly and was taken to hospital but the damage was far too serious for anything to be done. He died 12 hours later, with his death acting as a catalyst for the banning of spitball pitches and the introduction of batting helmets.