From Kobe to Maradona, a year of staggering losses in sports
Not long after came a seismic jolt, the helicopter crash of Kobe Bryant in the fog-shrouded California hills that reverberated across sports and across continents. Deep into the year, a bookend to Bryant, Diego Maradona died from a heart attack in Argentina weeks after brain surgery, the waves of grief rippling across soccer. The losses, of course, came against a backdrop of a pandemic, its number of fatalities rolled out daily on TV screens. Niekro won 318 games and pitched until he was 48, his knuckleball dancing and mystifying batters across the decades. Kurt Thomas in 1978 became the first U.S. male gymnast to win a world title but lost an Olympic shot in 1980 because of the boycott.
Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2020
The world also said goodbye to U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement who died in July. Other former political figures who died this year include Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, New York Mayor David Dinkins, Arizona Gov. Here is a roll call of some influential figures who died in 2020 (cause of death cited for younger people, if available):___JANUARY___David Stern, 77. The guitarist who supplied the scratching, seething sound that fueled the highly influential British punk band Gang of Four. He fused African rhythms with funk to become one of the most influential musicians in world dance music.
Rafer Johnson, 1960 Olympic decathlon champion, dies at 86
Rafer Johnson, who won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy's assassin in 1968, died Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo)LOS ANGELES – Rafer Johnson, who won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin in 1968, died Wednesday. Johnson won a gold medal at the Pan American Games in 1955 while competing in just his fourth decathlon. Johnson, Yang, and Kuznetzov had their way with the record books between the 1956 and 1960 Olympics. Johnson won over the Soviet audience with his gutsy performance in front of what had been a hostile crowd.