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His name once synonymous with the highest ethical standards, “JoePa” died two months after being fired from Penn State — and five months before a report detailed how he covered up sexual abuse by his then-assistant, Jerry Sandusky.
1986: Ronald C. Modra /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
The sports world was sent reeling on May 2, when the widely respected (and, in his hometown of San Diego, beloved) Seau — who had retired as an NFL linebacker less than three years earlier — shot himself at his California home.
2004: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
The ebullient Hall of Fame catcher spent most of his two-decade major league career with the Montreal Expos and New York Mets. Known to all as "The Kid," he was indeed a relative youngster when he died in February, felled by brain cancer.
1986: AP Photo/Tom DiPace
Best known for his work with Muhammad Ali, boxing’s most famous trainer was portrayed in movies by Ron Silver (in Ali) and Ernest Borgnine (in The Greatest). He also trained Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman and Jimmy Ellis.
1995: Mike Powell/ALLSPORT via Getty Images
FOOTBALL TEAM OWNER
A high-school dropout who capped a successful business career with more than four decades as an NFL owner, Modell was reviled in one city and celebrated in another — all a result of his moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996.
1963: James Drake/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
After a 30-year career (his last prizefight was at age 48), the flamboyant and often troubled "Macho" was killed by a gunman in his native Puerto Rico. His body lay in state in Santurce for two days before he was buried in the Bronx.
2005: Clay Patrick McBride /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
The Babe Ruth of bowling was the first U.S. athlete with a $1 million endorsement deal — for Ebonite balls, in 1964. A former minor league baseball player, he was bowler of the year six times in a 10-year span beginning in 1953.
1955: Richard Meek /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
FOOTBALL PLAYER, ACTOR
Before he turned to the screen — as Mongo in Blazing Saddles, as the dad in Webster — he was a star NFL lineman. Shortly before dying he joined former players in suing the league over head injuries they say caused neurological problems.
1971: AP Photo/File
A college star at Notre Dame, he (in red) went on to a solid NBA career with several teams (including the Bulls, Lakers and Pistons) before playing in Italy and then returning home to coach a women’s pro team. He died of a chronic heart condition.
1993: John W. McDonough /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
A Lone Star State icon who lived to see the University of Texas stadium named in his honor, he also coached at Mississippi State and the University of Washington — and had an oft-forgotten playing career as an Oklahoma Sooner.
1970: AP Photo
He never played a game, but few others had a greater impact on modern U.S. sports. As head of the baseball players from 1966 to 1982, he bulldozed open the door to free agency — flipping the power balance between players and owners.
1972: AP Photo
A symbol of the national pastime’s reverence for its history, Pesky was an accomplished infielder in the 1940s and 1950s — and then a coach or manager for most of the next six decades, primarily with the Boston Red Sox organization.
2006: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters/Corbis
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