Few people on this list showed as much loyalty to a franchise as Lasorda. He spent seven decades with the Dodgers as a player and also as a coach. The fact that they were in Brooklyn when he joined them says a lot. Then, he won a couple of World Series titles in Los Angeles as their head coach. It was a remarkable achievement because of his unwavering commitment.
Lasorda also helped his team to four National League pennants. He lived a wholesome life outside of baseball. He died at the age of 93 and left behind his wife of 70 years (via CNN). The Dodgers star passed away from natural causes. He had the respect of the baseball world and nobody had a bad thing to say about him. In the end, nobody can ask for more than that.
Brennan helped transform the fortunes of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. He was the definition of a college football star. even if Brennan failed to light up the NFL. Brennan set multiple NCAA records and the Redskins selected him in 2008. He spent three seasons with Washington before moving to the Oakland Raiders. But he never played a regular-season game for either franchise.
Then he bounced around Canada without making much of an impact. Unfortunately, the former college star’s life deteriorated. Hawaiian police arrested him on DUI charges multiple times. Finally, in May 2021, Brennan passed away at the age of just 37. An autopsy revealed fentanyl in Brennan’s system. Tragically, a hospital rejected him because they didn’t have any beds (via Fox News).
This was one of the most tragic deaths in 2021. Thomas was an excellent wide receiver for the Broncos and won a Super Bowl. The four-time Pro Bowler also played for the Texans and the Patriots. He suffered a seizure in December and sadly passed away. Thomas was only 33 years old and retired six months earlier. The seizure occurred after a car crash in 2019.
Former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels revealed his agony when he heard the news. He spoke to ESPN and revealed that the loss affected him a lot. “He was the best person I have ever coached,” McDaniels said. “What an incredible human being. I’m so sad for his family and all who knew him. Loved DT.” There’s no doubt that Thomas left this world too early.
Baylor started his career in Minneapolis before the Lakers moved to Los Angeles. He was one of their greatest ever players and set an incredible number of records. Although he never won a championship ring, he was still a superstar. According to The Guardian, his shooting average was the third-highest in NBA history. Only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain had greater records than his 27.4 points per game.
The Lakers legend made the Hall of Fame in 1977. After this, fans and the NBA regularly recognized him as one of the greatest living players. Baylor’s family was by his side when he passed away at the age of 86. While his death was sad, he also lived a great life. Baylor departed to the adulation of fans who respected his incredible achievements.
Aaron was another massive loss in 2021. The MLB icon passed away at the age of 86 from natural causes. He lived an incredible life as an athlete and as a civil rights leader. First, Aaron was a brilliant baseball player. He held the home runs record for 33 years with a total of 755. Barry Bonds broke it in 2007 but that comes with an asterisk (via Herald & Review).
Many people regard the 25-time All-Star as one of the greatest ever. He won a World Series with the Braves in 1957. Meanwhile, Aaron was a crucial figure in American society. This was because of his standing as a black man in a white-dominated sport. Aaron received many death threats throughout his life but he never gave in. He lived a great life and departed with the love of most baseball fans.
Madden is an NFL icon for many reasons. After his playing career with the Eagles was cut short, he moved into coaching. After he cut his teeth in the college game, he joined the Raiders as a linebacker coach. In 1969, he eventually became their head coach and brought them glory. The franchise legend won Super Bowl XI in 1977 as he turned them into a powerhouse (via People).
He walked away because of illness and burnout after 10 winning seasons. Next, Madden moved into the world of broadcasting where he became an adored figure. The multi-Emmy Award winner became the face of the EA Madden NFL video game series. It’s safe to say that more children know his name because of a video game than his achievements as a coach. Madden passed away on December 28 at the age of 85 and left a lasting legacy as one of the true legends of pro football.