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Notable deaths in sports in 2022

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Jan 02, 2023 - 12:47 AM

ISTANBUL (AA) – The world of sports mourned several well-known athletes in 2022, including former US basketball player Bill Russell, ex-Serbian defender Sinisa Mihajlovic and Brazilian football legend Pele.

Russell, a Boston Celtics veteran, died in July, while Mihajlovic and Pele passed away at the very end of year.

Mihajlovic, 53, a former Serbian head coach, and Lazio and Inter Milan defender, died after having battled cancer for three years.

One of the monumental football figures, Pele lost his fight against colon cancer.

Bill Russell, NBA All-Star legend

Russell, who played in the NBA from 1956-69, was one of the famed centers in the league’s history.

Nicknamed “The Secretary of Defense,” Russell was a legendary center for the Boston Celtics, who clinched 11 NBA titles and made it to the All-Star team 12 times.

He was named MVP on five separate occasions during his career with the Celtics – 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1965 – behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won the award six times.

In 2011, Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his accomplishments on the court and in the civil rights movement.

Russell died on July 31. He was 88.

Mihajlovic, Serie A legend

Mihajlovic, who made appearances for Italian Serie A clubs, died on Dec. 16 after a long battle with leukemia.

He was a famed player of his generation and played for Italy’s top-tier sides including Lazio, Inter Milan, Roma, and Sampdoria.

His most successful stint was during six seasons at Lazio, where he helped the club win the 2000 Serie A title.

Mihajlovic won the 2006 title with Inter.

The Serbian star accepted the head coaching position with Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Milan, as well as the Serbian national team.

Pele, ‘O Rei’

Nicknamed “the Black Pearl,” Brazilian football icon Pele died on Dec. 29 at age 82 after a long battle with cancer.

Pele was the all-time leading scorer in the history of sports with 1,283 goals in 1,363 matches during a glittering career from 1957 to 1977.

Also nicknamed “O Rei,” or “The King,” he is considered one of the greatest players of all time. He led his nation to a record three World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

Starting his club career with Santos at age 15, Pele won six Brazilian Serie A titles, two Copa Libertadores titles, and the Intercontinental Cup for Santos.

He ended his career with the New York Cosmos, where he played for two seasons, winning one national title.

Francisco Gento, Real Madrid legend

Gento, the only football star to clinch six European Cup titles, died on Jan. 18 at age 88.

The former left winger made appearances with Real Madrid for 18 years (1953-1971) and his 23 trophies with Los Blancos is a record which he shares with Brazilian defender Marcelo.

He scored 182 goals in 600 matches for Real Madrid and led them to 12 Spanish La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, an Intercontinental Cup, a Mini World Cup, and two Latin Cups.

In 2016, Gento was named honorary president of the team.

He represented the Spanish national team at the 1962 and 1966 World Cup tournaments, having 43 caps for La Roja.

Bob Lanier, NBA star

Lanier, who spent 14 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks, died on May 10 after a brief illness. He was 73.

Lanier was among the most talented centers in the NBA history, averaging 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds throughout his career.

The standout big man was an eight-time All-Star and voted MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game.

His death was confirmed by the National Basketball Association but the cause was not disclosed.

Boxer Earnie Shavers

Shavers is considered boxing’s one of hardest punchers of all time and was a two-time world heavyweight championship holder.

The “Black Destroyer” retired from the game with a record 74 wins, 68 by knockout, in a 26-year career that lasted from 1969 to 1995.

Shavers faced legendary Muhammad Ali on Sept. 29, 1977.

Ali won in a 15-round decision to retain the heavyweight title of the world.

Deon Lendore, Olympic athlete

Lendore died on Jan. 10 in a head-on crash in the US state of Texas.

The 2012 London Olympic bronze medalist, who also represented Trinidad & Tobago in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Games, won five world medals, with a gold in the 4x400m relay at the IAAF World Relays in 2019.

The 400m runner won the respected Bowerman Award, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s highest individual honor, for track and field.

He was 29.

Eduardo Romero, golfer

Romero won more than 80 professional tournaments around the world throughout his career.

Nicknamed “El Gato,” or “The Cat,” he represented Argentina at the World Cup of Golf on 14 occasions.

He died on Feb. 13 at age 67 after battling cancer.

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