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Sports figures we lost in 2022

Mike Leach, Bill Russell and Tony Siragusa are just a few of the many sports figures who died in 2022.

WASHINGTON — One of the most influential football coaches in history. An NBA great who anchored a basketball dynasty. And a Hall of Fame broadcaster whose career spanned more than six decades. 

The world this year said goodbye to many key figures who left a lasting impact on their respective sports.  

Here are legends and the people behind the scenes that the sports world lost in 2022.

MORE: Entertainers we lost in 2022

MORE: Newsmakers we lost in 2022

Dan Reeves, 77. He won a Super Bowl as a player with the Dallas Cowboys but was best known for a long coaching career that included four blowout losses in the title game with the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons. Jan. 1. 

John Landy, 91. An Australian runner who dueled with Roger Bannister to be the first person to run a four-minute mile. Feb. 24.

Shane Warne, 52. He was regarded as one of the greatest players, most astute tacticians and ultimate competitors in the long history of cricket. March 4.

John Clayton, 67. One of the country's leading NFL insiders who had a 20-plus-year career at ESPN and covered the NFL for five decades. March 18. 

Credit: AP
John "The Professor" Clayton, an NFL football writer and reporter for ESPN, stands on the sideline during an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Shirley Spork, 94. One of the last survivors of the 13 women who founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1950. April 12. 

Bob Lanier, 73. The left-handed big man who muscled up beside the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as one of the NBA’s top players of the 1970s. May 10.

Tony Siragusa, 55. The charismatic defensive tackle who was part of one of the most celebrated defenses in NFL history with the Baltimore Ravens. June 22.

Jaylon Ferguson, 26. Baltimore Ravens linebacker known as "Sack Daddy" during his college football career and held the FBS record for career sacks with 45. Died from combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine. June 21. 

Bill Russell, 88. The NBA great who anchored a Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years — the last two as the first Black head coach in any major U.S. sport — and marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. July 31.

Credit: AP
FILE - Former NBA great Bill Russell speaks during a news conference at the NBA All-Star basketball weekend, Feb. 14, 2009, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, file)

Vin Scully, 94. A Hall of Fame broadcaster who called thousands of games involving the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers during his 67 years in the booth. Aug. 2.

Len Dawson, 87. The Hall of Fame quarterback whose unmistakable swagger in helping the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title earned him the nickname “Lenny the Cool.” Aug. 24.

Lance Mackey, 52. The four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race winner was one of mushing’s most colorful and accomplished champions but also suffered from health and drug issues. Sept. 7.

Elias Theodorou, 34. Charismatic mixed martial artist who campaigned successfully for the right to use medical marijuana as an athlete. Died of liver cancer on Sept. 11. 

Kalani David, 24. Former world junior surfing champion. Died after suffering a seizure while surfing off the coast of Costa Rica. Sept. 17. 

Antonio Inoki, 79. A popular Japanese professional wrestler and lawmaker who faced boxing great Muhammad Ali in a mixed martial arts match in 1976. Oct. 1.

Bruce Sutter, 69. Hall of Fame reliever and the 1979 Cy Young winner. Oct. 13. 

Tony Brown, 55. Officiated more than 1,100 NBA games over almost two decades. Oct. 20. 

Ray Guy, 72. The first punter to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nov. 3.

Coy Gibbs, 49. The vice chairman of Joe Gibbs Racing for his NFL and NASCAR Hall of Fame father. Died just hours after his son won the Xfinity Series championship. Nov. 5. 

Doddie Weir, 52. A former Scotland rugby player whose diagnosis with Lou Gehrig’s disease led to a widely praised campaign for more research into ALS. Nov. 26.

Gaylord Perry, 84. The Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner was a master of the spitball who wrote a book about using pitch. Dec. 1.

Mills Lane, 85. The Hall of Fame boxing referee who was the third man in the ring when Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield’s ear. Dec. 6. 

Grant Wahl, 49. American journalist who wrote for Sports Illustrated for more than two decades and was a major voice informing an American public of soccer during a time of increased interest. Died on Dec. 9 while in Qatar covering the World Cup. His family later said he died from an aneurysm in his heart that ruptured.

Credit: AP
A screenshot taken from video provided by FIFA of journalist Grant Wahl at an awards ceremony in Doha, Qatar in Nov. 2022.

Paul Silas, 79. Touched the NBA as a player, coach and president of the National Basketball Players Association. Dec. 11.

Mike Leach, 61. The gruff, pioneering and unfiltered college football coach who helped revolutionize the passing game with the Air Raid offense. Dec. 13. 

Demetrious Johnson, 61. A St. Louis native who played for five seasons in the NFL and in retirement helped thousands through a charitable foundation that bore his name. Dec. 24. 

Pelé, 82. Pelé was the Brazilian king of soccer who won a record three World Cups and became one of the most commanding sports figures of the last century. Dec. 29.

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