2020 has to be one of the most devastating years when it comes to the loss of truly beloved celebrities. So many were taken in the prime of their lives, like Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman and more.
Celebrity deaths are always difficult for that person’s fans. But in 2020, the world lost some true icons way before their time. The year started with the tragic death of L.A. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 at just 41-years-old. Even more heartbreaking was the fact that his basketball prodigy daughter Gianna, 13, perished along with her dad in the crash. Kobe was in the prime of his life, embracing his second chapter following his retirement from the Lakers in 2016, after bringing Los Angeles five NBA championships. He had already won an Oscar for his Best Animated Short Dear Basketball, and wanted to embrace his new career as a storyteller.
Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant was killed at the age of 41 in a Jan. 2020 helicopter crash. Photo credit: AP Images.
The passing of acclaimed actor Chadwick Boseman is another death that was met with shock and grief worldwide. As Kobe’s basketball skills made him a hero all over the globe, Chadwick’s portrayal of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Black superhero King T’Challa/Black Panther brought admiration and appreciation from audiences around the world. Chadwick also gave moving onscreen portrayals of real life Black trailblazing heroes, including Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson and first Black Supreme Court Justice Thrugood Marshall. Chadwick’s career was cut far too short by colon cancer, which he secretly battled since 2016. He passed away on Aug. 28, 2020 at the age of 43, but his remarkable talent will live on forever in his brief but brilliant film catalog.
Chadwick Boseman greets Kobe Bryant at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018. Kobe would go on to win an Oscar during the ceremony, while Chadwick’s ‘Black Panther’ would gross $1.3 billion in worldwide box office total. In 2020, both of these greats were taken from us. Photo credit: AP Images.
Another talent taken from us way too soon was former Glee star Naya Rivera. The 33-year-old triple threat actress/singer/dancer took her four-year-old son Josey out for a boating trip on Southern California’s Lake Piru on July 8. They went for a swim, but Naya drowned while saving her son’s life, as their pontoon boat got away from them. Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub told reporters that, “The idea perhaps being that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored, and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself.” Her body was recovered from the lake on July 13.
Naya Rivera was beloved to TV audiences thanks to her role as Santana Lopez on Glee. She tragically drown in July 2020. Photo credit: AP Images.
Others lived long lives, but still their deaths broke the hearts of so many. TV icon Regis Philbin passed away from natural causes at the age of 88 on Friday, July 24. In his lifetime, he hosted more than 17,000 hours of television, a Guinness world record. He hosted Live with Regis and Kathie Lee followed by Live with Regis and Kelly from 1983 through 2011, making him a friendly morning show face for almost three decades. He also hosted the popular game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic proved deadly for a number of stars. Iconic country/folk singer-songwriter John Prine died at age 73 on April 10 after battling the coronavirus. COVID also took the life of Broadway star Nick Cordero, who passed away on July 6 at age 41 after battling the virus for 95 days in the hospital. You can see the other stars taken from us in 2020 in our gallery here.