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By: Ismael Nunez

When this reporter read that Former Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst, committed back in January 2022 it was so sad. This woman had everything: she was a lawyer and a reporter on a TV show. And then sadness. One has to wonder why is it that the so talented, beautiful, gifted die so young, yet leave their mark like the sun shining upon the earth. The world saw this in Marylin Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Jean Harlow. 

People of Color we see this most of the time. Afro-Americans: Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nat Turner, Charlie Parker, Scott Joplin, Flo Ballard, Minnie Riperton, Billie Holiday. Latin Americans: Che Guevara, Camilo Torres, Jose Mari, Julia De Burgos, The Mirabel Sisters. To add Mexican American singers Selena and Richie Valens.  Native Americans: King Philip, Tecumseh, Crazy Horse. Asians: Bruce Lee.  Activist, Poets, Musicians, Actors, Martial Artists all who passed away before they reached 45 years of age.

Here are a couple of Latin American athletes who passed away before they reached the age of 50:

Brazil-José Carlos Pace (October 6, 1944 – March 18, 1977) was a racing driver from Brazil.  Pace was killed in a private light aircraft accident near São Paulo, Brazil[1] on 18 March 1977. He participated in 73 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting at the 1972 South African Grand Prix. He won one race, achieved six podiums, and scored a total of 58 championship points. He also secured one pole position. 

Ayrton Senna da Silva (21 March 1960 – 1 May 1994) was a Brazilian racing driver who won the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship in 1988, 1990, and 1991. Senna is one of three Formula One drivers from Brazil to win the World Championship and won 41 Grands Prix. Senna was killed after his car crashed into a concrete barrier while he was leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix which took place in Italy.

Cristóbal Torriente (November 16, 1893 – April 11, 1938) called Babe Ruth of Cuba , was a Cuban outfielder in Negro league baseball with multiple teams. He played from 1912 to 1932. He was known to hit long home runs, had good speed, could steal bases, and had fine throwing arm from the outfield. As a result for his many years of consuming alcohol Torriente died in New York City at age 44, after a long battle with alcoholism and tuberculosis. He was elected to the NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME IN 2006.

ROBERTO CLEMENTE-vAugust 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972) was a Puerto Rican professional baseball right fielder who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates.August 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972) was a Puerto Rican professional baseball right fielder who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Considered by many one of the greatest players of all time, one of the greatest Right Fielders of all time. His accomplishments are impressive: He would win 4 batting titles 1961, 64, 65, and 1967.  He’d win 12 Gold Gloves for fielding, would win the Most Valuable player award in 1966. He got 3,000 hits, finished with a lifetime batting average of .317, higher than fellow Baseball Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle. All who played during his time. To add he played key roles when the Pirates would world championships in 1960 against the New York Yankees and in 1971 against the Baltimore Orioles. Clemente was killed on December 31, 1972 in an airplane crash on his way to take badly needed supplies to earthquake Nicaragua victims. For his accomplishments on/off the field, On March 20, 1973,[83] the Baseball Writers’ Association of America held a special election for the Baseball Hall of Fame. They voted to waive the waiting period for Clemente, due to the circumstances of his death, and posthumously elected him for induction into the Hall of Fame, giving him 393 out of 420 available votes, for 92.7% of the vote.

Carlos Teo Rosario Cruz (November 4, 1937 – February 15, 1970) was a boxer from the Dominican Republic. Cruz was world lightweight champion from 1968 to 1969.  On February 15, 1970 Along with his wife, two sons, they were on there way to San Juan when disaster struck.] Their Dominicana de Aviación DC-9 plane crashed into the waters of the Caribbean shortly after take-off, killing Cruz, his family and the rest of the passengers, among which also were a large part of Puerto Rico’s national women’s volleyball team. 

Edwin Valero (3 December 1981 – 19 April 2010) was a Venezuelan professional boxer who fought professionally from 2002 to 2010. He was an undefeated former world champion in two weight classes. He WBA Super Featherweight champion from 2006 to 2008. And held the WBC lightweight title from 2009 to 2010. Was a southpaw with knockout punch. He had record of 27-0 all knockouts. On 18 April 2010, Valero was arrested after police found the body of his 24-year-old wife, Jennifer Carolina Viera de Valero, in a hotel in the city of Valencia, Carabobo she was stabbed three times. At 1:30AM the police found Edwin’s body, he committed suicide  by hanging.

Jose Mendez

Jose Mendez (January 2, 1885 – October 31, 1928) was a Cuban right-handed pitcher and manager in baseball‘s Negro leagues. Known in Cuba as El Diamante Negro (“The Black Diamond“), he became a legend in his homeland. Standing only 5”10 Mendez was not only a brilliant pitcher, yet was fine fielder, and hitter. It was reported during the period of the years 1908 to 1914, Mendez was one of the greatest Negro League pitchers, along with Rube Foster and Smokey Joe Williams. In the Baseball Hall of Fame profiler on Mendez it was stated by Mrs John McGraw(wife of hall of fame manager John McGraw, “Whenever he pitched against the New York Giants he would express regret about the ban that kept Mendez out of the big leagues.”Mendez died on October 31, 1928, Mendez died of pneumonia at the age of 41 in Havana, Cuba. He was elected into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in the year 2006 along with other fellow Cuban Cristóbal Torriente. 

Rafael Osuna Herrera (15 September 1938 – 4 June 1969), nicknamed “El Pelón” (The Bald), was a former world No. 1 tennis player, the most successful player in the history of Mexico and an Olympian. His list of accomplishments: He was singles victory at the U.S. Open Championships in 1963, winning the 1960 and 1963 Wimbledon Doubles championships, the 1962 U.S. Open Championships doubles, and for leading Mexico to its only Davis Cup Final round appearance in 1962. Osuna was on Mexican de Aviation Flight 704 on June 4 1969 when he along with  79 passengers were killed the plane crashed killing all of them on board. The Crash occurred near Monterrey, Nuevo Leo. “Pico Del Fraile”He was only 30 years old. He was elected to the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979.


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