All of the writers on Bleacher Report have one thing in common: We love to write about sports. Predictions, player profiles, and stats all run in our heads. The great athletes we watch give us plenty of inspiration and encouragement for our work.
Some athletes had their time cut short with us. This year (or season) saw some great people leave us. Their names will no longer be bolded in the headlines of newspapers, magazines, or online articles. Each of these gifted athletes left us with plenty to remember though.
Sean Taylor (Apr. 1, 1983-Nov. 27, 2007)
Taylor was a former NFL free safety for the Washington Redskins. He was considered one of the hardest-hitting secondary players in the league. As a result, he was given the nickname "Meast" by his teammates (refers to a half man, half beast).
In the 2006-2007 season, Taylor was selected as a first alternate to the NFC's Pro Bowl team—his first and only appearance, sadly. This past season, teammates said he had gotten his life together because of his daughter.
At the time of his death, he was tied for the most interceptions in the NFC and second in the league with five, despite missing two games with a knee injury. On Dec. 18, 2007, Taylor was voted to his second Pro Bowl, becoming the first player in NFL history to be elected to the game after his death.
Luc Bourdon (February 16, 1987-May 29, 2008)
The hockey world didn't get to see the best of this young man's play. Bourdon nearly made the Vancouver Canucks lineup as an 18-year-old, but continued to play in the QMJHL. He signed a three-year contract with the Canucks on May 4, 2006, and in doing so, earned a spot on the team's roster the next season.
He scored his first goal on Nov. 16, 2007 against the Minnesota Wild. Bourdon tallied two goals in 27 games that year, and was speculated to be part of a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the 2006 World Junior Championships, he led all defensemen in scoring with six points in as many games and was named to the tournament's all-star team. The following year, he'd win another gold with Canada at the World Junior's in Sweden. Luc Bourdon had a bright future indeed.
Mickey Renaud (October 5, 1988-February 18, 2008)
I'm not sure how many of you know this name, but Mickey Renaud played for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL. I am a resident of Windsor, so this really took me by surprise.
Renaud was the captain of the team and a 2007 draft pick of the Calgary Flames. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see him play because I don't follow the OHL too much. His No. 18 was retired the day after his death, and the banner will be raised next month when the new season arrives.
Like Bourdon, the world didn't get to see the best of Renaud on the ice.
Agata Mroz-Olszewska (April 7, 1982-June 4, 2008)
Another name many may not be familiar with. Olszewska was a Polish volleyball player and captain of the women's national team. She played for BKS Stal Bielsko-Biala, where she was champion of Poland in 2003 and 2004.
Gruppo 2002 Murcia was a Spanish team she represented later on in her career. With her, the team won both the Championship of Spain and Cup of Spain tournament. Her volleyball career was cut short by a bone-marrow disease.
The Polish National Soccer Squad honoured her before their match in Euro 2008 against Germany. I am of Polish heritage, and it's always tough to hear about fellow countrymen or women passing away.
Terrence Kiel (November 24, 1980-July 4, 2008)
Kiel was a safety in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers. In four seasons with the team, he played in 59 games. Before his death, Kiel was having many problems in his personal life.
Didn't shine in the NFL quite yet, but made his mark in college football. In his sophomore year, Kiel made 57 tackles for Texas A&M University. His senior year saw him receive All-Big 12 honorable mention honors by the league's coaches after posting 95 tackles (team high).
Terrence Kiel may have been able to turn his life around off the field and become a great player on it.
Heath Benedict (June 30, 1983-March 26, 2008)
Benedict was a Dutch-American football player, and he was considered to be one of the top offensive linemen prospects for the 2008 NFL Draft. He transferred from Riverside High School in Greer to the Peddie School in New Jersey to play football.
That was where Benedict got his "A" game. In 2003, he was considered the top football prospect in New Jersey. The University of Tennessee was where he signed, but he decided to play as a right tackle at Newberry College.
Leaving school to go after an NFL career, he participated in the Senior Bowl, along with the NFL Scouting Combine. Another young career taken away.
It's always a shame to see athletes pass away at the brink of their career. It can happen anytime, anywhere. So next time one of us decides to bash on an athlete for his or her performance, let's take a moment to think about it first.
We must remember that they give it their all for the fans, and we enjoy watching them play the games they were meant for. These people may not be with us any longer, but forgotten? No way.
I want to say thank you to each of these athletes for everything they gave us. Rest in peace.