At age 57 of a heart attack, former NFL linebacker Brad Van Pelt (above). Atremendous all-around athlete, Van Pelt lettered in football, basketball andbaseball at Michigan State. After he won the Maxwell Award as the nation's topcollege player in 1972, the Giants chose him in the '73 draft. He made five ProBowl appearances in 11 years with New York, and he was named the team's playerof the decade. "He really was like a movie star: talented andgood-looking," former Michigan State football coach George Perles said."Brad had a big heart and was a real giver. He carried a lot of people whenhe was on top."
At 64 of complications from diabetes, Jazz owner Larry Miller. A Salt Lake Citycar dealer, Miller bought the team in 1985 when it appeared the Jazz was on theverge of a move to Miami, and soon he became one of the NBA's more visibleowners. "We can only wish that we leave this earth as gracefully asLarry," former Jazz forward Karl Malone, who spent five days with Millerlast summer after the owner suffered a heart attack, told the Salt Lake CityTribune. "Right to the end, he did it on his own terms."
At age 46 of carbon monoxide poisoning, 1996 Olympic beach volleyball silvermedalist Mike Whitmarsh (below). The San Diego County medical examiner ruledhis death a suicide. Whitmarsh teamed with Mike Dodd to reach the finals at theAtlanta Games; they were defeated by fellow Americans Karch Kiraly and KentSteffes. A basketball player at the University of San Diego, the 6'7"Whitmarsh led the Toreros in scoring, rebounding and assists in 1984, finishingsecond by two votes to Gonzaga's John Stockton for the West Coast Conferenceplayer of the year award. Two years later he took up beach volleyball; he won28 tour events in his career.
Of a pulmonary embolism at age 26 after collapsing in training, Poland's KamilaSkolimowska, who won the gold medal in the women's hammer throw at age 17 inthe 2000 Olympics. Skolimowska failed to win a medal in Athens and Beijing, andin recent years she worked for the Warsaw police department.
By SI.com, that one of the top prospects in the Nationals' farm systemfalsified his name and birth records. In the summer of 2006 Washington thoughtit was signing 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez and gave him aclub-record $1.4 million signing bonus. But four sources confirmed to SI.comlast week that Gonzalez is actually Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, and he is fouryears older than was thought. Gonzalez led the Gulf Coast Rookie League inhitting last year (.343), but as one scout who has seen him play said,"Those are great numbers, but you should be hitting that well if you'rethat much older than your competition."
In the death of a 97-year-old man, former pro wrestling champion Verne Gagne,82. Helmut Gutmann died three weeks after allegedly being injured in a fightwith Gagne at a Bloomington, Minn., nursing home, where both men were beingtreated for Alzheimer's. (Police are investigating.) Gagne played briefly forthe Packers before turning to pro wrestling. He won several belts, and as theowner of the American Wrestling Association he helped launch the careers ofHulk Hogan and Jesse (the Body) Ventura.
By U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, that the positive results of threesteroid tests are inadmissible in the perjury trial of Barry Bonds. Illstonalso threw out what the prosecution says are doping calendars for Bondsmaintained by his personal trainer, Greg Anderson. Illston said that theprosecution could not prove that the tests belonged to Bonds and that thecalendars could not be admitted without corroboration from Anderson, who isrefusing to testify. The ruling harms but does not cripple the case againstBonds, who is charged with lying to a grand jury about steroid use. His trialis scheduled to begin on March 2.
They Said It
Former Princeton basketball coach, after the school had put his name on itscourt and raised a likeness of him to the rafters last week: "First youwalk all over me, and now you hang me."
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
According to the website of Findlay Prep, a basketballfactory in Nevada, "At least one night a week the team enjoys one ofVegas's famous resort buffets."
NFL/WIREIMAGE.COM (VAN PELT)
ROSS DETTMAN/SPORTSCHROME (WHITMARSH)
STEPHEN GOLDSMITH/PRINCETONBASKETBALL.COM (CARRIL)