MUHAMMAD ALI, 74
A man whose status as the Greatest was universally conceded, Ali embraced contradictions. The humanitarian who was pictured kissing children the world over also called Joe Frazier "gorilla," "ugly" and "ignorant." He astutely played to the crowd (read: whites), the same one he openly antagonized by joining the Nation of Islam and refusing to be inducted into the Army, famously stating, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me nigger."
As Ali aged, though, those contradictions melted away, and all that was remembered was the greatness—as a humanitarian and advocate for social change as well as a boxer. The son of a sign painter and a maid, Cassius Clay won Olympic gold at 18 and was the heavyweight champion four years later. As Ali, he won the belt two more times in what was easily the most competitive time the class has ever seen. (Who knows how long his reign would have been had he not been banned for 43 months in his prime for refusing to serve?) Most amazing, perhaps, was his ability to turn even ballyhooed bouts into epics that surpassed expectations, such as when he retained his title in 1975 by beating Frazier in a fight that is not done justice by the moniker the Thrilla in Manila. It was a performance that led Frazier—who absorbed Ali's vitriol and his powerful blows—with little to say afterward except, "Lawdy, Lawdy, he's a great champion."
HARRY FLOURNOY, 72
Looking back on the 1966 NCAA title game, Flournoy, a senior co-captain of all-black Texas Western, said, "Kentucky was playing for a commemorative wristwatch.... We were out to prove that it didn't matter what color a person's skin was." A knee injury limited Flournoy to just six minutes in the epic 72--65 upset.
RASHAAN SALAAM, 42
Though he played eight-man football at La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day, Salaam became the fourth Division I player to rush for 2,000 yards, during his Heisman-winning 1994 campaign at Colorado. After gaining 1,074 yards as a rookie with the Bears, he played only 17 more NFL games.
JOE GARAGIOLA, 90
Growing up in St. Louis with Yogi Berra, Garagiola was considered the better catching prospect. A .257 hitter, he proved no match for Berra on the field, but he was nearly as quotable: To pronounce his name, he suggested pretending to strangle yourself. He spent three decades calling MLB games on national TV.
JOSE FERNANDEZ, 24
His accomplishments as an ace in Miami (career ERA: 2.58) paled next to the steps he took to get there. After three tries at defecting from Cuba—and two months spent in prison—Fernandez made it to the U.S. on his fourth, at age 15. (He jumped overboard to rescue his mother in rough waters.) Five years later the righty who played with obvious joy for his adopted hometown team was named the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year. He recovered from Tommy John surgery to win 16 games in '16, before being killed in a boating accident in September.
PAT SUMMITT, 64
In the spring of 1974, forward Trish Head left Tennessee-Martin as the all-time leading scorer in its men's and women's basketball programs. A few weeks later, at 21, she was named women's coach at Tennessee. When administrators called her Pat, she was loath to correct them.
It was probably the last time in her remarkable life that Patricia Head (she married R.B. Summitt in 1980) was too timid to act. In an era when women's sports were, at best, ignored, Summitt pressed forward, building the Lady Vols into a juggernaut that elevated not only the sport but also all of women's athletics. By her retirement in 2012, a year after being diagnosed with early-onset dementia, she had won a Division I--record 1,098 games and eight national titles. Said UConn coach Geno Auriemma, "Whoever writes the history of women's basketball, her name and influence will be all over that book from the mid-'70s until they don't play basketball anymore."
ANDY BATHGATE, 83
In his 17-year Hall of Fame career, Bathgate won the 1959 Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and made eight All-Star games—all while playing on bad teams in New York, where he was seldom recognized. Not that it bothered the humble right wing. "People have so many other things to do," he said.
LAWRENCE PHILLIPS, 40
A gifted running back—he rushed for 1,722 yards in 1994, when Nebraska won the national championship—Phillips was unable to stay out of trouble with the law during college and in the NFL, and after two years in the CFL was out of football by 28. He died while serving a 31-year prison sentence.
BILL FOSTER, 86
The first coach to guide four schools to 20-win seasons, Foster had his greatest success at Duke, which he revived after a decade in the doldrums. His 1977--78 squad, led by Jim Spanarkel and Mike Gminski, lost to Kentucky in the final. Foster left for South Carolina in '80 and was replaced by Mike Krzyzewski.
MARIA TERESA DE FILIPPIS, 89
The daughter of an Italian count, de Filipis got into auto racing at 22 to prove to her older brothers that she could drive fast, then came in second in her first race. At 31, she became the first woman to drive in Formula 1, starting three major races and finishing one. Only one other woman has run an F1 race.
BUDDY RYAN, 85
As the Bears' defensive coordinator in 1985, Ryan set the tone for the brash Super Bowl Shuffling champs. "[He] told us if one of us got in a fight, don't hold our guy back. Hold their guy back, so our guy could hit him," said Doug Plank, a Chicago safety who became a key figure in Ryan's 46 defense. (Plank wore number 46.) Ryan went on to coach the Eagles and the Cardinals, going 55-55-1. His twin sons, Rex and Rob, would also win Super Bowls as assistant coaches.
KENNY SAILORS, 95
There is some debate over who invented the jump shot, but none over who was first to perfect it. Sailors hoisted the one-hander as a 5'7" 13-year-old playing against his 6'5" older brother. ("You should keep working on that," Bud told him.) Sailors led Wyoming to the 1943 national championship.
LEONID ZHABOTINSKY, 77
In 1965, the Soviet weightlifter signed an autograph for an Austrian teen. "Wish you Arnie to become a strong and world-famous person," read the inscription to Arnold Schwarzenegger. At 365 pounds, Zhabotinsky won Olympic super heavyweight gold in 1964 and '68 and set 19 world records.
DENNIS GREEN, 67
Upon being named the second African-American coach in NFL history, Green said, "[Players] don't want a black man or a white man to lead them. They want someone who knows what he's doing." He did, going 113--94 in 13 seasons. His Vikings made the playoffs eight times in 10 years, including 1998, when they went 15--1.
RALPH BRANCA, 90
On Opening Day 1947, Branca stood beside Jackie Robinson when many Brooklyn Dodgers teammates refused. Such character helped the righthander—a three-time All-Star—live with the infamy of surrendering the Shot Heard 'Round the World in '51, always handling questions with ease and grace.
JOHAN CRUYFF, 68
The Dutch teams of the 1970s perfected a brand of fluid, free-flowing soccer known as Total Football. It was epitomized by Cruyff, ostensibly a center forward but in reality a threat from anywhere on the pitch. At a time when first-team players generally wore numbers 1 through 11 based on their position, Cruyff often sported 14 to signify that he was not beholden to any one area. Though he never led his country to a World Cup (the Netherlands lost the '74 final to West Germany), Cruyff won eight Dutch league titles with Ajax and added a La Liga championship with Barcelona. He was also an influential manager in Europe for 12 seasons. "Quality without results is pointless," Cruyff said. "Results without quality is boring."
DWAYNE WASHINGTON, 52
A Brooklyn-bred ankle-breaker extraordinaire, he was known as Pearl—as in Earl (the Pearl) Monroe—a decade before he enrolled at Syracuse, in 1983. "Dwayne didn't come here looking to make a name [for] himself," a teammate said. "He already had that." The Orangemen won their first eight Big East games with the 6'2" Pearl at the point, including a victory over Boston College in which he hit a game-winning 45-foot buzzer beater.
But in Washington's three All--Big East seasons, Syracuse never won more than two games in the NCAA tournament. The Nets drafted him with the 13th pick in 1986, but his NBA career lasted just three years, the structure of the league being a less-than-ideal match for Pearl's skill set. As Washington said to his namesake just before he headed to Syracuse, "Sometimes I can't understand some of the moves I make, Earl. I'll have to ask my brother, 'Can you tell me what I did out there on this play or that?'"
KIMBO SLICE, 42
A former strip club bouncer, Kevin (Kimbo) Ferguson picked up a new last name by cutting the eye of an opponent in his first Internet street-fighting video. He became an underground legend but then had limited success when he made the move to more formalized mixed martial arts competitions.
BILL WADE, 85
Drafted No. 1 by the Rams out of Vanderbilt in 1952, the quarterback was known for cerebral play rather than flash. (The black hightops Wade wore reinforced that stodgy image.) In a 14--10 win over the Giants in the 1963 NFL championship game, he scored both the Bears' touchdowns on sneaks.
DICK MCAULIFFE, 76
The longtime Tiger held the bat over his head so that, in the words of Bill James, he "looked as if he were dodging the sword of Damocles in mid-descent." Whatever works. In an era when middle infielders rarely hit for power, McAuliffe belted 197 homers, including 16 in 1968 when Detroit won the World Series.
RICK MACLEISH, 66
On a Philadelphia team known as the Broad Street Bullies, the center stood out as a fluid skater with a deadly wrist shot, becoming the first Flyer to score 50 goals, in 1972--73. The next season he netted the only goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Bruins, giving Philly its first NHL title.
CRAIG SAGER, 65
He was literally one of the most colorful characters in NBA history, but the description also applied to Sager figuratively. His path to sideline stardom included stints as a college mascot (Northwestern's Willie the Wildcat), bouncer, weatherman and sailing instructor. But the high seas' loss was sports fans' gain. Over 26 years with TNT he asked acute questions courtside, handling good-natured potshots over his gaudy attire and the mostly good-natured ire of his grumpier subjects (see: Gregg Popovich). Sager remained active and animated even as his battle with leukemia required three bone marrow transplants. Said Charles Barkley, "There's no person I've ever met in my life who wanted to live more."
BILL JOHNSON, 55
A month before the 1984 Olympics, the ultracocky Johnson, then 23, became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup downhill race. His competitors were not impressed. Franz Klammer wrote off the victory to luck and called Johnson a "nose-picker." Dauntless, Johnson arrived in Sarajevo convinced he was a sure shot. "It's not a question of whether I win the gold," he told the BBC, "but what I do with it after I win it."
Johnson backed up his bold talk, flying down the course at Bjelašnica to become the first American to win an Alpine skiing gold. "Now the nose-pickers are chasing me," Johnson said. "They can kiss my ass." He asserted his win would be worth millions, but injuries and his abrasive personality hampered his post-Olympic career. He retired in 1990 but attempted a comeback at 40, before the 2002 Olympics. He suffered severe head injuries in a crash and spent much of his remaining 15 years in assisted-living facilities.
WILL SMITH, 34
Drafted in the first round by the Saints in 2004, the Ohio State defensive end immediately took to New Orleans, becoming a fan favorite and forging a bond with his fellow residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Smith played nine years in the Big Easy and led the '09 Super Bowl winners with 13 sacks.
JOHN SAUNDERS, 61
Before embarking on a career as a journalist, Saunders was a college hockey player. At ESPN, his employer for 30 years, he covered almost every sport, amassing a vast body of knowledge that, combined with his acuity, made him the ideal host for the esteemed roundtable show, The Sports Reporters.
TED MARCHIBRODA, 84
He made his first contribution to football in Baltimore by beating out Johnny Unitas for a roster spot on the 1955 Steelers. That freed Johnny U to sign with the Colts, whom Marchibroda later coached to three AFC East titles. As a Bills assistant he designed the K-Gun, one of the NFL's first no-huddle attacks.
MONTE IRVIN, 96
In 1952, as the former Negro leagues star was beginning his third full season with the Giants, he rued that he couldn't have joined New York a decade earlier: "I was 22 then and twice the ballplayer I am now." That's a scary thought. In '51, Irvin led the National League with 121 RBIs. Born in Haleburg, Ala., he grew up in New Jersey, where he bulked up by helping his dad deliver milk from a horse-drawn wagon. He mentored another Giants outfielder born in Alabama, Willie Mays, who, upon Irvin's death, said, "I lost ... someone who was like a second father to me."
ARNOLD PALMER, 87
When he was six, Palmer would stand by the 6th tee at the nine-hole Latrobe (Pa.) Country Club, where his father was greenkeeper and pro, while wearing a toy pistol on his hip. Over time, Palmer would immerse himself in golf while holding on to that cowboy mentality. In an often staid sport, Palmer was a big-hitting, seat-of-his-slacks scrambler. "Why hit a conservative shot?" he said. "When you miss it, you are in just as much trouble as when you miss a bold one." (He remained conservative in other areas: He didn't like his wife dyeing her hair, and he said, "If there's a dime on the street, I pick it up.")
As Palmer won four of the first nine televised Masters, the PGA Tour began attracting beer drinkers and housewives. So vast was Arnie's Army that Palmer had his own line of bug repellent. The fact that the last of his seven major titles came at age 34 did nothing to diminish his stature. Said Jordan Spieth, "We owe everything we have in the game of golf ... to Arnold Palmer."
NATE THURMOND, 74
Akron hoopster returns to Ohio to lead the Cavaliers on a thrilling playoff journey. Sound familiar? Well, with apologies to LeBron, someone beat him to it. After 11 years with the Warriors and a brief stint with the Bulls, Thurmond was traded to Cleveland in 1975 and was a key contributor to the Miracle at Richfield, the Cavs' run to the '76 Eastern Conference finals. Nate the Great was an elite rebounder and shot blocker; in '74, he had the first quadruple double in NBA history. It wasn't that the Hall of Famer couldn't score—he averaged 15.0 points to go with his 15.0 rebounds. It was that he preferred grinding at the other end of the floor. "Being flashy," Thurmond said, "takes unnecessary effort."
DENNIS BYRD, 50
A second-round pick out of Tulsa in 1989 by the Jets, the versatile defensive lineman had 27 sacks in his first three seasons before his career came to a tragic end in the fourth. Byrd was paralyzed after colliding with a teammate but recovered to walk onto the field for New York's opener in '93. He died in a car accident.
MILT PAPPAS, 76
Born Miltiades Stergios Papastergios, he made his Greek heritage clear in 1972 when umpire Bruce Froemming called a ball on a 3-and-2 pitch that would have given Pappas a perfect game. The righty let loose in his mother tongue. Pappas was brash, but he harnessed his aggressiveness, winning 209 games in 17 seasons.
GORDIE HOWE, 88
"I had 50 stitches in my face one year," Howe said in 1964. "That was a bad year. I only got 10 stitches last year. That was a good year." By more traditional measures, every year was a good one for Mr. Hockey. An All-Star in 23 of his 26 NHL seasons, he retired as the leader in games, goals and assists.
Discovered at 16 when his ambidexterity caught the eye of Red Wings coach Jack Adams at a tryout camp—"Who's the big kid?" Adams asked—Howe made his debut with Detroit in 1946. He had just 22 points but racked up 52 penalty minutes. Howe's point totals gradually increased, and with the goals came success: The Wings won four Stanley Cups in the first half of the 1950s. Of course, the penalty minutes never went away, giving birth to the Gordie Howe hat trick: a goal, an assist and a fight. "[Maurice] Richard—you can't miss his skill, it's so dramatic," Detroit coach Tommy Ivan said. "Gordie—you have to know your hockey, or you won't appreciate him."
JOHNNY BACH, 91
An assistant on the Bulls' first three NBA title teams, Bach was the architect of their Doberman defense. He punctuated his talks with war imagery delivered in his best drill sergeant's voice, fitting for a man who served in Okinawa during World War II before coaching 56 years in college and the pros.
LENNIE POND, 75
While the Ettrick, Va., native won just one top-level NASCAR race, he repeatedly showed that given good equipment, he could have been one of the greats. In 1973, Pond was Rookie of the Year. In '76 he ran every race for the only time in his 17-year career and finished fifth in the standings—behind four Hall of Famers.
JIM MCMILLIAN, 68
When Elgin Baylor retired nine games into the 1971--72 season, McMillian stepped in at small forward. He averaged 18.8 points and Los Angeles won its first 33 games en route to the title. The book-loving Columbia grad wasn't awed by his own accomplishments: "I'm just the fat, little dude wearing number 5."
TONY PHILLIPS, 56
Phillips played every position except pitcher and catcher, had a great eye (a career .374 on-base percentage) and not much of a filter. Many teammates felt that bluntness in the form of profanity-laced pep talks. Phillips retired in 1999 after 18 seasons, then attempted to make a comeback in 2013, at 53.
BUD COLLINS, 86
To hear Bud Collins was to appreciate a tennis analyst who was passionate about the sport. To see Bud Collins was to wonder if he had lost a bet. A journalist who also wrote on politics and travel, Collins was most at home near the courts, where his garish pants stood out from the whitewashed crowds he could enlighten and amuse. Who else could have asked Romanian star Ilie Nastase, "What's a nice Communist boy like you doing taking all this prize money?"
DAVE MIRRA, 41
A BMX pioneer, Mirra won 24 X Games medals, including at least one for 11 consecutive years. In 2005 he won the ESPY for Best Male Action Sports Athlete. But with the daring tricks came many wrecks. Mirra died of suicide in February; three months later it was discovered he had suffered from CTE.
SAMMY LEE, 96
The first Asian-American to win an Olympic medal, Lee—the son of Korean immigrants—got his start in a pool that only allowed nonwhites to swim on Wednesdays. (The pool was then drained and refilled.) He struck gold in platform diving in 1948 and repeated in '52, then went on to coach, among others, Greg Louganis.
CLYDE LOVELLETTE, 86
As the 6'9", 234-pound center (aka the Ambling Alp, aka the Great White Whale) put it, "I took my lumps and gave them." The MVP of the 1952 Final Four, when he led Kansas to victory, Lovellette became the first player to win an NCAA title, an Olympic gold medal and an NBA championship, in '54, with the Minneapolis Lakers.
CARLOS ALBERTO, 72
An elite defender known for his tackling, Alberto was the unlikely scorer of the greatest goal in World Cup history, a thundering strike in Brazil's 4--1 win over Italy in the 1970 final. Alberto, who played alongside Pelé in Brazil and with the New York Cosmos, was named to the World Team of the 20th Century in '98.
HOWARD BINGHAM, 77
The legendary photographer spent more than 50 years shooting his best friend, Muhammad Ali.
JOHN BROPHY, 83
An NHL coach for 2½ seasons, he had the second-most career wins (1,027) at all pro levels.
BRYAN CLAUSON, 27
The best dirt-track racer in the country won four USAC titles and ran three Indianapolis 500s.
BOB GAIN, 87
A five-time Pro Bowl pick, the defensive lineman won three NFL championships with the Browns.
BARNEY HALL, 83
The voice of NASCAR, he called races on the radio with a smooth, easy delivery for 54 years.
WINSTON HILL, 74
The burly tackle protected Joe Namath's blind side while making 174 straight starts for the Jets.
LOU MICHAELS, 80
The college football Hall of Famer starred as a lineman at Kentucky and as a kicker in the NFL.
ANDREW SMITH, 25
The 6'11" center was an Academic All-America at Butler and appeared in two Final Fours.
ED SNIDER, 83
One of the NHL's most passionate owners, he cofounded the Flyers and led the team for 49 years.
CARL IWASAKI, 93
The versatile photographer contributed to TIME and LIFE and shot more than 300 assignments for SI.
JOE JARES, 78
In his 15-year career Jares covered tennis and college hoops, including UCLA in its heyday.