10 Who Died Too Young

From Aaliyah to Tillman to Russert, they had more to offer
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2009 10:58 AM CST
10 Who Died Too Young
Pat Tillman in 2003.   (AP Photo)

In looking back at the '00s, the sad tales of luminaries who died too young stand out. Newsweek asked friends and admirers for their reflections:

  • Randy Pausch, d. 2008: "Despite it all," JJ Abrams writes, the "Last Lecture" professor "was radiant, kind, and good-humored."
  • Tim Russert, d. 2008: "There aren’t many shining examples these days—of anything," Brian Williams writes. "Tim was one."
  • Bernie Mac, d. 2008: The comedian's appeal was universal, McG writes. "A little white kid or a middle-aged black guy: everyone loved Bernie Mac."

  • Aaliyah, d. 2001: Timbaland, who worked with her on One in a Million, invokes the album's title: "No description could have been more fitting."
  • Dale Earnhardt, d. 2001: After the NASCAR legend's death, Darrell Waltrip parked next to "a big wreath with a 3 on it in Dale’s spot. I just about turned around and went home."
  • David Foster Wallace, d. 2008: The "generous spirit" of his work, Malcolm Jones writes, "rekindled the idea that, in the right hands, the art of fiction was still capable of almost anything."
  • Benazir Bhutto, d. 2007: The former PM of Pakistan "never gave up her culture," Madeleine Albright writes.
  • Heath Ledger, d. 2008: "The James Dean of his generation," writes Ramin Setoodeh.
  • Neda Agha Soltan, d. 2009: "All she wanted was to live the kind of life each of us takes for granted," writes Azar Nafisi.
  • Pat Tillman, d. 2004: The NFL star and soldier "died as he lived," John McCain writes, "as a most honorable man."
(Read more decade stories.)

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