Libations for the Top Five Celebrities Gone Too Soon

Today marks the end of my Top Five Week. When I asked my best friend what should I end this week, he responded via text, “#5 celebrities gone too soon.” Surprised with his seemingly odd answer, I started to think about the different celebrities that have passed away at a “too soon” age, and found that many celebrities came to mind quickly.

While the post may seem morbid, I see hope in remembering their lives. I see a challenge to each of us to live each day zestfully and purposefully because death is unpredictable.

Honorable mentions:

Selena, 23

  • Affectionately known as “The Queen of Tejano Music” and the Mexican equivalent of Madonna, Selena was wildly successful during her short life, selling over 21 million albums. I readily admit that I did not know about her until the bio-pic movie starring Jennifer Lopez, but have met many people who loved her and her music. Tragically, she was shot and murdered by the president of her fan club. Ironic.

The 27 club, which notably includes Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Amy Winehouse

  • All of the above names died when they were 27 years old. A separate blog post could be written about this club and its members. Each leaving the world at the relative height of their career; each missing the opportunity to witness their legendary impact on music and the world.

5.Brandon Lee, 28 

  • I have no clue why material arts films are so widely popular with Black males, but I love them and most of my friends do too. As a child when I found out that Brandon Lee was the son of the legendary master Bruce Lee, I became an immediate fan. I remember hearing the news that he died accidentally while shooting a then-new movie, The Crow. I thought movie sets were safe, but accidents happen, and unfortunately this one was fatal.

4. Len Bias, 22

  • “Not everyone gets a second chance” was the message that my middle science teacher imparted to my class, using Len Bias’ story as the foundation. Len Bias was considered by many to be a taller, stronger/more athletic, more accurate shooter than Michael Jordan. Yep, a better Jordan. And he was selected by Boston Celtics, whose fan base were excited about teaming this up and coming superstar with Larry Legend, who was entering the tail end of his career. He was destined to be scary good, but he tried drugs once at a party while celebrating the realization of his childhood dream to play in the NBA. Unfortunately, “not everyone gets a second chance.”

3. Christopher Wallace (Notorious B.I.G.), 24 and Tupac Shakur, 25

  • Two of the biggest rap artists, both killed over a media-hyped personal feud that somehow engulfed the East and West coast. Both are often placed at the top of the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) discussions because their skill and charisma were rivaled by none. If they were still alive…who knows how different rap and hip hop would be. They were the titans and overseers of a relatively new genre that, at the time, recently became mainstream.

2. Heath Ledger, 28

  • His overwhelming amazing portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight was his breakthrough performance that he never got a chance to witness. Every single time he made an appearance on the screen, I, like many others, could not keep my eyes and attention off of him. He made that movie with his now iconic work!

1. Aaliyah, 22

  • Her voice, her smile, her graceful body movement captured America’s attention at a young age and had us transfixed for many years. I learned of her death the night of my first college party. After the party, I was talking with a sophomore who informed me that she passed away, and I thought he was playing a cruel joke. Sadly, he was correct. That year I remember dancing to her song “Rock the Boat” at almost every party. Even in her death, her music positively affected others.

A tribute to all that we have lost too early:


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