Rest in peace
September 23, 2020

Gale Sayers, the Chicago Bears' legendary running back, died Wednesday, The Associated Press reports. He was 77. Sayers had been living with dementia, which his wife previously suggested was partially a result of his football career.

On the gridiron, Sayers was considered one the best running backs the NFL has ever seen, particularly when he got out into the open-field. Despite playing just seven seasons in the league because of knee injuries, Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 at just 34 years old. He made the All-Pro team five times, led the league in rushing twice, and averaged five yards-per-carry for his career.

Off the field, Sayers was known for being a great teammate and the friendship he developed with his Bears backfield mate, Brian Piccolo. Sayers, who was Black, and Piccolo, who was white, became roommates after the Bears dropped their policy of segregating players by race for hotel room assignments, and the two forged a bond that was strengthened after Piccolo was diagnosed with cancer. Piccolo died at age 26 in 1970, and their friendship was depicted in the 1971 film, Brian's Song. Read more at The Associated Press and ESPN. Tim O'Donnell

September 19, 2020

The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday night at 87, was remembered fondly by her eight surviving colleagues on the bench, all of whom released statements on her passing.

Any ideological divide between Ginsburg and the other justices was absent from their recollections, most of which consisted of praise for her intellectual brilliance and positive memories of working alongside her, with multiple justices noting how Ginsburg welcomed them graciously when they took their place on the court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor called Ginsburg a personal "hero" and said she assisted her throughout her career, "long before I came to the Supreme Court."

Former Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired from the court in 2018, also shared his thoughts, having served alongside Ginsburg for 25 years. "By her learning she taught devotion to the law," he said. "By her dignity she taught respect for others and her love for America. By her reverence for the Constitution, she taught us to preserve it to secure our freedom." Tim O'Donnell

September 19, 2020

There has been no shortage of current and former American politicians on both sides of the aisle expressing their admiration for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, including the last two Democratic presidents.

In a statement, former President Barack Obama called Ginsburg a "warrior for gender equality" who "helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn't about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn't only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us." Obama also weighed in on the possibility of the Republican-led Senate fast-tracking the confirmation of Ginsburg's replacement before the election, suggesting that Ginsburg herself would want her legacy to be honored by the Senate sticking to the precedent it set in 2016 when the GOP blocked Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland because it was an election year. (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said 2020 is different because the president and Senate majority are of the same party.)

Former President Bill Clinton, who nominated Ginsburg to the high court in 1993, also shared his thoughts on her life and legacy, describing her "as one of the most extraordinary justices" ever to serve on the bench. Tim O'Donnell

September 18, 2020

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have been the most prominent member of the liberal wing of the court, but she had admirers of all political persuasions.

Ginsburg died on Friday at age 87 after fighting pancreatic cancer, the court announced. As soon as the news was made public, tributes began rolling in from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who would oversee the nomination process for any judge who may be tapped to fill Ginsburg's seat, praised Ginsburg as a "trailblazer." "While I had many differences with her on legal philosophy, I appreciate her service to our nation," he wrote on Twitter.

Former President George W. Bush hailed Ginsburg for her "remarkable" pursuit of justice.

But perhaps no one will miss Ginsburg more than her legions of loyal feminist fans, who lovingly dubbed her "Notorious R.B.G." in recent years. Ginsburg, the second-ever female justice, was well known for championing gender equality, abortion rights, affirmative action, and other progressive causes. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) paid tribute to Ginsburg's legacy among women in a Twitter thread noting the "millions of young women who saw her as a role model."

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that sentiment. Summer Meza

September 10, 2020

Ronald "Khalis" Bell, a co-founder of Kool & the Gang, died Wednesday at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, his publicist said. He was 68 and the cause of death was not released. Bell formed the group with his brother, Robert "Kool" Bell, in the 1960s, and the ensemble scored a string of hits in the 1970s and '80s, including "Celebration," "Jungle Boogie," "Cherish," "Ladies' Night," and "Summer Madness," all written or co-written by Bell. He also played saxophone, sang, and produced the band.

The Bell brothers started playing music on paint cans in Youngstown, Ohio, and formed their first group, the Jazziacs, in Jersey City, New Jersey, with childhood friends. That group became Kook & the Flames, the Jazz Birds, and finally Kool & the Gang. Between 1970 and 2013, the group put out 23 studio albums, moving from jazz roots to funk and soul in the '70s and, with the addition of vocalist James "J.T." Taylor in 1979, chart-topping pop in the 1980s. Kool & The Gang won its first of two Grammy in 1978, a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.

Bell described his inspiration for the group's most enduring hit, 1980's "Celebration," to Rolling Stone in 2015. "I was reading Scripture where the creator's gonna create and made an announcement that he's gonna create this human thing to angels, and the angels were celebrating him for doing so, and that's also where the idea came from," he said. "Three Dog Night had songs about 'Celebrate' but there was never a song about a cel-e-bra-tion. Everyone around the world, come on, there's a celebration every second of our lives. Somewhere, someone is always celebrating something."

Bell, who used the name Khalis Bayyan later in life, is survived by his wife and 10 children. Peter Weber

September 2, 2020

Tom Seaver, the legendary Mets player and Hall of Fame pitcher, died on Monday of complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced Wednesday. He was 75.

Hank Aaron once called Seaver "the toughest pitcher I ever had to face," and he earned the nickname "Tom Terrific" after leading the Mets to a World Series victory in 1969, the same season he won 25 games and earned the first of three Cy Young Awards.

In a statement, the Mets said he was "simply the greatest Mets player of all time, and among the best to ever play the game, which culminated with his near unanimous induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992." Seaver played with the Mets for 11 of his 20 seasons in the majors, and finished his career with a record of 311-205, a 2.86 ERA, and 3,640 strikeouts. In 1988, the Mets retired his number, 41. Catherine Garcia

August 29, 2020

Clifford Robinson, an 18-year NBA veteran, has died, the University of Connecticut men's basketball program confirmed Saturday. He was 53. The cause of death was not immediately known, but Robinson had dealt with health issues in recent years, suffering a stroke in 2017 and having a tumor removed from his jaw in 2018.

Robinson starred at UConn and helped bring them to prominence in the days before they became a basketball powerhouse. The Huskies won the National Invitation Tournament in 1988 with Robinson. UConn retired Robinson's jersey in 2007. "He was our first great player," former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun said, adding that Robinson "was a good man, had a great career, and was instrumental in a lot of the great things that happened at UConn."

Picked in the second round of the 1989 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, Robinson enjoyed a long and fruitful career in the NBA. He spent eight seasons in Portland, and suited up for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, and the then-New Jersey Nets. His brightest years, though, came with the Blazers — in 1993 he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award and followed that up with an All-Star appearance in 1994. Tim O'Donnell

August 24, 2020

Justin Townes Earle, the critically acclaimed Americana singer-songwriter, has died, his family announced late Sunday on Earle's social media pages. A representative for Earle's label, New West Records, confirmed the news to Rolling Stone. No cause of death was disclosed. "It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father, and friend Justin," the family said in its statement. "So many of you have relied on his music and lyrics over the years and we hope that his music will continue to guide you on your journeys."

Earle, the son of singer-songwriter Steve Earle and Carol Ann Hunter, was born and raised in Nashville. He made his recording debut with the 2007 EP Yuma, and his 2010 single Harlem River Blues was named Song of the Year at the 2011 Americana Music Awards. He had been on tour supporting his latest album, 2019's The Saint of Lost Causes, until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Earle and his father were estranged when he was young, but they reconciled in later years years. His middle name is an homage to Townes Van Zandt, and Townes would have been his first name if his father had gotten his way, he told Rolling Stone in 2019. "My mother hated Townes Van Zandt. My first name was supposed to be Townes, but my mother would not have it. ... She hated him because of the trouble that Dad and him got into, but she still played his music." Peter Weber

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