The Celebrities Who Passed Away in 2020

Kobe and Gianna Bryant

Warning: this post deals with the topics of death, rape and suicide. 

In many ways, 2020 was a year of loss. The loss of freedom, social interaction, income, faith in government and the loss of huge swaths of bushland and its already endangered inhabitants, to name a few. 

It was also a year marked by the tragic losses of some prominent and truly remarkable people who, while no longer physically with us, will remain in our collective memories for many years to come.

Here, we honour some of those we have lost in 2020, with deepest respect and condolences to anyone who experienced the loss of a loved one in one of the most difficult years in recent history. 

Kobe Bryant

Kobe and Gianna Bryant, January 26

The 41-year-old NBA legend and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles at the start of the year, leaving the sporting community and scores of fans completely devastated.

The former LA Lakers player, who retired in 2016 after 20 years and five NBA championship rings, left behind a legacy that proves the value of hard work, mentorship, loyalty and business acumen along with the importance of giving back to the community.

Bryant was also an Olympic gold medal winner having won with Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 games.

Nick Cordero, July 5

While Broadway star Nick Cordero might not have been a well-known figure in Australia, the 41-year-old quickly became an inadvertent face of the COVID-19 pandemic after passing away from the illness.

The father-of-one was young, fit and healthy with no pre-existing conditions indicating that he should have been a prime candidate for a full recovery from the virus. Tragically, Cordero became a stark reminder of just how serious COVID is and the fact that anyone can succumb to it. 

Kelly Preston, July 12

The actress, who had been married to John Travolta since 1991, passed away at the age of 57 after a two year battle with breast cancer. The couple had three children together with their son Jett passing away in 2009 at just 16 years of age.

Preston, who starred in many films including Jerry Maguire, chose to keep her fight against the terminal illness a secret, with Travolta sharing the sad news of her passing on his social media on July 13. 

Naya Rivera

Naya Rivera, July 13 

The 33-year-old actress and singer was found dead on July 13 after going missing five days prior. The popular Glee star tragically drowned after a boating trip with her young son, who survives her.

Fans of both Glee and Rivera showed an outpouring of grief at the loss of such a young talent, who was found on the seven-year anniversary of the death of her Glee co-star, Cory Monteith.

Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman, August 28 

43-year-old Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman passed away in August after a long, secret battle with colon cancer. The actor continues to receive praise for his film portrayals, particularly of trailblazing Black men such as Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall.

The entertainment industry has found many ways to honour Boseman posthumously and he is even expected to be nominated for an Oscar for his final performance in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, September 18 

Supreme Court Judge and feminist icon Ruth Bader Gisburg (RBG) passed away in September, aged 87, but the legacy she leaves behind will continue to pave the way for women all over the world for generations to come.

RBG, who died from complications of pancreatic cancer, was the second woman to serve on the US Supreme Court and an enduring legal champion of gender equality. She was the subject of the 2018 On the Basis of Sex and a documentary titeld RBG that same year. 

Helen Reddy, September 29 

Australian-born Reddy, best known for her female empowerment anthem “I Am Woman”, passed away on September 29 at the age of 78. Her feminist spririt will forever live on, as will her soulful hits such as “Delta Dawn” and ″Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady.″ 

Daisy and Melinda Coleman October 4 and December 6

Daisy Coleman came to prominence after sharing her harrowing experience with rape in the 2016 Netflix documentary Daisy & Audrie.

Despite becoming a fierce advocate for rape survivors, Dasiy never fully recovered from the trauma of her attack and took her own life on October 4. A mere two months later, her heartbroken mother Melinda also suicided as she was unable to go on without her beloved daughter. 

Sean Connery

Sean Connery, October 31 

The original James Bond, and Academy Award winner, passed away on Halloween at the age of 90. The Scottish-born actor died in his sleep, leaving behind an iconic legacy of beloved films.

Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli expressed their sadness at his passing in a statement which read: “He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words — ‘The name’s Bond … James Bond.’”

Diego Maradona, November 25

The legendary and enigmatic soccer star, whose life was the subject of a 2019 documentary, passed away in November at the age of 60.

Maradona, who had publicly battled substance abuse issues throughout his life, died of a stroke three weeks after he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain, leaving millions of fans shocked and devastated. 

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, please contact the Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence National Help Line on 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) or head to The Australian Human Rights Commission for a list of state by state resources. 

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