Many iconic figures passed away in 2020: Who did they influenced?


Graphic by Jacob Miller

Jacob Miller, Copy Editor

Throughout 2020, we have seen the horrors of the COVID-19 pandemic, police brutality, a divided election, and many other serious events that have captured the world’s attention. Sparking worldwide terror and distress, these issues have made 2020 a year of misery for many. Why do such issues generate worldwide attention? What gives the media the power it has to amplify awareness? The answer? Death. Death grabs our attention and appeals to our feelings and emotions. Just this year, 2.39 million Americans have died from all possible causes. Only 2.17 million people died in 2018 and 2019 combined. These deaths include a vast number of celebrities and well-known figures that have impacted many people throughout their lives.

Not just in the eyes of the basketball community, but in the eyes of the world, Kobe Bryant’s death was a tragedy to say the least. As one of the most notable basketball players of all time, his cold-blooded style of play inspired many young athletes to be focused and intense, calling it the “Mamba Mentality”. Bryant had an illustrious career that secured him five NBA championships and an MVP. He sadly died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna on Jan. 26, 2020. The world fell silent after his death, spreading grief and sadness. Charles Barkley, former NBA player, said Bryant’s death was “like losing a family member”. Lincoln Southeast teacher, Alyssa Allaire, decorated her door in honor of Bryant for the jersey theme. “I am a huge Lakers fan being a SoCal girl, and so when I found out that Kobe passed away so suddenly at such a young age, I was devastated.”

Another iconic celebrity, Chadwick Boseman, known for his role as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was an actor that influenced millions of lives through film. After rising to fame with his role as Jackie Robinson in the movie “42”, Boseman established himself as a prominent actor for the future. His role in “Black Panther” helped create a massive cultural footprint for the Black and African community. After battling colon cancer for four years, Boseman died on Aug. 28, 2020 at the age of 42. Boseman’s death shocked the world, but the influence he had lives on through the revolutionary power of his movie roles.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nothing short of an inspiration for people all over the world. Known by many as the ‘Notorious RBG’, she served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for 27 years, fighting for universal civil rights. Her influence on the prohibition of sex-based wage discrimination and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project changed the lives for many people during her lifetime. Sadly, Ginsburg passed away on Sept. 18, 2020 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. 

Diego Maradona was a footballing icon. He was widely known for being one of the best football (soccer) players in the world. The Argentine won eleven titles throughout his career, including the 1986 World Cup. Maradona was a gifted dribbler and talented playmaker in the game of soccer, even having his own signature skill, “The Maradona Spin”. To the soccer community, the death of the “Pibe de Oro” was tragic and appalling. LSE soccer player, Damien Tran (12), is just one of the many people inspired by his legacy. “During my early childhood, I grew up watching a lot of soccer. This included watching old clips of Maradona and his legendary play style,” said Tran. “It is inspiring to see his influence still present today.”

There are many other celebrities that passed on in 2020. Eddie Van Halen, Naya Rivera, Alex Trebek, and Sean Connery were all icons that made a huge impact on people’s lives. David Prowse, the actor who played Darth Vader in the original trilogy of Star Wars, also passed on this year due to complications from COVID-19. All across the globe, this unrepeatable year has affected people greatly. The world has lost many iconic figures in 2020, all of whom will be remembered for their inspirations and their legacies.