As we say goodbye to 2016 and enter 2017, we’ve felt compelled to pay tribute to the gems we’ve lost during this cruel year. 2016 wasn’t very good to us, considering tons of entertainers and other notable public figures we’ve loved and respected that have gone home to Glory. All of these folks have inspired us in some way, shape, or form. Every single person who’s gained their wings in 2016 will be forever and truly missed.
SideNote: This list is incomplete, but rest-assured we respect and honor EVERYONE who’s left us during this tragic year.
Muhammad Ali wasn’t just the world’s greatest boxer.
He was a humanitarian.
A Civil Rights activist.
He was a hero to many.
After over 30 years battling Parkinson’s Disease, our silver-tongued boxing hero, Cassius Clay AKA Muhammad Ali, has died at the age of 74. A family spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that Ali spent his last few days in an undisclosed hospital, where he reportedly had respiratory complications.
René Angélil, CM, OQ was a Canadian musical producer, talent manager, singer, and also the manager and husband of singer Celine Dion. Angelil died after a long battle with Cancer.
David Bowie was a prominent figure in the world of Pop and Rock n Roll for over five decades. My favorite joint by him is “Let’s Dance”! On 10 January 2016, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of the album ‘Blackstar’, Bowie died from liver cancer in his New York City apartment. He had been diagnosed 18 months earlier but had not made the news of his illness public.
Former NFL player, Keion Carpenter died Thursday morning in a Florida hospital. The former Buffalo Bills/Atlanta Falcons player was only 39-years-old.
According to Yahoo Sports, Carpenter was vacationing in Florida with family when he took a freak fall while playing with his son.
After retiring from the NFL, Carpenter founded ‘The Carpenter House’ in Baltimore; according to the foundation’s website, among its goals were “to support the development of healthy homes and environments for low-income children to thrive and reach their highest potential for academic success.
Youree Dell Harris (Miss Cleo)
The memorable “psychic” who amused us with her commercials, urging us to “call her now”, battled with colon cancer that spread to her liver and lungs. She died in Palm Beach, Florida at the age of 53.
Natalie Cole died technically in 2015, (December 31st to be exact). The news of her unfortunate passing surfaced on New Year’s Day, 2016. This legendary songbird was a Multiple Grammy-winning recording artist who, just like her famous Jazz-singing dad Nat King Cole, won the hearts of many. Natalie Cole reportedly died from congestive heart failure, although we’re told the underlying medical issues were complications from a kidney transplant and Hepatitis C.
Carrie Fisher was the breakout star in the Original Star Wars as the sexy, yet strong character, “Princess Leia”. Fisher had a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles and spent her last few days hospitalized in Los Angeles. She was 60-years-old.
Tommy Ford was the lovable and funny character, “Tommy”, on the hit television show, ‘Martin’. Ford was put on life support after an aneurysm ruptured in his abdomen. His family decided to end the life support by the next afternoon. Ford was 52-years-old.
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Before the Kim Kardashians and the Paris Hiltons, there was Zsa Zsa Gabor!
Gabor was a Hungarian-American actress and socialite, who outside her acting career, was known for her extravagant Hollywood lifestyle, her glamorous personality, and her many marriages. In total, Gabor had nine husbands, including hotel magnate Conrad Hilton.
Gabor died at the age of 99 of cardiac arrest at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on December 18, less than two months before she would have become a centenarian.
Ron Glass was a prolific TV actor who was mostly known for his role as “Ron Harris” in the sitcom, ‘Barney Miller’. Later in his stellar career, he had roles on projects like ‘Firefly’, ‘Family Matters’, ‘The S.H.E.I.L.D’, and more. The actor’s rep confirmed the death to Variety but had no further details regarding the cause or location. Glass was 71-years-old.
Ricky Harris was a comedian, actor, and the “go-to guy” in the hip hop industry who voiced several characters in the skits of Hip Hop albums. Harris also had a recurring role on ‘Everybody Hates Chris‘. It’s reported that Harris died from a heart attack. He was 54-years-old.
We all enjoyed this actress as the loving matriarch, Carol, on ‘The Brady Bunch’. Florence Henderson died at Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles from heart failure, according to her publicist, David Brokaw. She was 82-years-old.
Gwen Ifill was a long time PBS journalist and inspired many African-American women to dive into the world of television journalism. Ifill reportedly died after a long battle with cancer. She was 61-years-old.
The Dap-Kings were a New York based band that captured the essence of funk and soul with each performance. The band’s leading lady, Sharon Jones, amazed audiences with her energy and powerful voice. The singer died of pancreatic cancer at 60-years-old. According to the NY Times, Jones was surrounded by members of her band and other loved ones when she died.
Kashif Saleem was an accomplished singer/songwriter, and producer who reportedly died in his Los Angeles home.
According to those who were close to him, Kashif lived alone and was found unresponsive by a family friend after not hearing from him. The friend found him on a Monday. The Los Angeles County Coroners’s office says he had been dead since Sunday. At this time, there is no specific cause of death. Kashif was 53-years-old.
23-Year-Old Tyriece Watson of Baltimore was known as “Lor Scoota”, a local rap artist who had a promising future outside of Baltimore. He was making waves in his industry as a lyricist who spoke for the youth of Baltimore City. He was well on his way as anther talented artist to put the City of Baltimore on the map.
Unfortunately, we’ll never see where Lor Scoota’s potential could take him. According to WJZ Baltimore, Lor Scoota was driving eastbound on Moravia Road at Harford Road around 7 p.m. Saturday when a suspect stepped into the street and opened fire. He was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.
Lor Scoota was leaving a charity basketball that he participated in, “Touch the People Pray for Peace in These Streets” at Morgan State University before he was killed, according to councilman Nick Mosby.
The legendary Pop/Soul crooner reportedly died peacefully in his home on Christmas Day. He was 53-years-old. The cause of death is undisclosed.
Bill Nunn died from an undisclosed cause in his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The accomplished actor contributed to many great films such as ‘New Jack City’ and ‘He Got Game’, but it’s his iconic role as “Radio Raheem” in Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ that’s captured our hearts. Bill Nunn is one of the most prolific actors of our time.
The singer known for his 1972 hit single “Me and Mrs. Jones” died from pancreatic cancer. Paul was 81-years-old.
Also known by his beard and large glasses, Paul was one of many singers who found success with the writing and producing team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff of Philadelphia International Records. This legendary producing team also released music by the O’Jays.
Malik Taylor, who we all know as Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest, died at the age of 45. According to Rolling Stone, the cause of death was never confirmed. Although, reports say that Taylor suffered from health issues for years, undergoing a kidney transplant in 2008 to deal with a longtime battle with Type 1 diabetes.
Taylor helped garnered success for A Tribe Called Quest, earning them an incredible fan base of Hip-Hop lovers and overall music lovers alike.
The icon, Prince, was reportedly found in an elevator at his Paisley Park home in suburban Minneapolis. It was later reported that the musician overdosed on opioids…a substance used to relieve pain.
This gifted man’s musical prowess amazed us in ways that it didn’t even matter if he could strut and dance in heels better than most women, or rock a hairdo that would put us to shame! His effeminate fashion taste aside, Prince gave us hit after hit after hit. He broke barriers as one of the few artists to successfully cross-over as a multi-genre artist. From sensual ballads to rock, Prince made sure we had soundtracks for any given moment of our lives.
The iconic ‘Singing in the Rain’ actress and mother of the late Carrie Fisher suffered a stroke while making funeral plans for her daughter. Reynolds died the day after her daughter.
According to E News, the family plans to do a joint funeral, burying mother and daughter together at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in L.A.
Atlanta rapper Carlos Walker, who we all know as Shawty Lo, reportedly died in a fiery car crash in South Fulton County, Georgia. The 40-year-old rapper is father of 11 children. Walker simply lost control of his vehicle.
Walker controversial news in 2013 when the Oxygen television network announced plans for a special about his blended family, which includes 11 children with 10 women. After calls for a boycott and online petitions, the special entitled “All My Babies’ Mamas” was scrapped before it even aired.
Kevin Ferguson, better known as Kimbo Slice, was a Bahamian-born American mixed martial artist, boxer, and occasional actor. Slice had been diagnosed with heart failure and needed a transplant days before he died according to released hospital records.
According to hospital reports obtained by Florida newspaper, the fighter was admitted to Northwest Medical Center after experiencing acute abdominal pain, nausea, and shortness of breath.
The reports found Slice had a liver mass and congestive heart failure and was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. As Slice got progressively unwell, doctors advised his family he was in need of a heart transplant.
The staff was in the process of preparing to transfer Slice to a medical center in Cleveland where he would be put on an organ donor list but he died by the following evening.
Slice is survived by his long-time girlfriend and six children.
Alan Thicke, who we’ve all watched on ‘Growing Pains’ as Jason Seaver, suffered a heart attack while playing hockey with his 19-year-old son. According to TMZ, Thicke was transported to Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Alan Thicke was 69-years-old and is survived by three sons, Brenner, Carter, and R&B crooner, Robin, and his wife, Tanya.
Denise Matthews, better known as Vanity, was a singer, dancer, actress and model. Vanity made waves with her group, Vanity 6, with sexually-charged songs like “Nasty Girl”. As an actress, she scored big with roles in the low-budget Motown hit, ‘The Last Dragon’ opposite Taimak, and ‘Action Jackson’ opposite Carl Weathers. In her later years, Vanity turned away from her music and acting career to concentrate on evangelism.
Although the cause of death was never released, according to TMZ, Matthews spent 6 years battling kidney failure as well as a recent battle with an abdominal illness. A few months ago, Matthews allegedly set up a GoFundMe page, and said she’d been diagnosed with sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis — an inflammation of the small intestines.
Vanity was 57-years-old
Maurice White, legendary singer and co-founder of the iconic band, Earth, Wind, & Fire, died at the age of 74. The singer reportedly died after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease, which he was diagnosed with in 1992. Maurice’s condition worsened in 1994, forcing the singer to stop touring with the band. Although Maurice couldn’t tour, he was still involved behind the scenes.
Gene Wilder made us laugh with films like ‘Stir Crazy’ opposite Richard Pryor, ‘The Woman in Red’ opposite Kelly Le Brock, and the classic ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’.
A family spokesperson confirmed in a statement that the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
Rest in heavenly, eternal peace to all