Five Famous Athletes Who Died from Cocaine Use

Cocaine isn't usually the first drug that comes to mind when thinking about performance-enhancing drugs used by athletes. Cocaine, however, can be used as a performance-enhancing drug and many athletes have used it as such. (See my article, "Cocaine As A Performance Enhancing Drug Among Athletes") Cocaine, although easily accessible on the streets, can have serious consequences for athletes. (See my article, "Three Risks Of Cocaine Use Among Athletes") For some athletes, their cocaine use proved to be fatal.

Leonard Bias

Perhaps one of the most shocking deaths in the world of professional sports was that of professional wrestler, Leonard Bias. According to autopsy reports, Bias had died from cocaine intoxication, which significantly disrupted the normal electical current to the heart and triggered seizures and cardiac arrest, both of which subsequently led to his death. According to the Maryland medical examiner, Bias had been in excellent physical condition and had no health issues or congenital defects. Bias had died at only 22-years-old from taking too much cocaine.

Darrel Porter

Darrel Porter, a incredibly talented baseball player, died from his cocaine addiction. Porter's addiction had been brought to the public eye before, but Porter assured his fans, his teammates, his family and his friends that he had quit using cocaine. His death came as a shock to those who believed he had stopped using cocaine. Porter died from cocaine intoxication. Porter had been high on cocaine, in a state of excited delirium and drove his car into a tree stump, got out of the damaged vehicle, dipped his leg in the Missouri River and returned to his car where he died from the heat.

Don Rogers

Just days after the death of Leonard Bias, Don Rogers, safety for the Cleveland Browns died after ingesting a lethal dose of cocaine. Just a few hours after his bachelor party and the day before his wedding, Rogers went into a bedroom of his late mother's house and ingested a lethal amount of cocaine. Rogers fell into a coma and died later that afternoon. A coroner later reported that Rogers had ingested enough cocaine to kill an elephant, leaving many to wonder if Rogers' death had been intentional.

David Waymer

Professional football player David Waymer died as the result of an irregular heartbeat caused by cocaine intoxication. At only 34-years-old, Waymer's heart was believed to have been weakened by frequent cocaine use.

Reggie Lewis

Professional basketball player Reggie Lewis was known to have used cocaine and reportedly used cocaine five days prior to collapsing during a playoff gaine against the Charlotte Hornets. Less than six months later, Lewis died after collapsing during a practice. Lewis was never confirmed to have used cocaine prior to his death, but fans don't doubt that cocaine contributed to the sports star's death.

*Samantha Van Vleet is a former high school athlete. She is a biology major and has a special interest in the areas of health and nutrition as they relate to sports and athletics.

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Updated Tuesday, Mar 6, 2012