At age 75 of a heart attack, Parry O'Brien (left), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the shot put. In 1951, as a USC sophomore, he was struggling to surpass 55 feet but then altered his form in a way that revolutionized the shot: He faced the back of the circle and thus turned his body 180 degrees when making his put instead of just rocking from one leg to the other. (The move was dubbed the O'Brien Glide.) The next year with a throw of 57' 1 1/4", he won gold at the Helsinki Games, a feat he repeated at the 1956 Melbourne Games. He twice graced the cover of SI.
In a car accident at age 73, Pulitzer Prize--winning author David Halberstam. Though he made his name covering wars and politics and, ultimately, as a historian, his first love was sports. The same relentless reporting and sensitive storytelling that made The Best and the Brightest (1972) the definitive account of the origins of the Vietnam war also made his seven sports books culturally significant as well as best sellers. Halberstam wrote with heart and facility about all sports. While probably best known for his baseball books (including Summer of '49 and October 1964), his chronicle of the Portland Trail Blazers' 1979--80 season, The Breaks of the Game, is still considered by many as the best book ever written about the NBA. In December 1991 Halberstam profiled Michael Jordan in SI's Sportsman of the Year issue, and two of his works—including his 2005 study of Bill Belichick, The Education of a Coach—were excerpted in the magazine. He will be missed around here.