It is with sadness that I mention the death of Neil Fingleton. Many of you will know him from The Game of Thrones. I know him because we went to UNC-Chapel Hill together. At just over 7 and a half feet tall, he stood out on campus as the guy who seemed to be as tall as the street lights lining the quad and was actually taller than Brendan Haywood. While he didn’t exactly have a stellar career on the hard wood, he probably made more of a mark on Hollywood with small roles for giants and other big dudes.
The reason I mention his death is that it reminded me that many of our athletes live short lives. In Neil’s case, it was the gift of height that he was born with but for many others it’s the nature of the sport and the toll it (or “the life”) takes on the body which ultimately shortens the time which they have to enjoy it. Neil was heavily scouted and recruited to play basketball making it to the McDonald’s All-America prospect team.
With his passing, though, I can’t help but reflect on Chiyonofuji, Kitanoumi, and other athletes who often pass before their time…though in Neil’s case it was startlingly young.