Stars who died too soon – Paul Walker, Chadwick Boseman, Aaron Carter, more

Paul Walker

Join as we take a look back at some of the stars we’ve loved and lost too soon, starting with this beloved actor, who died at 40 nine years ago on Nov. 30, 2013…

The oldest of five kids raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Paul Walker got his start in Hollywood with small parts as a child actor. Soon after, he garnered bigger roles in teen-focused films including “Varsity Blues,” “She’s All That” and “The Skulls” before his career really took off thanks to the “Fast and the Furious” franchise. Paul was also a devoted father to daughter Meadow Rain. His life came to an abrupt end in Santa Clarita, California, on Nov. 30, 2013: The actor was co-hosting a charity car show through his non-profit organization, Reach Out Worldwide, to raise money for victims of a Philippines typhoon. Paul climbed into the passenger seat of a Porsche as close pal Roger Rodas got behind the wheel — and within minutes of taking the car out for a spin, they were tragically killed when it burst into flames after crashing just a few blocks away. Paul was 40.

Keep reading for more stars we lost too soon…

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Chadwick Boseman

“Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman passed away at home surrounded by his wife and family on Aug. 28, 2020 at 43, leaving fans shocked and bereft, including many fellow Hollywood stars. It was soon revealed that the Oscar-nominated “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “42” actor had quietly been battling colon cancer since 2016 but had chosen not to publicly reveal his diagnosis.

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Aaron Carter

Aaron Carter — a former child pop star who’s the younger brother of Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter — was found dead in a bathtub at his home in Lancaster, California, on Nov. 5, 2022, sparking an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to determine what happened. Aaron, who was mourned by many of his music peers and other celebrities, was just 34.

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Migos rapper Takeoff (real name: Kirsnik Khari Ball) died in the early morning hours of Nov. 1, 2022, in a shooting outside a bowling alley in Houston. He was just 28. The Georgia-born artist started rapping with members of his family — uncle Quavo and cousin Offset — when he was barely a teenager. They eventually formed the trio Migos and went on to score two Grammy nominations in 2018.

Taylor Hawkins

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins died in a Bogota, Colombia, hotel on March 25, 2022, while touring South America tour with his band. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was 50.

Benjamin Keough

Benjamin Keough — the only son of Lisa Marie Presley and the grandson of Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley — died by suicide in Calabasas, California, on July 12, 2020. He was 27. In May 2022, just a few months before the second anniversary of Ben’s heartbreaking death, Lisa Marie took to social media to tell fans why she hadn’t been sharing much. “I haven’t posted in quite some time because there really isn’t much to say, as I am and will forever be mourning the loss of my son. Navigating through this hideous grief that absolutely destroyed and shattered my heart and my soul into almost nothing has swallowed me whole,” she wrote. In July 2022 on the second anniversary of Ben’s death, Lisa Marie posted a photo of the matching tattoos she and her son shared. “Several years ago, on Mother’s Day, my son and I got these matching tattoos on our feet. It’s a Celtic eternity knot. Symbolizing that we will be connected eternally. We carefully picked it to represent our eternal love and our eternal bond,” she explained.

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Helen McCrory

On April 16, 2021, Helen McCrory’s husband, actor Damian Lewis, revealed shocking news: The “Peaky Blinders” star was dead after a battle with cancer that she’d chosen to keep private. The English actress, who also notably portrayed Narcissa Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” films, was 52. She was mourned by co-stars including Cillian Murphy, Kate Beckinsale and Helen Mirren.

Nick Cordero

On July 5, 2020, Tony Award-nominated actor Nick Cordero died in a Los Angeles hospital after a lengthy battle with COVID-19. He was 41. “God has another angel in heaven now. My darling husband passed away this morning. He was surrounded in love by his family, singing and praying as he gently left this earth,” wife Amanda Kloots — who chronicled Nick’s devastating journey with the virus and its many complications including a leg amputation and multiple infections — wrote on Instagram. “I am in disbelief and hurting everywhere. My heart is broken as I cannot imagine our lives without him. Nick was such a bright light. He was everyone’s friend, loved to listen, help and especially talk. He was an incredible actor and musician. He loved his family and loved being a father and husband. [Our 1-year-old son] Elvis and I will miss him in everything we do, everyday.”

Cory Monteith

Canadian actor Cory Monteith — who would have celebrated his 40th birthday on May 11, 2022 — achieved heartthrob status with his role as Finn on FOX’s hit musical “Glee,” where he also met his girlfriend, co-star Lea Michele. In 2011, the actor said he had been struggling with substance abuse since he was 13, and in April 2013, he announced that he was returning to rehab. At the time, Lea released a statement saying, “I love and support Cory and will stand by him through this.” Sadly, just three months after leaving treatment, the actor was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room on July 13, 2013. The cause of death was an accidental heroin and alcohol overdose. He was 31.

Naya Rivera

Naya Rivera was best known for her portrayal of Santana Lopez on “Glee.” On the afternoon of July 8, 2020, the actress-singer went missing after taking Josey, her then-4-year-old son with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, out on Lake Piru in California’s Los Padres National Forest about an hour north of Hollywood. She had rented a pontoon boat for the two of them to enjoy the water, but three hours later, it was seen adrift with only Josey on board. A search was launched for Naya, who grew up nearby, but the next day authorities tragically declared it a recovery mission. Her body was recovered on July 13. She was 33.

Kelly Preston

On July 12, 2020, Kelly Preston — who came to fame in films including “SpaceCamp,” “Twins,” “Jerry Maguire” and “For Love of the Game” and for her enduring marriage to actor John Travolta — died at 57 after a secret two-year battle with breast cancer, leaving behind a son and a daughter. John, who shared the heartbreaking news via Instagram, praised his wife for her “courageous fight” with her illness.

Heath Ledger

Australian actor Heath Ledger was 28 when he died of an accidental drug overdose in his New York City apartment on Jan. 22, 2008 — just months after splitting from actress Michelle Williams, with whom he shared toddler daughter Matilda. The year after his death, Heath posthumously won an Academy Award for his incredible performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

Mac Miller

Mac Miller, who spoke openly about his drug problems in the past, died from an accidental overdose of alcohol, cocaine and fentanyl at 26 on Sept. 7, 2018. The beloved rapper was found at his home in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley by a male friend, who called the police, and was pronounced dead on the scene.

River Phoenix

Acclaimed actor River Phoenix — who first won over audiences with his performance in “Stand By Me” — died on the sidewalk outside the Viper Room, a West Hollywood nightclub, on Oct. 31, 1993. River was only 23 when he overdosed in the presence of his brother, Joaquin Phoenix, and his girlfriend, Samantha Mathis.

Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant

On Jan. 26, 2020, the world was shocked when news broke revealing retired NBA star Kobe Bryant — who also notably won an Oscar for his animated short film “Dear Basketball” in 2018 — had died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, with his daughter, Gianna, and seven other people. Kobe was 41 and Gianna was 13. Fans of the NBA legend, many in Hollywood, mourned the father of four and his little girl, who were on their way to Kobe’s Mamba Academy for her basketball tournament. Kobe and Gianna are survived by wife and mother Vanessa and daughters and sisters Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

Cameron Boyce

Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce, who had epilepsy, passed away in his sleep at his home in North Hollywood on July 6, 2019, after suffering a seizure. He was just 20. The coroner later confirmed what his family had already suspected: The star of “The Descendants” died from “sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.” 

Amy Winehouse

British singer Amy Winehouse famously led a British soul revival, but — marred by substance abuse problems — she died before she could record a third album. The singer was 27 when she passed away in London on July 23, 2011, from alcohol poisoning.

Luke Perry

Famed “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Riverdale” actor Luke Perry captured the hearts of many back in the ’90s. On March 4, 2019, five days after suffering a massive stroke, he passed away at 52.

Kurt Cobain

Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain helped usher in a new era of alternative rock with hits like “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” He’d struggled with depression and substance abuse throughout his time in the spotlight. When Nirvana was at the peak of their fame, a 27-year-old Kurt took his own life in his home in Seattle, Washington, on April 5, 1994.

Brittany Murphy

Brittany Murphy, who demonstrated great range as an actress with her performances in everything from “Clueless” and “8 Mile” to TV’s “King of the Hill,” was pronounced dead on arrival after suffering from pneumonia and drug-related heart failure in her Los Angeles home on Dec. 20, 2009. Less than six months later, the actress’s widower, Simon Monjack, died of pneumonia-related heart failure in the same home. Brittany was 32 at the time of her passing.

Willie Garson

Willie Garson, whose marvelous portrayal of Stanford Blatch on “Sex and the City” made him an instant fan favorite, died on Sept. 21, 2021, at 57 after a devastating battle with pancreatic cancer, a diagnosis he had not shared publicly. Son Nathen Garson announced the sad news. “I love you so much papa. Rest In Peace and I’m so glad you got to share all your adventures with me and were able to accomplish so much. I’m so proud of you. I will always love you, but I think it’s time for you to go on an adventure of your own,” wrote Nathen alongside a series of photos of his father on Instagram. “You’ll always be with me. Love you more than you will ever know and I’m glad you can be at peace now. You always were the toughest and funniest and smartest person I’ve known. I’m glad you shared your love with me. I’ll never forget it or lose it.” 


Swedish DJ Avicii (real name: Tim Bergling) died on April 20, 2018, at 28 while in Muscat, Oman. The two-time Grammy nominee, who shot into the spotlight with hit dance tracks “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother,” had retired from touring in 2016 amid mental health and alcohol struggles. It was later revealed he died by suicide. “Our beloved Tim was a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions. An overachieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress. When he stopped touring, he wanted to find a balance in life to be able to be happy and to do what he loved most — music,” his family later shared in a statement. “He really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness. He could now not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace. Tim was not made for the business machine he found himself in; he was a sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight. Tim, you will forever be loved and sadly missed. The person you were and your music will keep your memory alive. We love you.”


The Spanish-language music star, who released her first album at 12, was fatally shot by Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her fan club, after Selena attempted to fire her for embezzling funds. The singer was only 23 when she died on March 31, 1995.

Tupac Shakur

The popularity of rapper Tupac Shakur, whose album “All Eyez On Me” is one of the highest selling rap albums of all time, has endured despite his death in a hospital six days after he was shot multiple times by still unidentified assailants in Las Vegas on Sept. 13, 1996. Tupac was only 25 at the time of his death.

The Notorious B.I.G.

Echoing the shooting death of his peer and West Coast hip-hop rival Tupac Shakur, rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (real name: Christopher Wallace) was also fatally shot in his car — not even a year later — on March 9, 1997. Like Tupac, the popularity of his music has also persisted to this day. Biggie was 24 at the time of his passing.


Just over a year after he narrowly escaped death in a plane crash that killed four other passengers — that only he and drummer Travis Barker survived — DJ AM was found dead in his New York apartment on Aug. 28, 2009, having suffered from a drug relapse. DJ AM (real name: Adam Goldstein), who’d made headlines when he dated stars like Nicole Richie and Mandy Moore, was known for his knack for creatively mixing classic pop songs with hip-hop and heavy metal tracks. He was 36.


R&B singer Aaliyah, whose hit “Try Again” made history as the first song to top the Billboard Hot 100 solely based on airplay, died when her plane crashed en route back to the States from a video shoot in the Bahamas on Aug. 25, 2001. An investigation of the crash later indicated that the plane had been carrying too much weight. Aaliyah was only 22.

John Singleton

John Singleton made history as the first African American and youngest person to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for best director. The “Boyz n the Hood,” “Poetic Justice” and “Higher Learning” filmmaker passed away on April 29, 2019, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at 51 following his family’s decision to remove him from life support nearly two weeks after he suffered a stroke.


On April 9, 2021 — one week after he suffered a reported drug overdose that resulted in a heart attack that left him unresponsive and on life support — music star DMX (real name: Earl Simmons) passed away at 50. After his organs began to fail, the rapper’s family made the heartbreaking decision to remove him from life support.

Whitney Houston

Superstar Whitney Houston died at 48 at the Beverly Hills hotel on Feb. 11, 2012, on the eve of the Grammy Awards. The “I Will Always Love You” singer was discovered submerged in water in the bathtub in her room and was pronounced dead at the scene after CPR failed to revive her. While the cause of death was initially unclear, the following month, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office confirmed her death was the result of drowning and the effects of “atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use,” which she had used shortly before her death. Her memorial service was held in her New Jersey homeland with Stevie Wonder and R. Kelly among the performers.

Bobbi Kristina Brown

Bobbi Kristina Brown’s tragic death at 22 eerily paralleled mother Whitney Houston’s passing just three years earlier. The late singer’s only child with R&B star Bobby Brown was placed in a medically induced coma on Jan. 31, 2015, after she was found facedown in a bathtub at her home in the Atlanta area. After being admitted to North Fulton Hospital in Roswell, Georgia, she was moved to Emory University Hospital to receive the top neurological care available in the area, but it later was determined that she should be withdrawn from life support and moved to hospice care. She passed away on July 26, 2015. The coroner determined that there had been marijuana, alcohol, morphine, a cocaine metabolite and medications used for sedation or to treat anxiety in her body and determined the underlying cause of death as “immersion associated with drug intoxication.” Her boyfriend, Nick Gordon, was sued by her estate for allegedly giving Bobbi Kristina a “toxic cocktail” and in 2016 was found liable and ordered by a judge to pay the family $36 million for her wrongful death. In 2020, Nick died from an accidental drug overdose.

Dustin Diamond

Dustin Diamond rose to fame thanks to his breakout role as Samuel “Screech” Powers on “Saved by the Bell” in the early ’90s. The actor died on Feb. 1, 2021, at 44 just a few weeks after he was hospitalized and diagnosed with stage 4 small cell carcinoma, or lung cancer.

Jimi Hendrix

Guitar great Jimi Hendrix died of an overdose of sleeping pills on Sept. 18, 1970. He was 27.

Janis Joplin

It’s difficult not to draw parallels between the lives of Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse, as both had big, soulful voices and strong personalities — and both died at 27. Janis, best known for hits like “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Piece of My Heart,” died on Oct. 4, 1970 — the result of a heroin overdose — just 16 days after the death of peer Jimi Hendrix.

Virgil Abloh

On Nov. 28, 2021, pioneering fashion designer Virgil Abloh — the artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear and founder of the celebrity-beloved brand Off-White — died in Chicago after a two-year battle with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare cancer. He was 41. The news of his passing sparked an outpouring of tributes from many Hollywood stars who wore and loved his work.

Brad Renfro

After a long line of drug and alcohol-related arrests, actor Brad Renfro — widely hailed for his work in his 1994 debut, “The Client” — died of a heroin overdose at 25 in his Los Angeles home on Jan. 15, 2008.

Nipsey Hussle

On March 31, 2019, Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle (real name: Ermias Davidson Asghedom) was shot and killed outside his store, Marathon Clothing, in Los Angeles. The rising star, who was beloved for not only his music but his strong dedication to his community and local philanthropic efforts, was 33.

Jim Morrison

As the frontman and principal lyricist of The Doors, Jim Morrison started his career on the Sunset Strip and had great influence on the music scene. He died in his Paris apartment on July 3, 1971, at 27. Though no autopsy was performed because investigators saw no evidence of foul play, it’s widely believed that he died of a heart attack from a heroin overdose.


Legendary singer Prince was found dead at his Minneapolis home on April 21, 2016. He was just 57. The “Purple Rain” hitmaker was considered one of the most inventive singers of his generation. The news was initially reported by TMZ, before being confirmed by his publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, although no further details were released. Just days before on April 15, the singer had a medical emergency and was rushed to hospital after his private jet was forced to make an emergency landing in Illinois. The next day he appeared in concert and told fans he was suffering from the flu. The seven-time Grammy winner, who was born Prince Rogers Nelson, broke onto the music scene in the late ’70s with the songs including “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” His star soared in the ’80s with stellar albums that included “1999” and “Purple Rain,” which won an Academy Award in 1985 for Best Original Song Score. During his career, Prince sold more than 100 millions records.

Michael Jackson

On June 25, 2009, King of Pop Michael Jackson died at 50 from a cardiac arrest induced by a lethal overdose of propofol and benzodiazepine. The singer fell unconscious at his Los Angeles home and was rushed to the hospital after his personal physician, Conrad Murray, was unable to revive him. The “Thriller” singer, who days before his death had been rehearsing for his comeback tour, was pronounced dead a little over an hour later, sparking a global outpouring of grief. Two years later, his doctor was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for administering Michael the powerful sleep-inducing drug — propofol — that ended up killing him. He was sentenced to four years in prison, but due to overcrowding and good behavior, he was released after serving just two years.

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