Through the years, since celebrities began earning serious money, entirely too many have been lost to hideous accidents like the overdose that claimed Tommy Hanson’s life Monday night. Some have been car crashes-James Dean and Johnny Horton to name a couple. Patsy Cline and 3 others were lost in a private plane crash. Jim Reeves, Thurman Munson, Ricky Nelson , John Denver, John F. Kennedy JR. and most recently Payne Stewart were all lost in accidents with their private planes. But too many celebrities have been taken from the world by alcohol or recreational drugs.
Hank Williams’ death at age 29 was caused by a heart attack brought on by alcohol and drugs. Alcohol poisoning took Keith Whitley’s life at 34. Drugs played a part in the deaths of Elvis, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. While Tommy Hanson may not have known some of the names or followed the story, did he never hear of Len Bias, the Maryland basketball player who died of a cocaine overdose after being drafted by the Celtics? Did he not know of Dwight Gooden and Darrell Strawberry sacrificing their brilliant careers to drugs? If he knew these things and still took drugs, it just shows that major money and good sense do not go hand in hand.
Thomas J. Hanson Jr. was born in Tulsa shortly before the 1986 World Series. His family moved to California when he was a boy and the Braves drafted him while he was at Riverside Community College in California. His first year in the majors was his best with an 11-4 record. In the last few years, a sore shoulder and a concussion damaged his chances of returning to the majors. Still, nothing could have suggested he would die this way. He was never caught and suspended for drugs, as the Mets’ Jenri Mejia most recently was.
The postmortem on Hanson was reportedly begun early this morning in Atlanta. Its results should be available soon enough. The toxicology reports are another matter. They tend to take several weeks to be finished. With outlets such as Deadspin and TMZ, those results will become available, sordid though they may well be. Catastrophic illness and death reveal all secrets. I can’t help but come back to where I started. Didn’t he know this could happen? How could he have missed the reports of Lamar Odom’s coma? Odom woke up. Hanson never did. R I P
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