Edward Brooke, a Massachusetts politician who was the first African-American to be elected to the Senate post-Reconstruction, died at the age of 95 on January 3.
Joseph Shambrey, another Tuskegee Airman and a lifelong friend of Clarence E. Huntley Jr, died on the same day as Huntley. Both men were 91.
Gospel singer Andrae Crouch made waves in the music industry, working with artists like Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Quincy Jones. He died on January 8, days after suffering a heart attack. He was 72.
VH1 reality star Ahmad “Real” Givens died on February 21 at the age of 33 after a long struggle with stage 4 colon cancer. Givens shot to fame after appearing on VH1’s I Love New York, later going on to land his own reality show, Real Chance of Love.
Throughout the course of his career, jazz trumpeter Clark Terry worked with mainstays like Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Terry died on February 21 of natural causes. He was 94.
The NBA world lost a legend on February 28 when longtime Knicks player Anthony Mason died of congestive heart failure at the age of 48.
Charmayne “Maxee” Maxwell rose to fame as a member of the 90s R&B group Brownstone. Maxwell died prematurely on February 28 after falling at her Los Angeles home and cutting her neck on a wine glass. She was 46.
Chicago White Sox legend Minnie Minoso made history as the city’s first Black major league player. He died on March 1 at the age of 90 after suffering a tear in his pulmonary artery.
Windell Middlebrooks made a name for himself in Hollywood playing in shows like Cougar Town as well as starring in Miller High Life beer commercials. He died on March 9 at the age of 36. No cause of death was reported.
After spending weeks in hospice care for cancer, Percy Sledge died on April 14 at the age of 73. The soulful crooner was best known for his hit song, “When a Man Loves a Woman.”
Bahamian singer Johnny Kemp died suddenly on April 16 at the age of 55. Kemp’s wife confirmed that the “Just Got Paid” singer drowned at a Jamaican beach after falling from a boulder, which knocked him unconscious and broke his back.
The golf world mourned the loss of Calvin Peete, who died April 29 at the age of 71. To date, only Tiger Woods has surpassed Peete’s career achievements.
The world mourned when “Stand By Me” singer Ben E. King died on May 1 at the age of 76. Family members say that King was battling an unnamed illness at the time of his death.
Errol Brown, the Hot Chocolate singer who gave us classic hits like “You Sexy Thing” and “It Started With a Kiss,” died on May 6 at the age of 71. In a statement, Brown’s manager said that the singer died of liver cancer at his home in the Bahamas.
Iconic singer and guitarist B.B. King died on May 14 at the age of 89 after being hospitalized for dehydration. During his larger-than-life career, King won 15 Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Jazz trumpeter and studio musician for Motown Records Marcus Belgrave died on May 24 of congestive heart failure. He was 78.
Best known for his roles in Friday, White Men Can’t Jump and Harlem Nights, actor-comedian Reynaldo Rey died on May 28 from complications following a stroke. He was 75.
The world lost a jazz legend when alto saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman died on June 11 from cardiac arrest. He was 85.
Six months after being found facedown and unresponsive in a bathtub, Bobbi Kristina Brown, the 22-year-old daughter of Whitney Houston, died at a hospice center on July 26. Bobby Brown has filed a criminal lawsuit against Brown’s boyfriend in connection with her death.
Long-time civil rights activist, former NAACP chairman and senator Julian Bond died August 15 at the age of 75. Bond was one of the original leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
E’Dena Hines, an aspiring actress and the step-granddaughter of Morgan Freeman was fatally stabbed outside of her New York apartment on August 16. Police say that Hines’ boyfriend was reportedly under the influence of drugs and was attempting to perform an exorcism when he repeatedly stabbed the 33-year-old.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Civil rights pioneer Amelia Boynton Robinson died on August 26 at the age of 104 after complications from a stroke. Referred to as the Matriarch of the Voting Rights Movement, Robinson was a leading figure during the Selma marches.
Perhaps best known for his backboard-shattering dunks, Darryl Dawkins was an NBA legend. Dawkins passed away on August 27 at age 58 of a heart attack.
Kyle Jean-Baptiste made Broadway history after becoming the first Black actor to play the lead character of Jean Valjean in the stage product of Les Miserables. The rising star tragically died August 28 after falling from a New York fire escape. He was 21.
Sam Sarpong rose to fame as both a model and as co-host of MTV’s Yo Momma. Sarpong committed suicide on October 26 in Pasadena, California. He was 40.
Singer, musician, songwriter and New Orleans staple Allen Toussaint died in Spain on November 9 at the age of 77 after suffering a heart attack.
Musician, trumpeter and founding member of Sly and at the Family Stone Cynthia Robinson died on November 24, one month after sharing that she had been diagnosed with cancer. She was 69.
The inspiration behind HBO’s acclaimed series The Wire, Melvin Williams died on December 3 from reported cancer. Williams’ journey from Baltimore drug lord to a reformed activist inspired Hollywood show runners.