As we all know, death is an inevitable part of life. Every second, minute, hour, day, month, or year, either directly or indirectly, death impacts each and every last one of us.
In 2013, many died, but there were four celebrity deaths that had great impact on the lives of many: Nelson Mandela, and the untimely deaths of James Avery, Lee Thompson Young, and Paul Walker.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in the Madiba clan in Mvezo, Transkei, in South Africa. This Noble Peace Prize winner set an example for many leaders across the world, including the beloved Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mandela’s efforts to achieve peace not only across the continent of Africa, but around the globe is world renowned.
Mandela was a well-educated man who practiced law before his involvement in politics. In 1962, he was convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state. Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment for leading an anti-apartheid campaign against the government. He served over 27 years of the sentenced before being released.
An international campaign successfully lobbied for his release in 1990. Upon his release, Mandela joined efforts to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the African National Congress to victory and became South Africa’s first Black president.
Mandela made it his government’s objective to nullify all institutionalized racism in hopes of ending poverty and inequality. He will forever be remembered as a great politician, lawyer, philanthropist, and an amazing revolutionary. He was born July 18, 1918, and died Dec. 5.
Lee Thompson Young, better known for his role as Jett on the Disney Channel’s original series The Famous Jett Jackson. The actor was born in Columbia, S.C. His first role was in a school play where he portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. From that moment Young knew he wanted to be an actor.
Besides Jett Jackson, Young also starred in the Disney film Johnny Tsunami. Many may remember that Young had roles in Friday Night Lights, Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story, Akeelah and the Bee and many other films and TV shows.
Young graduated with honors from the University of Southern California with a degree in cinematic arts. He was also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.
Unfortunately, Young was found dead in his Los Angeles apartment. After seeing self-inflicted gunshot wounds, authorities later discovered that Young suffered from depression and was diagnosed as bipolar, which is what is believed to have led to his suicide. Lee was Feb. 1, 1984, and died Aug. 19.
Paul Walker was most noted for his character in The Fast and The Furious, Brian O’Conner. Born in Glendale, Calif., Walker touched the lives of many through his acting career, a career that began as a toddler doing commercials for Pampers. From there his career took off. Some may remember his early work in the soap operas The Young and the Restless and Touched by an Angel in 1985, in which he was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Soap Opera at the Youth in Film Awards.
Walker gained his fame in 1998 from his role in the movie Meet the Deedles. 2001 is when his breakthrough role came, working alongside actor Vin Diesel in what would soon be a box office hit in the very first The Fast and the Furious.
Throughout The Fast and the Furious franchise, critics began noting that Walker was meant to be in a star role. Walker starred or was a supporting actor in over 20 different films and television shows, after his premiere role in The Fast and the Furious.
Outside of acting, Walker was the face of The Coty Prestige fragrance brand Davidoff Cool Water for Men. He also founded his own charity, Reach Out World Wide (ROWW), an organization providing relief for areas affected by natural disasters.
Walker died in a single-car accident in November. His character Brian O’Conner will be retired in his final film Fast & Furious 7, slated to be released April 10, 2015. He was born Sept. 12, 1973, and died Nov. 30.
Known across the nation to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as “Uncle Phil,” James Avery was an actor and poet. Born in Pughsville, Va., and raised in Atlantic City, N.J., Avery began his career as a television script writer.
After serving in Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Navy, Avery moved to San Diego, where his entertainment career really took off.
Outside of working in front of the camera, Avery also did voice acting for various animated television shows. He was the voice of Shredder in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series as well as the voice of War Machine in the Iron Man animated series.
Avery touched the hearts of millions as “Uncle Phil” He was like a father to those who did not have one. In fact, Avery’s character made TV Guides “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” list. With his large stature and booming voice, Avery was a force to be reckoned with. He died from complications not long after open-heart surgery. He was born Nov. 27, 1945, and died Dec. 31.
Whether a person has celebrity status or not, let us not forget our days are numbered. You never know when a person will be with you one minute and gone the next. Let us continue to love one another with brotherly love.
Rameel L. Cleveland is a senior mass communication major from Detroit.