At age 82 following an aortic aneurysm, Dick Williams, one of only two managers (along with Bill McKechnie) to lead three different ball clubs to the World Series. Williams (above) spent 34 seasons in the bigs, the first 13 as a weak-armed utilityman (.260). His last team, Boston, kept Williams on as a farm manager, then elevated him to skipper of the Red Sox in 1967, marking the beginning of a 21-year managerial career. In Year 1 he took the Sox to the World Series, where they lost in seven games to the Cardinals. Later, with the A's, he won back-to-back titles, in '72 and '73. (It was in Oakland that Williams adopted his mustache, matching the style of his hirsute players.) In '84, Williams led the Padres to their first Fall Classic, where they fell to the Tigers in five. After he was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2008, Williams opined on how his tough managerial style would fare with baseball's modern-day millionaires, saying, "I wouldn't last a week."
Following 16 NFL seasons, quarterback Kerry Collins, 38, who played for five teams, reinventing himself at nearly every stop. Taken fifth overall by the expansion Panthers in 1995 (just after leading Penn State to an undefeated season), Collins became a starter that first year and took the upstart team to the NFC Championship Game a year later. But off-field issues dogged Collins, first after he allegedly made a racist joke and later after he requested his own benching. He shuffled to New Orleans (picking up a DUI during that stint), and then to New York, where he worked with a team psychiatrist before leading the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV. After a stop in Oakland, Collins played out Act III in Tennessee, stepping in at age 35 for a flailing Vince Young to lead the Titans to a 13--3 record. Last Thursday, Young tweeted his appreciation: "Respect to my boy Kerry Collins.... thanks for what u have [taught] me n the years...."
Guilty to a felony charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States, Canadian doctor Anthony Galea. Among the products Galea, an injury-recovery specialist, admitted transporting across the border were human growth hormone and Actovegin, a derivative of calf's blood that is not approved for use in humans. Galea, who is unlicensed in the U.S., reportedly treated athletes, including MLB and NFL players, in their homes or hotels between October 2007 and September '09; and as part of his plea he agreed to cooperate with law-enforcement officials seeking information about the treatment of specific patients. With Galea's cooperation, authorities may seek to charge some of Galea's athlete clients (a group that included Alex Rodriguez and Tiger Woods, both of whom have denied receiving PEDs from Galea) if they determine that a player lied during their investigation. Galea faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
At age 47 of undetermined causes while playing pickup basketball, former NBA center-forward Armen Gilliam (above). Drafted by the Suns with the No. 2 overall pick in 1987 out of UNLV, where months earlier he had taken the Runnin' Rebels to the Final Four, Gilliam averaged more than 14 points per game in seven of his first nine NBA seasons but never quite lived up to the nickname, Hammer, that he'd earned in college. Instead, Gilliam drifted through the Hornets, 76ers, Nets, Bucks and Jazz before retiring in 2000. Afterward he dabbled in coaching, first with D-III Penn State--Altoona and then as a player-coach for the ABA's Pittsburgh Xplosion.
For July 20, a press conference at which 30-year-old Yao Ming, who popularized professional basketball throughout China, is expected to retire, nine years after he was selected by the Rockets with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft. The 7'6" center was already a force on his continent when he was drafted, having played for the Shanghai Sharks and for China's national team (with whom he'd won one Asian Championship). In Houston, though, he went global, proving himself among the world's best: He averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks and made the NBA All-Star Game in all but one season. Like many a 7-footer, however, Yao struggled with injuries and he missed 250 regular-season games over the past six years, the result mostly of foot and leg problems. After playing in just five games in 2010--11 and then undergoing ankle surgery in January, Yao told the league that he would throw in the towel, leading to a consolatory goodbye from one of his longtime rivals, Shaquille O'Neal, who proposed on Twitter, "Let's go on vacation, bro. Me and you."