Black Celebs We Lost in 2023

Photo:  Franziska Krug (Getty Images)
Photo: Franziska Krug (Getty Images)

Updated 05/24/2023 at 2:46 p.m. ET:

We are now over a quarter of the way through 2023 and the list of Black celebs is already longer than it should be. From talented athletes to beloved entertainers, here are the Black celebrities we’ve lost in 2023.

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Tina Turner

Photo:  DENIZE alain/Sygma (Getty Images)
Photo: DENIZE alain/Sygma (Getty Images)

Beloved singer Tina Turner died on May 24 at the age of 83. The “What’s Love Got To Do With It” singer had been fighting illness since 2016 when she was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016. She also had a kidney transplant in 2017. Known as the “Queen of Rock and Roll,” Turner was a star in the industry since the 1960s. Throughout her career, she sold more than 180 million albums and won 12 Grammy awards.

Jim Brown

Photo:  Albert Chau/FilmMagic (Getty Images)
Photo: Albert Chau/FilmMagic (Getty Images)

On May 19, the nation mourned the loss of another Black legend; this time it was Jim Brown. The actor and the greatest running back the NFL had ever seen, died at the age of 87. His wife made the sad announcement on Instagram. Read this loving tribute the Root wrote shortly after the announcement.


Harry Belafonte

Photo:  Kevin Winter (Getty Images)
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Harry Belafonte died at 96 on April 25 of congestive heart failure. Not only was he an accomplished singer, actor and entertainer, but he was also a fierce civil rights activist. He once said, “I was an activist long before I became an artist. They both service each other, but the activism is first.”

Otis Redding III

Photo:  Rick Diamond (Getty Images)
Photo: Rick Diamond (Getty Images)

The son of the iconic soul singer, Otis Redding III, died on April 20 at the age of 59 after a long battle with cancer. Like his father, Redding III became an artist and was a longtime member of The Redding in the 1980s along with his brother, Dexter, and cousin, Mark Lockett.


Ahmad Jamal

Photo:  Andy Sheppard/Redferns (Getty Images)
Photo: Andy Sheppard/Redferns (Getty Images)

Iconic jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal died on April 16 at 92 of prostate cancer. He influenced countless jazz musicians and was a close friend of jazz legend Miles Davis when he was living.

Howell Wayans

Photo:  Getty Images (Getty Images)
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

Howell Wayans was the patriarch of the Wayans family which included accomplished actors and comedians Keenan Ivory, Damon, Shawn and Dwayne Wayans. He died at the age of 86 on April 1. Marlon shared the news of his father’s death in an emotional post on Instagram.

Willis Reed

Photo:  David Becker (Getty Images)
Photo: David Becker (Getty Images)

NBA Hall of Famer Willis Reed died at the age of 80 on March 21. No cause of death was given. As a layer, Reed played in the NBA for 11 seasons, all with the New York Knicks. During his career, he was a seven-time NBA all-star, a two-time champion, a two-time Finals MVP and an MVP.


Lance Reddick

Photo:  Tommaso Boddi/WireImage (Getty Images)
Photo: Tommaso Boddi/WireImage (Getty Images)

Veteran actor Lance Reddick shockingly died on March 17 at the age of 60. The cause of death is unknown. Reddick has appeared in a plethora of TV shows and movies including, Fringe, Oz, Bosch and Lost. His most celebrated role is as Officer Cedrick Daniels on the greatest TV show ever, The Wire.

Stanley Wilson Jr.

Screenshot:  Sports Illustrated/YouTube
Screenshot: Sports Illustrated/YouTube

Former NFL Stanley Wilson Jr. died at the age of 40 on Feb. 16. The entirety of his three-year professional career was spent with the Detroit Lions. According to TMZ, Wilson died while being transferred to a mental health hospital, where he collapsed

Trugoy the Dove

Photo:  Simone Joyner/WireImage (Getty Images)
Photo: Simone Joyner/WireImage (Getty Images)

Born David Jude Jolicoeur, Trugoy helped form the legendary hip-hop group, De La Soul. He, unfortunately, died on Feb. 12 at the age of 54. He founded the group while in high school in Long Island N.Y. along with fellow group members Posdnuos and Maseo. The cause of his death has not been revealed.


Barrett Strong

Photo:  L. Busacca/WireImage (Getty Images)
Photo: L. Busacca/WireImage (Getty Images)

Barret Strong was a successful singer and songwriter known for his work with Motown records. In 1959, he wrote, “Money (That’s What I Want),” and it became the first hit single for the iconic music company. His passing was confirmed on Jan. 29. He was 81.

Brandon Smiley

Screenshot:  Instagram/@comedianbrandonsmiley
Screenshot: Instagram/@comedianbrandonsmiley

The son of veteran radio personality Rickey Smiley, Brandon, died on Jan. 29. At the young age of 32. Rickey shared the news of his son’s death on his Instagram.

Jesse Lemonier

Photo:  Getty Images (Getty Images)
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

Former NFL player Jesse Lemonier died at the age of 25 on Jan. 26. After going undrafted in 2020, he played in the NFL for three years, one of which was on the practice squad. He also played for the Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals.


CJ Harris

Photo:  Chelsea Lauren/WireImage (Getty Images)
Photo: Chelsea Lauren/WireImage (Getty Images)

Former American Idol contestant CJ Harris suddenly died of a heart attack on Jan. 20 at the age of 31.

Arthur Duncan

Photo:  Disney General Entertainment Content (Getty Images)
Photo: Disney General Entertainment Content (Getty Images)

Longtime tap dancer Arthur Duncan was known as an “Entertainer’s Entertainer,” and performed on The Lawrence Welk Show from 1964 to 1982. Sadly, Duncan died on Jan. 3 at the age of 97 from a stroke and pneumonia.

Charles White

Photo:  Heinz Kluetmeier /Sports Illustrated (Getty Images)
Photo: Heinz Kluetmeier /Sports Illustrated (Getty Images)

Charles White was a former NFL player during the 1980s and one of the best college running backs in the storied history of the University of Southern California. While in college, he won the 1979 Heisman Trophy. He played in the NFL for nine seasons, five with the Cleveland Browns and four with the Los Angeles Rams. He died of liver cancer on Jan. 11 at the age of 64.


Kevin Lemons

Screenshot:  11 Alive News
Screenshot: 11 Alive News

Atlanta-based gospel singer Kevin Lemons died at the age of 44 after dying in his home.

Gordy Harmon

Photo:  Michael Ochs Archives (Getty Images)
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives (Getty Images)

One of the founding members of the beloved R&B group, The Whispers, Gordy Harmon died on Jan. 5 at the age of 79. He died of natural causes. He founded the group in 1964 in Los Angeles along with his twin brothers, Wallace and Walter Scott, Marcus Huston and Nicholas Caldwell.

Uche Nwaneri

Photo:  Wesley Hitt (Getty Images)
Photo: Wesley Hitt (Getty Images)

Former NFL player Uche Nwaneri died at the tail end of 2022 on Dec. 30 at the age of 38. The cause of death was a heart attack. He played seven years with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Gangsta Boo

Photo:  Prince Williams/Wireimage (Getty Images)
Photo: Prince Williams/Wireimage (Getty Images)

Hip-hop pioneer Gangsta Boo died on Jan. 1 in Memphis, Tenn. at the age of 43. She was one of the key members of the southern hip-hop group, Three 6 Mafia.”


Fred White

Photo:  Rob Verhorst/Redferns (Getty Images)
Photo: Rob Verhorst/Redferns (Getty Images)

Fred White was one of the early members of Earth, Wind & Fire and was a long-time drummer for the iconic group. He died on Jan. 1 at the age of 67.

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