In looking back at the '00s, the sad tales of luminaries who died too young stand out. Newsweek asked friends and admirers for their reflections:
- Randy Pausch, d. 2008: "Despite it all," JJ Abrams writes, the "Last Lecture" professor "was radiant, kind, and good-humored."
- Tim Russert, d. 2008: "There aren’t many shining examples these days—of anything," Brian Williams writes. "Tim was one."
- Bernie Mac, d. 2008: The comedian's appeal was universal, McG writes. "A little white kid or a middle-aged black guy: everyone loved Bernie Mac."
- Aaliyah, d. 2001: Timbaland, who worked with her on One in a Million, invokes the album's title: "No description could have been more fitting."
- Dale Earnhardt, d. 2001: After the NASCAR legend's death, Darrell Waltrip parked next to "a big wreath with a 3 on it in Dale’s spot. I just about turned around and went home."
- David Foster Wallace, d. 2008: The "generous spirit" of his work, Malcolm Jones writes, "rekindled the idea that, in the right hands, the art of fiction was still capable of almost anything."
- Benazir Bhutto, d. 2007: The former PM of Pakistan "never gave up her culture," Madeleine Albright writes.
- Heath Ledger, d. 2008: "The James Dean of his generation," writes Ramin Setoodeh.
- Neda Agha Soltan, d. 2009: "All she wanted was to live the kind of life each of us takes for granted," writes Azar Nafisi.
- Pat Tillman, d. 2004: The NFL star and soldier "died as he lived," John McCain writes, "as a most honorable man."
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