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A look back on the 10 most-read sports stories on KSL.com from 2021

BYU fans celebrate after winning an NCAA college football game against Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. BYU won 26-17.

BYU fans celebrate after winning an NCAA college football game against Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. BYU won 26-17. (Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

LOS ANGELES — It's hard to recap a season of sports, but what a year it's been.

There's been highs and lows and everything in between, but mostly a lot of great athletic achievements for the athletes and athletic programs that compete in the state of Utah.

Whether it's the Utah Jazz securing the best record in the NBA in the 2020-21 season, BYU joining the Big 12, Utah earning a trip to the Rose Bowl or Utah State's unbelievable turnaround in football, there's much to celebrate among some of the more sad news.

Here's a look at the 10 most-read sports stories over the last year:


Patrick Kinahan: Ohio State does the impossible by tainting Rose Bowl

Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson, right, celebrates his touchdown against Michigan State with teammate Chris Olave during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.
Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson, right, celebrates his touchdown against Michigan State with teammate Chris Olave during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: Jay LaPrete, Associated Press)

Author: Patrick Kinahan, KSL.com Contributor

Date published: Dec. 28

Synopsis: Ahead of the 2022 Rose Bowl, four Ohio State players opted out of the bowl game to pursue the NFL draft. Plain and simple, there's no other way to label it, the choice of several Ohio State players has tainted the greatest tradition in college football.


Utah football player Aaron Lowe killed in Sunday morning shooting

Samuelu Elisaia, right, former University of Utah football player and teammate of sophomore defensive back Aaron Lowe and University of Utah student, Madison Jacobus embraces each other infront of a makeshift memorial at the incident of shooting on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Salt Lake City’s Sugar House neighborhood. University of Utah sophomore and football defensive back Aaron Lowe was shot and killed early Sunday morning during a house party.
Samuelu Elisaia, right, former University of Utah football player and teammate of sophomore defensive back Aaron Lowe and University of Utah student, Madison Jacobus embraces each other infront of a makeshift memorial at the incident of shooting on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Salt Lake City’s Sugar House neighborhood. University of Utah sophomore and football defensive back Aaron Lowe was shot and killed early Sunday morning during a house party. (Photo: Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)

Author: Josh Furlong, KSL.com

Date published: Sept. 26

Synopsis: Almost nine months to the death of his high school friend Ty Jordan, defensive back Aaron Lowe was killed while at a party following Utah's win over Washington State. It was the second death of two Utah football players in less than a year's time — both wore the No. 22.


Utah Jazz legend Mark Eaton, 64, dies following apparent bicycle crash

Mark Eaton hugs former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan during a ceremony to unveil a banner in Sloan's honor during halftime of the Utah Jazz game in Salt Lake City Friday, Jan. 31, 2014.
Mark Eaton hugs former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan during a ceremony to unveil a banner in Sloan's honor during halftime of the Utah Jazz game in Salt Lake City Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. (Photo: Jeffrey Allred, Deseret News)

Author: Ryan Miller, KSL.com

Date published: May 29

Synopsis: Former Utah Jazz center and two-time NBA defensive player of the year Mark Eaton died after he was found unconscious near his home in Summit County following an apparent bike crash. Eaton played 11 seasons with the Utah Jazz from 1982-1993, becoming one of the best defenders in the game.


Former BYU, NBA star Shawn Bradley paralyzed following accident on his bike near St. George home

Mavericks center Shawn Bradley vents toward the referee as he is charged with a technical foul during the first half of a game against the Jazz. Mavs guard Robert Pack (right) tries to get Shawn to back down.
Mavericks center Shawn Bradley vents toward the referee as he is charged with a technical foul during the first half of a game against the Jazz. Mavs guard Robert Pack (right) tries to get Shawn to back down. (Photo: Gary M. McKellar, Deseret News)

Author: Sean Walker, KSL.com

Date published: March 17

Synopsis: Former BYU and NBA star Shawn Bradley was paralyzed after he was struck by a vehicle while riding his bike in January, though details weren't released until March. Bradley was riding near his home in St. George when he was hit from behind by a vehicle.


After making an emergency landing, Jazz finally fly off for Memphis — but without Donovan Mitchell

A Delta Airlines aircraft makes its approach at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas, in this Monday, June 24, 2019, file photo.
A Delta Airlines aircraft makes its approach at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas, in this Monday, June 24, 2019, file photo. (Photo: Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press)

Author: Ryan Miller, KSL.com

Date published: March 30

Synopsis: Minutes after the Utah Jazz charter flight took off for its scheduled game against Memphis, the plane struck a flock of birds, which caused an engine fire and failure. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing. Once everything was settled and the Jazz took a new flight, Donovan Mitchell opted out of the trip.


Biles withdraws from gymnastics final to protect team, self

Simone Biles, of the United States, watches gymnasts perform at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. Biles says she wasn't in the right 'headspace' to compete and withdrew from gymnastics team final to protect herself.
Simone Biles, of the United States, watches gymnasts perform at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. Biles says she wasn't in the right 'headspace' to compete and withdrew from gymnastics team final to protect herself. (Photo: Ashley Landis, Associated Press)

Author: Will Graves, Associated Press

Date published: July 27

Synopsis: Among all the stories from the Summer Olympics, it was Simone Biles pulling out of the team events in gymnastics that stole the stage. The gymnast considered the Greatest Of All Time in the sport, said she withdrew to protect her mental health. Biles later said she got the "twisties" and had a difficult time returning to the sport.


Olympic dream 'finished': MyKayla Skinner wins silver on vault

Mykayla Skinner of the United States, performs on the vault during the artistic gymnastics women's apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Mykayla Skinner of the United States, performs on the vault during the artistic gymnastics women's apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo: Ashley Landis, Associated Press)

Author: Josh Furlong, KSL.com

Date published: Aug. 1

Synopsis: With Simone Biles out of the vault individual event, former University of Utah gymnast MyKayla Skinner got a call up to perform in the event to replace Biles. Skinner represented Team USA well and finished with a silver in the event, capping off an incredible story of redemption and hard work.


9 no more: BYU snaps losing skid with emphatic 26-17 win over No. 21 Utes

BYU players celebrate and Utah players look for the exit as they fall to the Cougars in an NCAA football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. BYU won 26-17, ending a nine-game losing streak to the Utes.
BYU players celebrate and Utah players look for the exit as they fall to the Cougars in an NCAA football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. BYU won 26-17, ending a nine-game losing streak to the Utes. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Author: Sean Walker, KSL.com and Josh Furlong, KSL.com

Date published: Sept. 11

Synopsis: After nine failed attempts, BYU football finally shook off the drought to beat rival Utah after a decade. The Cougars dominated from start to finish in an electric environment from the crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium. In the end, nearly 60,000 fans joined Kalani Sitake and the players on the field for an after party.


It's official: After decade of independence, BYU will join Big 12 in 2023

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe speaks at a press conference where the school announced it accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 Conference in Provo on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. At right, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby joins via video conference. BYU will play all sports provided by the Big 12 except for equestrian, rowing and wrestling. Men’s volleyball will continue to play in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, as the Big 12 does not offer the sport.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe speaks at a press conference where the school announced it accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 Conference in Provo on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. At right, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby joins via video conference. BYU will play all sports provided by the Big 12 except for equestrian, rowing and wrestling. Men’s volleyball will continue to play in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, as the Big 12 does not offer the sport. (Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Author: Sean Walker, KSL.com

Date published: Sept. 10

Synopsis: A day before ending a nine-game losing streak to rival Utah, BYU officially accepted an invitation to the Big 12 with Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. The jump to a Power Five conference and BYU's end to independence doesn't come until 2023, but it was the start of an incredible weekend for BYU sports.


A fan crossed the line, but Clarkson realized it wasn't worth his daughter's future Bugatti

Jordan Clarkson celebrates during Utah's win over Dallas.
Jordan Clarkson celebrates during Utah's win over Dallas. (Photo: Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)

Author: Ryan Miller, KSL.com

Date published: Dec. 27

Synopsis: Trash talk from a fan sitting courtside in San Antonio took a turn and upset Jazz player Jordan Clarkson. Though the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year loves to go back and forth with fans, whatever was said that night went too far. Clarkson realized going after the fan wasn't worth it and figured his money could be saved to buy his daughter a future Bugatti.

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