Students remember significant celebrity deaths

Alyssa Ochss

David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Prince and Steve Irwin. These are just a few of the celebrities who died during the generation where the average Oakland University student grew up. People have said they left a lasting impression — not only on their childhood, but the rest of their lives. 

Four students said Michael Jackson was the one death that defined their generation. He died on June 25, 2009, and, according to The Guardian, the cause of his death was first named as cardiac arrest. 

NPR reported almost hourly updates of the situation from the time Jackson got to the hospital to when his body was sent for an autopsy. His death was later found to be a homicide.

Ahmia Jones, a senior and integrative studies major, and Kayla Frowner, also a senior and health sciences major, remember a collective sadness from the world when they found out Jackson had died. Frowner remembered the news of his death being widespread.

“I remember hearing about it on the news, it was everywhere,” Frowner said. “Every time we got in the car, we would listen to Michael Jackson because that was what every radio station was playing. There was a bunch of scandal with his death as well with his doctor giving him the pills that killed him.

Jones remembered people were constantly listening to his music even months after his death.

“I remember when they had his funeral on the TV, I was upset about it, I was crying,” Jones said. “I know my mom was crying about it. It really hit a lot of people.” 

Both Jones and Frowner said Jackson left a significant impact on the world and paved the way for other great celebrities to come to light, such as stars like Usher and Lady Gaga, who were influenced by Jackson’s work. 

Steve Irwin’s death was another mentioned when talking about generation-defining and world-shocking moments. He died Sept. 4, 2006, of complications from getting stung by a stingray. Many newspapers, like the New York Times and The Guardian, dubbed him to be the “Crocodile Hunter” and the “Wildlife Master.” 

His children and wife now carry on his legacy. His daughter, Bindi, recently became engaged in July. Her brother, Robert Irwin, will be the one to walk her down the aisle in her father’s stead. 

Linzi Hobbs and Olivia Ray, both second-year medical students, said the most shocking part about his death was how he died. No one expected a man who had conquered crocodiles and other vicious beasts to be killed by something as small as a stingray. 

“I remember everyone was really sad because a stingray had killed him — it was just a stingray — and he had been around like crocodiles,” Ray said. 

Hobbs remembered not only his shocking death, but the impact he left on the world when it came to understanding and dealing with animals.

“Steve Irwin, he brought awareness to all the different animals and that they’re not all bad,” Hobbs said. 

A few years after these celebrities’ deaths, their legacy lives on in the form of their children or in the form of the many fans who still idolize them. New documentaries, whether they be good or bad, and memorials are still coming out and being held everyday. 

They may be gone from the physical world, but their memories and legacies can live on.