Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2020

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FILE - In this July 19, 2020, file photo, people gather at a makeshift memorial near the home of Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., in Atlanta. Lewis, who died Friday at age 80, was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists who organized the 1963 March on Washington, and spoke shortly before the group's leader, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., gave his "I Have a Dream" speech to a vast sea of people. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

In a year defined by a devastating pandemic, the world lost iconic defenders of civil rights, great athletes and entertainers who helped define their genres.

Many of their names hold a prominent place in the collective consciousness — RBG, Kobe, Maradona, Eddie Van Halen, Little Richard, Sean Connery, Alex Trebek, Christo — but pandemic restrictions often limited the public's ability to mourn their loss in a year that saw more than a million people die from the coronavirus.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — known as the Notorious RBG to her many admirers — was one of the many noteworthy figures who died in 2020.

In a court known for solemn legal proceedings, Ginsburg became a cultural and social media icon whose fierce defense of women's rights earned her a devoted following. She died in September after 27 years on the country's highest court. Making few concessions to age and health problems, she showed a steely resilience and became the leader of liberal justices on the court.

The world also said goodbye to U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement who died in July.

Other former political figures who died this year include Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, New York Mayor David Dinkins, Arizona Gov. Jane Hull, Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar and FBI Director William S. Sessions.

Some of the year's deaths struck down relatively young people, leaving mourners with the heartbreak of a life gone too soon.

Basketball great Kobe Bryant died along with several others in a January helicopter crash at age 41. And in a shock to fans, actor Chadwick Boseman, who inspired audiences with his portrayal of comic book superhero Black Panther, died of cancer in August at age 43.