Snooker Star Alex Hurricane Higgins Dies
Jon Gripton, Sky News
Former world champion snooker star Alex Hurricane Higgins has died.
Higgins pictured in his, and the sport's, TV heyday
He was 61 and had suffered ill health for some time.
Belfast-born Higgins, who won the world title in 1972 and 1982, was suffering from throat cancer.
Fellow former world champion Steve Davis said: "He was an inspiration to my generation to take the game up. I do not think his contribution to snooker can be underestimated."
Higgins was discovered at a block of flats in the centre of Belfast. The player had not been answering his mobile phone and the flat had to be broken into, sources close to him told the Press Association.
His biographer and friend Sean Boru told Sky News
: "Everyone knew this was coming but it is still an awful shock.
"Alex may have passed away, but he will be somewhere even now still playing snooker," he added.
"He made snooker what it is. Alex literally took (the sport) by the scruff of the neck and dragged it screaming into the 20th century."
Higgins had battled throat cancer for some time
Snooker promoter Barry Hearn said Higgins would be remembered as the "original people's champion" and the man who transformed the popularity of the sport.
Mr Hearn said: ""He was controversial at times, but he always played the game in the right spirit."
Away from the snooker hall, Higgins' private life was a chaotic whirlwind of drink, womanising, fights, illness and debt.
He earned millions from the sport but blew it all in a long and turbulent descent into homelessness and drink.
His career disintegrated in a blizzard of fines, bans and court-cases and he was left penniless after losing his luxury house in Cheshire to the taxman.
He was divorced by two wives, Cara and Lynn.