Shad Gaspard, a former WWE wrestling star, has been found dead near Venice Beach in California, three days after the 39-year-old went missing while swimming with his son. His son was rescued after they were caught in a rip tide on Sunday at the Los Angeles-area beach, but Gaspard was not found.
CBS Los Angeles’ Tina Patel reported on Wednesday that Los Angeles County Lifeguards confirmed the body matches that of Gaspard. The Los Angeles Police Department later confirmed the body was Gaspard and said his family had been notified of his death.
— Tina Patel (@tina_patel) May 20, 2020
#PierIC at 2:19AM @lacolifeguards @LACOFD @LAPDHQ respond to #VenicePier to a report of a body along the shoreline that matches the description of Sunday’s missing swimmer. Crews on-scene extricate from the water and transfer to @lacountymec pic.twitter.com/b5xYmCOBkj
— LACoFD Lifeguards (@LACoLifeguards) May 20, 2020
The WWE said in a statement, “WWE is saddened to learn that former WWE Superstar Shad Gaspard has passed away at the age of 39. Gaspard had gone missing while swimming with his son at Venice Beach in California on May 17. In his final act, Gaspard instructed lifeguards to save his son’s life. WWE extends its condolences to Gaspard’s family, friends and fans.”
According to ABC News, the Los Angeles Fire Department was called out by the LAPD at around 1:46 a.m. Wednesday to Lifeguard Tower 26 at Venice Beach. Gaspard’s body was found near the Venice Pier.
Gaspard and his 10-year-old son, Aryeh, were caught in a rip current while swimming last Sunday about 4 p.m. in the 4200 block of Ocean Front Walk. Gaspard had been spending the day with his wife and son at the beach. After Aryeh was rescued, a search continued for his father. The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its efforts to find the elder Gaspard after a search of more than 16 man-hours and 70 square nautical miles.
According to TMZ, eyewitnesses reported lifeguards racing into the ocean in a desperate attempt to pull a group of swimmers out of a strong rip current. The witnesses reported Gaspard directing the lifeguards to rescue his son first before a wave submerged the former pro wrestler. Divers and helicopters scoured the area but were unable to locate him.
His wife, Siliana Gaspard, who is a fitness trainer and nutritionist, took to Instagram to plead with the public for any additional information regarding Gaspard’s whereabouts. In a statement issued Tuedsay, Gaspard’s family thanked the first responders, lifeguards, coast guards, drivers, fire and police departments “for their continued efforts to help find our beloved Shad.
“Shad is a fighter, a warrior, and a magical soul. We are hoping and praying for his safe return,” his wife said prior to learning of his death.
Gaspard Shined in the WWE in a Tag Team Known as Cryme Tyme With JTG
As one half of the team Cryme Tyme with fellow wrestler Jayson Anthony Paul, AKA JTG, Gaspard was a formidable force in the world of professional wrestling.
The Sun reported that the pair described themselves as brothers and did everything together. Paul’s mother Carol Paul said her son was “numb” and “shaken” since the news broke of Gaspard being lost at sea.
JTG recently shared a screenshot of a text message he received from Gaspard in early 2020:
— JTG (@Jtg1284) May 19, 2020
The WWE issued a statement about Gaspard, saying:
Gaspard was best known in WWE as one-half of Cryme Tyme with JTG. The fan-favorite duo memorably joined forces with John Cena during his 2008 rivalry with JBL, and competed for the WWE Tag Team Titles at SummerSlam 2009. Shad and JTG would later square off in heated fashion after a falling out in 2010.
Before entering the squared circle, Gaspard played basketball at Georgia Perimeter College. He was also a former bodyguard for P.Diddy, Britney Spears and Mike Tyson. Gaspard was also a multitalented individual, creating his own graphic novel and acting in several TV shows and films, including ‘Brothers’ and ‘Think Like a Man Too.’
WWE extends its condolences to Gaspard’s family, friends and fans.
Gaspard Said His Son Was ‘the Brightest Star in My Universe’
View this post on Instagram
Who needs the world when you have a Sun. Nothing is more important to me in this life or the next than my sun, the brightest star in my universe. . . . . . . . . #Father-son #curacao #haitian #bulgarian #QuarantineLife #ILoveMyKid #CrymeTyme #Wwe #Kickboxing #MMA #UFC #muaytgai #boxing #boxingkids #muaythaikickboxing #wrestling
Former WWE wrestler and Hollywood star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson took to Twitter to praise Gaspard, who he called a “great guy,” and to offer support to his family.
My prayers and hope for Shad Gaspard’s wife, son and family during this unthinkable time. Man, this is a tough one. A really tough one.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) May 20, 2020
ESPN said that for Gaspard, family always came first, and his son saw him as a superhero.
Los Angeles Fire Department Lifeguard Section Chief Ken Haskett told NBC News a lifeguard tried to save both Gaspard and his 10-year-old son. Haskett told NBC, “He was going to try to rescue both. But the father, in his last few words, said, ‘Save my son.’”
Haskett added that Gaspard pushed his son to the lifeguard before “he got pushed back down under a wave, and that’s the last he’s been seen.”
WWE CEO Vince McMahon said on Twitter, “The thoughts of everyone at WWE are with Shad Gaspard’s family during this difficult time.”
Gaspard Once Stopped an Armed Robbery in Florida
The Coral Springs Police Department said the suspect, who appeared to be inebriated, approached Gaspard demanding that he purchase him a beer. When Gaspard requested that he ask more politely, the suspect proceeded to draw a weapon before being pushed against a cooler and disarmed by the wrestler.