Former WWE star Shad Gaspard’s body was found on Wednesday morning after he had been missing for three days.
The 39-year-old was discovered on Venice Beach where he had been caught in a riptide with his 10-year-old son, whose life he managed to save before drowning.
According to reports, when rescuers entered the sea to come to their aid, he directed them to his son first, but moments later a huge wave crashed down on the former tag team star and he wasn’t seen alive again.
We know Gaspard as a former WWE star with immense presence and charisma. We know he excelled as part of Cryme Tyme with his tag team partner, JTG.
We also know he died a hero, putting his son’s life before his own.
But he was also a lot more inspiring than most people really realise.
He was a bodyguard for Mike Tyson, P. Diddy and Britney Spears
At the age of five, Gaspard began boxing and martial arts training that would later lead to competing in Toughman bouts at the age of 16.
It’s believed he had a positive record of 57-26 as an amateur boxer, but he also caught eyes competing in wrestling, track, and basketball in high school.
It would be the latter that carried him to college as he played basketball at Georgia Perimeter College.
Why did he do that? Because he was 6ft 7in and weighed around 285lbs. After college, and with his basketball career not panning out, he combined his size and love for fighting to become a bodyguard.
He looked after global icons like P. Diddy, Mike Tyson and Britney Spears.
With Diddy and Tyson both being New York-natives, it was perfect for Brooklyn-born Gaspard, which is exactly where Tyson was born, too.
He was the body behind the Kratos, the main character in the smash-hit game, God of War
Given his impressive physique, Gaspard was the frame behind Kratos in the Playstation game, God of War.
He also provided some body model and motion capture work for the 2018 game.
Gaspard is credited in the video game for ‘movement and mocap’, but claimed he provided at least some likeness and performance for lead character Kratos, together with stuntman Eric Jacobus and voice actor Chris Jai Alex.
When you look at the picture he provided on Twitter, it certainly looks like he was correct.
God of War had sold 10 million units as of May 2019 and was an undisputed success.
He stopped an armed robbery in 2016
Back in 2016, Gaspard was able to disarm and subdue a potential robber in a Florida convenience store.
The Coral Springs Police Department told TMZ the suspect ‘appeared to be drunk’ and approached Gaspard, saying, “Hey man, buy me a beer,” to which Gaspard responded with: “There’s a better way to ask than that.”
The suspect then pulled out the weapon – which turned out to be a BB gun – and Gaspard made the decision to push him against a cooler and disarmed him.
Gaspard told Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet the suspect stated he was going to rob the store after pulling out the gun.
He only realised it was a BB gun when he attempted to remove the gun’s magazine.
“I thought it was a real gun the entire time, and honestly, I just didn’t want anyone to get hurt,” he explained.
“I just kept thinking about how I wanted to make sure I got home to my son.”
He had a blossoming career in TV and film
Gaspard had been writing a script called ‘Pinfall’. In 2018, it made Hollywood’s Black List, essentially a list of Hollywood producers’ favourite screenplays that are yet to be made.
Founded in 2005, the Black List has seen more than 400 movies produced, grossing more than $26 billion in box office worldwide. Black List movies have won 53 Academy Awards from 262 nominations, including four of the last 10 Best Picture Oscars and 10 of the last 22 Best Screenplay Oscars.
Several wrestlers have come out and said they hope Gaspard’s script gets made. The premise of Pinfall reads ‘professional wrestlers deal with their personal demons while the new CEO of their organisation struggles to rebuild their business. It’s high stakes in a world where nothing is real, everything hurts and you can trust no one.’
Gaspard has also had roles on-screen. He appeared in Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell’s ‘Get Hard’ and on Key and Peele’s comedy sketch show.
When learning of his death, former WWE superstar-turned actor, The Rock revealed it was tough to hear, but hailed his ‘warrior spirit’.
“This one hurts,” he posted to his 118 million Instagram followers. “Great guy. My deepest condolences and love to Shad Gaspard’s wife, son and family.
“Shad drowned in the ocean, but not before instructing lifeguards to save his 10yr old son first. That’s the love of a father.
“This is a tough one to process. Love and light to Shad’s family.
“And your warrior spirit lives on through your son.”