Leon Allen White – “Big Van Vader” – died at the age of 63 on Monday, June 18th, after two years of fighting against congestive heart failure. Vader’s son, Jessie White, took to his father’s Twitter account on Wednesday, June 20th, to announce the news of his passing.
White said that “around a month ago,” his dad had to go to the hospital due to a “severe case of pneumonia.” He fought very hard and was slowly making progress, but unfortunately, his heart had enough and he died.
Before Vader was a professional wrestler, he had a brief career playing football, like many other WWE stars including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Los Angeles Rams drafted him as a center in 1978.
His second season in football was against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIV. After he suffered a ruptured patella, Vader had to say goodbye forever to his career as a football player.
Vader started wrestling in 1985 in the American Wrestling Association, and he went on to join the New Japan Pro-Wrestling federation two years later before coming back to the United States to join the World Championship Wrestling Association in 1990.
Vader was a three-time WCW World Heavyweight champion. Following the WCW’s merger with its parent company, he went on to make his debut in the WWE in 1996.
Vader fought with Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker during the height of his career, and he continued to compete in the sport in the years that followed.
Later in life, Vader ventured into the art of television, including in a TV guest role in Boy Meets World.
However, Vader knew his day of reckoning was coming, as doctors warned him a few years prior. In November 2016, Vader said that medical professionals had given him two years to live because his heart was worn out from playing football and wrestling.