Shad Gaspard 1981-2020: A tribute to a hero

Shad Gaspard with The Rock [Image - Twitter/Shad Gaspard]
Shad Gaspard with The Rock [Image - Twitter/Shad Gaspard]
Matty Paddock
Modified 23 May 2020

Shad Gaspard's family are, right now, feeling emotions that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

There was an enormous outpouring of sadness on social media when authorities confirmed Shad Gaspard's body had been found on Wednesday, washed up from the waters of Venice Beach days after he was last seen.

And yet, I can't help but feel that, rather than being this simply being the news that his family and everyone else truly dreaded and didn't want, the announcement will have also carried with it a sense of relief.

Gaspard, 39, was one of a group of swimmers who reportedly got into difficulties on Sunday. While most managed to miraculously escape the worsening conditions, the former WWE star was nowhere to be seen after apparently being swept away by a strong rip current.

Understandably, his family was among those searching for him with a freneticism I can't even begin to imagine or comprehend. The idea you might lose your nearest and dearest without even so much as the scant consolation of absolute confirmation is unthinkable. The fact that the family now, at least, have that measure of closure is something, even if it won't go close to touching the pain they're feeling.

Shad Gaspard: Former WWE star passes away after being swept away at sea

My knowledge of the life and career of Shad Gaspard is, like millions around the world, very limited. I've been a lifelong fan of WWE, so the news that he'd been lost at sea on Sunday immediately struck a chord. I enjoyed his Cryme Tyme performances, and have some fond memories of some of the stuff he and his tag team partner JTG did backstage and in their promos.

Arguably one of the funniest things I've ever seen was Cryme Tyme's cameo with Vince McMahon and William Regal some years ago, as McMahon was searching for his long lost storyline son. I enjoyed a laugh over it on Tuesday night when hope was still there, albeit fading, that he might be found.

Shad Gaspard wrestled with WWE for the better part of eight years, on and off, but it now won't be only his solid wrestling career that he'll be remembered for.

Indeed, he died a hero - and not just for the events of Sunday, which I'll touch on again shortly. Signs that Gaspard was a man made of greater things than the sum of a wrestling career were already well apparent to his friends and family.

They came further to the fore in 2016, however, when it emerge

ed that he stepped in to help prevent a serious robbery attempt in Florida. Shad said at the time he had been confronted at gunpoint before taking matters into his own hands, physically disarming the would-be suspect and putting him firmly in his place.

Since Sunday's tragic news, further glimpses and fleeting moments into the life of a great man have begun to surface. Despite them all, however, no act Shad Gaspard ever committed will compare to his very last one.

According to reports, despite being in obvious peril and fearing for his own safety, his parental instinct kicked in. Gaspard had been swimming with his young son at the time and, with rescuers approaching to try and aid those stricken, he is said to have immediately gestured to the location of his 10-year-old son Aryeh. He was taken to safety.

While young Aryeh will be experiencing unimaginable pain right now, and a range of emotions far beyond comprehension, the fact he will go on to live his life is a testament to the actions of his father. Undoubtedly, Gaspard won't have made a conscious choice to save his son's life over his own, it will have been far, far more instinctive than that.

His final act, triggered deep in his subconscious, will now, lovingly and heroically, be how he is remembered. As a new father myself, I can only hope to leave such a lasting legacy for my child.

In his WWE days, Gaspard would boast, in character, that he and JTG were "all about that money...", yet even a cursory glance at the man himself shows he was, in reality, anything but.

View this post on Instagram

Love the life I built for my self and my family.

A post shared by Shad Gaspard (@shadbeast13) on

"I love the life I built for myself and my family" he posted on Instagram just over a week ago, with a photo of his son.

It's a life he built that will go on to stand tall. What more can a father ask for?

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Published 21 May 2020
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