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.

Gaspard was best known in WWE as one-half of Cryme Tyme with JTG. The fan-favourite 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.

Admired by friends and colleagues for his warmth and humour, Gaspard was no stranger to heroic deeds. In 2016, he broke up an armed robbery in Coral Springs, Fla., pinning the suspect to the ground until police arrived.

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.

French Britanny’s sailors are used to saying the sea is an egoist, it never gives back the bodies it takes to their families. After 2 days of search, the sea was kind enough to give Shad Gaspard’s body back to his family. Earlier this morning, in the USA, an unidentified body was found in the sand on Venice Beach, near where Gaspard went missing on Sunday while swimming with his 10-year-old son. The discovery was made about halfway between the Venice Beach pier and the lifeguard headquarters by two people walking on the beach at around 1:30 am PST, according to a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson.

Yesterday, his wife Siliana thanked the first responders for rescuing her 10-year-old son Aryeh on Sunday and thanked the other officials for searching for Shad since then. “We would like to express our gratitude to the first responders who rescued Aryeh and to the lifeguards, coast guard, divers, fire and police departments for their continued efforts to help find our beloved Shad,” Siliana wrote. “Shad is a fighter, a warrior and a magical soul. We are hoping and praying for his safe return. As a family, we thank you all for your concern and well wishes. Please continue to keep sending your positivity and prayers to our beloved Shad. – From The Entire Gaspard & Chittick Family.”

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Gaspard was of Haitian and Curaçaoan descent. At age 5, his father began training him in boxing, and at age 8, he began training in a mixture of different martial arts such as Judo, Jeet Kune Do, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai. As a student, Gaspard quickly developed into an aggressive fighter, winning many fight tournaments as an amateur. His mother, Ingrid Chittick, gave him the nickname “Beast” as a result of his aggressiveness.

At age 16, Gaspard began prizefighting for promoter Hardbody Harrison, a former World Championship Wrestling wrestler and FX Tough Man Champion, in bar fighting tournaments such as boxing, kickboxing, mixed martial arts (MMA), and tough man competitions. Even though Gaspard was only sixteen years old, he competed against adults who were older than he was by 5 to 20 years, due to his large size.

Gaspard was extensively involved in athletics during his high school years, specializing in wrestling, track, and basketball. After high school, he continued to play basketball at Georgia Perimeter College, and after leaving, he became a bodyguard for several rappers and actors, including pop star Britney Spears, Puff Daddy, and Mike Tyson.

Gaspard then decided to become a professional wrestler. He qualified for the finals of the reality television program WWE Tough Enough 2 in 2002 but was disqualified and replaced after failing a physical. After Tough Enough, Gaspard was recruited by WWF talent scout Tom Prichard and allowed to attempt a career as a professional wrestler. He first trained with Sgt. Dewayne Bruce from the WCW Power Plant for six months. Afterwards, he attended Prichard’s first Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) “training camp”, after which he was offered an opportunity to return to train full-time.

Gaspard debuted in OVW in 2003 under the ring name “Da Beast”, eventually joining Kenny Bolin’s Bolin Services stable. Originally, he acted as Bolin’s personal enforcer, until he was placed into a tag team with Carlos Colón, Jr. in February 2004. After Colón left OVW in October 2004, Gaspard left “Bolin Services” and formed several short-lived tag teams with Osama, Mike Mondo, Ken Doane, and Ryan Wilson, before he began wrestling under his real name as a singles wrestler. In June 2005, he was signed to a developmental contract by World Wrestling Entertainment.

In early 2006, during his feud in OVW with CM Punk, Gaspard was joined by the Neighborhoodie and formed a new tag team known as “The Gang Stars”.] The new team won the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship once, before they were called up to the RAW roster as Cryme Tyme. On September 4, 2006, a series of vignettes began airing on RAW, hyping the debut of Cryme Tyme. On the October 16 episode of Raw, Cryme Tyme debuted and defeated then-World Tag Team Champions, the Spirit Squad (Mikey and Johnny) in a non-title match.

In November 2006, at Cyber Sunday, Cryme Tyme defeated Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, Charlie Haas and Viscera and The Highlanders in a Texas Tornado match, as voted by the fans. They would later feud with The Highlanders, The World’s Greatest Tag Team, Cade and Murdoch, and Jim Duggan and Super Crazy, Deuce ‘n Domino. In the middle of the feud with Cade and Murdoch, on September 2, 2007, Gaspard (along with JTG) was released from his World Wrestling Entertainment contract. After his release, he performed on the independent circuit.

Shad and JTG returned to WWE on the March 31, 2008, episode of Raw, as Cryme Tyme defeating Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. Cryme Tyme began working with John Cena on the June 30 episode of RAW when they helped him interfere during John “Bradshaw” Layfield’s (JBL) match. After a house show match, Cena confirmed that they had created a faction and announced that it was called CTC, “Cryme Tyme Cenation”. Cryme Tyme also started a feud with the World Tag Team Champions Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes, stealing their championship belts for a time, then losing a title match to them at the Unforgiven pay-per-view event.

On April 15, 2009, Cryme Tyme were drafted to the SmackDown brand. The pair made their in-ring debuts on the May 22 episode of SmackDown, where they and John Morrison defeated Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas and Ricky Ortiz. On the July 31 episode of SmackDown, Cryme Tyme defeated The Hart Dynasty to become the No. 1 contenders for the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship. However, the pair lost in their challenge against Jeri-Show (Chris Jericho and Big Show) at SummerSlam. The team would disband in 2010 and both started a run on their own. Soon after, Shad went on a hiatus from television and was sent to Florida Championship Wrestling, WWE’s developmental territory. Gaspard made his final television appearance on the May 14 episode of SmackDown where he defeated Jesse Guyver. He was released from his contract on November 19, 2010.

Since departing WWE in 2010, Gaspard had pursued an acting career that included several roles in films and television series like Think Like a Man Too, Get Hard, The Game, and From Dusk till Dawn: The Series. He was also the co-creator of the graphic novel Assassin & Son. He had never stopped wrestling and was still teaming with JTG until his tragic death.

Even if he had never worn a WWE belt or been one of the company’s main-eventers, Shad Gaspard will be remembered for the great man he was in and out of the ring. A true competitor in the ring, a rightful human being in life. No one could forget he gave his life to save his son’s. That says a lot about who Gaspard was.

All pics and videos courtesy of WWE