WWE star Shad Gaspard dead at 39; body found on California beach days after he went missing

In this image, Professional wrestler/actor Shad Gaspard attends the 11th annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards at Palms Casino Resort on July 3, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The WWE star is dead at 39. Gaspard's body was found on Venice beach days after he went missing. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images/TNS)
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By Peter Sblendorio New York Daily News (TNS)

The body of former WWE star Shad Gaspard was found on a California beach Wednesday morning, days after he went missing in the water, police confirmed.

Gaspard was 39.

His body was found at Venice Beach in Los Angeles after washing onto the shore; a citizen notified patrol officers shortly before 1:30 a.m., the Los Angeles Police Department said.

“The decedent was identified as Shad Gaspard,” police said in a statement.

Officials had launched a search for Gaspard on Sunday after he went missing while out for a swim with his son, Aryeh, at Venice Beach amid strong riptide currents.

In an update Wednesday, the Los Angeles Fire Department, Lifeguard Division tweeted that officials from multiple departments arrived at the scene shortly after 2 a.m. local time in response to “a report of a body along the shoreline that matches the description of Sunday’s missing swimmer.”

Gaspard went missing following an ocean rescue attempt by lifeguards at about 3:40 p.m. Sunday, a source with the LAFD, Lifeguard Division confirmed Monday to the New York Daily News. Amid the rescue attempt, one of the two victims “did submerge,” the source said.

Lifeguards rescued a 10-year-old victim, the source said, while Gaspard’s wife, Siliana Gaspard, identified her husband as the missing swimmer on social media.

The source said Gaspard urged rescue officials to rescue his son first.

“The primary factor yesterday was the hazardous surf, with waves at 4 to 6 feet,” the lifeguard division source told the News Monday. “We had strong lateral and strong rip currents through the entire Venice area. Our lifeguards were making hundreds of rescues.”

The Brooklyn-born Gaspard began his stint with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2006. His contract ended in 2010, and he later appeared in numerous TV and film roles, including in the movies “Get Hard” and “Think Like a Man Too.”

WWE on Wednesday offered “its condolences to Gaspard’s family, friends and fans.”

In a tweet shortly before his body was found, WWE icon Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson called Gaspard a “great guy.”

“My prayers and hope for Shad Gaspard’s wife, son and family during this unthinkable time,” Johnson wrote. “Man, this is a tough one. A really tough one.”

On Wednesday, longtime WWE star Natalya Neidhart remembered Gaspard as a hero.

“The world has lost a wonderful human being,” she tweeted Wednesday. “Shad Gaspard was a true HERO in every sense of the word. I’m keeping his family and loved ones in my prayers right now. We love you, Shad.”

Before his professional wrestling career, the 6-foot-6 Gaspard worked as a body guard for celebrities including Britney Spears, Mike Tyson and Diddy, and played basketball at Georgia Perimeter College in Decatur, Ga.

Before his body was found, Gaspard’s wife posted about his disappearance multiple times on Instagram.

“Shad is a fighter, a warrior and a magical soul,” she wrote Tuesday. “We are hoping and praying for his safe return.”

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