Former WWE Superstar Shad Gaspard tragically passed away at the age of 39 back on May 17. The former tag team wrestler was swimming with his 10-year-old son at Venice Beach when a riptide pulled them both out into open water. A rescue team quickly scrambled to save them, and the team managed to save Gaspard's son first at his insistence. Unfortunately by the time they went back to retrieve Gaspard he had submerged. Wrestlers and fans around the world mourned Gaspard's passing and a GoFundMe campaign was launched to assist Gaspard's widow.
JTG, Gaspard's tag partner both during and after their respective WWE runs, recently spoke with Chris Van Vliet and the topic of Gaspard receiving the Warrior Award posthumously was brought up.
"He definitely should," JTG said. "I don't know what's a bigger heroic act than putting his life on the line for his son. But honestly, he would have done it if it was another child. If it was me, he probably would have did the same exact thing."
Introduced in 2015, the Warrior Award is given once a year to those who have "exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance, and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of the Ultimate Warrior." The award is presented every year at the WWE Hall of Fame, and previous recipients included Connor "The Crusher" Michalek, Joan Lunden, Eric LeGrand and Jarrius Roberston.
JTG took part in a memorial for Gaspard after his body was recovered.
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Gaspard's widow, Siliana, released a statement shortly after the news broke.
Shad was our whole world and we were his. There are not enough words to describe what he means to all of us. He was our heart, our soul, our protector, our warrior. He was a brought force of nature, who brought joy to many through his joyous and gracious nature. The outpouring of love from Shad's friends, colleagues and fans has meant more to us than you can even imagine. We'd like to once again thank the lifeguards, coast guard, divers, fire and police departments for their efforts.
The statement concluded — "Shad was and will always be our real-life superhero."
As of now WWE has not confirmed who will be the next recipient of the Warrior Award. The 2020 WWE Hall of Fame Induction ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19 and has yet to be rescheduled.