Former WWE Superstar Shad Gaspard was declared dead on Wednesday after his body was recovered three days after disappearing off the coast of Venice Beach. Since then dozens of wrestlers from both in and out of WWE have offered their condolences online, recalling his loyal friendship and trumpeting him as a hero for making sure his 10-year-old son was saved when the pair were pulled out into open waters via a riptide. One of the most touching tributes came from Roman Reigns, who had a surprising amount of history with Gaspard despite the two never being on the main roster at the same time.
"'Save my son.'" Incredible man and father. My love and prayers go out to the Gaspard family," Reigns wrote. "Rest in love Shad."
My very first match on FCW TV. Shad was unhappy during these times, but he was still kind to me and took good care of me. We rode to a couple towns together and he shared stories of his road experiences and his friendship with my cousin Umaga/Eki. Now they rest together. 🙏🏽 https://t.co/Sv7FNDeIUv— Roman Reigns (@WWERomanReigns) May 20, 2020
By "save my son," Reigns was referring to what Gaspard told the rescue team when they first reached him. They explained what happened in an interview with ESPN on Tuesday.
"WWE is saddened to learn that former WWE Superstar Shad Gaspard has passed away at the age of 39," WWE's statement on Gaspard's death read. "... Admired by friends and colleagues for his warmth and humor, 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."
Reigns' cousin Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson also commented on the tragedy.
View this post on Instagram
This one hurts. Great guy. My deepest condolences and love to Shad Gaspard’s wife, son and family. Shad drowned in the ocean, but not before instructing lifeguards to save his 10yr old son first. That’s the love of a father. This is a tough one to process. Love and light to Shad’s family. And your warrior spirit lives on through your son.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.