Wrestler Shad Gaspard found dead, hailed as hero for saving son

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After an extensive search, the body of missing ex-WWE wrestler Shad Gaspard was found dead on the shores of Venice Beach, California, on Wednesday, May 20.

He was 39.

Lifeguards had told police that Gaspard, who was last seen swimming off Los Angeles' Venice Beach in the weekend, was swept out by a rip current while rescue workers were able to pull his 10-year-old son from the water.

"When last seen by the lifeguard, a wave had crashed over Mr. Shad Gaspard and he was swept out to sea," police said in a statement Monday.

A search by lifeguards and divers for Gaspard proved fruitless and he had been listed as a missing person by the Los Angeles Police Department on Tuesday.

His body was recovered near Venice Pier around 2 am on Wednesday and identified by the coroner's office. (READ: 'Save my son first': Ex-WWE star Shad Gaspard goes missing at sea)

Following confirmed reports, WWE also promptly issued a statement confirming Gaspard’s death.

“WWE is saddened to learn that former WWE Superstar Shad Gaspard has passed away at the age of 39,” the statement read. “WWE extends its condolences to Gaspard’s family, friends and fans.”

Gaspard rose to fame in WWE as a part of the Cryme Tyme tag team with JTG (real name Jayson Paul).

The former celebrity bodyguard was hailed as a hero by many fans and fellow wrestling personalities online after it was reported that he told lifeguards to save his son first before going underwater for the last time.

Shortly after the search for Gaspard was called off, JTG also posted a heartbreaking photo of his last message exchange with Gaspard.

“Admired by friends and colleagues for his warmth and humor, Gaspard was no stranger to heroic deeds,” WWE’s statement read.

“In 2016, he broke up an armed robbery in Coral Springs, Fla., pinning the suspect to the ground until police arrived.”

Gaspard retired from pro wrestling in 2010 and had pursued an entertainment career with roles in television and films.

Gaspard is survived by his 10-year-old son and wife Siliana, whom he married in 2009. – With a report from Agence France-Presse