It is being reported by WWE.com and was first noted by Jesse White, the son of Leon “Big Van Vader” White, that Vader had passed away on Monday evening at 7:25pm. He was 63 years old.
In a touching statement about his death, WWE.com wrote:
White began his sports-entertainment career in the mid-1980s after retiring from the NFL due to injury. He rose to national prominence in Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association before joining New Japan Pro Wrestling as the masked Big Van Vader. He went on to become one of the promotion’s biggest stars and most feared competitors. Vader then transitioned to World Championship Wrestling, where he would make the biggest mark of his career. He engaged in memorable rivalries with the likes of Sting and Ron Simmons, becoming a dominant, three-time WCW World Champion in the process. In 1996, Vader joined the WWE roster, where he squared off against Superstars such as Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. He also found success on the small screen with a recurring guest role on the popular 1990s television program, “Boy Meets World.”
WWE extends its condolences to White’s family, friends and fans.
Wrestling legend, Vader has sadly passed away. Rest In Power Sir. pic.twitter.com/Skk082DtDG
— PWM (@ProWrestlingMag) June 20, 2018
White had been battling heart issues and in November of 2016 revealed he’d been diagnosed with congestive heart failure due to his football and wrestling careers. At that time, he was given only a couple years to live. Vader had undergone multiple surgeries but was diagnosed with a severe case of pneumonia last month. Jesse wrote that his father “fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time.”
A football player before he was a wrestler, White was an All-American center at Colorado and was selected in the third round of the 1978 NFL draft. His NFL career with the Rams was cut short due to knee issues but he did make an appearance in the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Vader then became a huge influence and one of the biggest stars in WCW as a monster heel, and while his time in WWE wasn’t nearly as successful and earlier runs in his career, he did have some memorable moments with feuds against some of the companies biggest stars.
Fansideseats sends its condolences to the White family.