The body of former World Wrestling Entertainment pro Shad Gaspard was found early Wednesday on Los Angeles’ Venice Beach, where he was caught in a rip current last weekend, police said.
Patrol officers were flagged down around 1:25am by a person reporting that a body had washed ashore, a Police Department statement said.
“The decedent was identified as Shad Gaspard and next of kin was notified,” it said.
Gaspard went missing last Sunday after he went swimming with his 10-year-old son, Aryeh.
Lifeguards came out to help after seeing they were struggling and according to reports, Gaspard told them to leave him and save Aryeh.
It turned out to be a heroic final act.
The boy was rescued unharmed and several other swimmers made it out of the water safely, but when the lifeguards turned back, a wave swept Gaspard further out to sea.
Gaspard, 39, was about 46 metres from shore when he was last spotted by a lifeguard, police said.
Gaspard’s Cryme Tyme co-star, Jason Anthony Paul (JTG) shared a screenshot of a text the wrestler sent him months before he vanished.
Tributes have poured in for Gaspard. WWE legend Triple H wrote on Twitter: “I join fans around the world as we remember Shad Gaspard as a beloved performer and a caring father. In absolutely tragic circumstances, please keep his loved ones in your thoughts.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson added: “My prayers and hope for Shad Gaspard’s wife, son and family during this unthinkable time. Man, this is a tough one. A really tough one. Great guy.”
Former tag-team partner Titus O’Neill wrote: “My Love, Thoughts, Prayers and Support Go out to The Family of Shad Gaspard.
“Nothing will ever Fix the loss of a loved one. As a Universe We owe it to ourselves and to others to Be a Positive Light in this world as long as we can Because Nothing is Ever Guaranteed. #RIPSHAD.”
Wrestler Sasha Banks added: “Sending my love and prayers to Shad loved ones during this time. #RIPShadGaspard.”
Canadian WWE star Natalya wrote: “The world has lost a wonderful human being. 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.”
Wrestling podcaster John Pollock offered a moving tribute: “Shad Gaspard left this world a hero – in every sense of the word.
“Above anything else he did during his time here, he is going to be remembered for his actions as a father, and that is an incredible legacy to leave behind.”
Gaspard’s wife, Siliana Gaspard, issued a statement on Tuesday before he had been found thanking authorities and fans.
“We would like to express our gratitude to the first responders who rescued Aryeh and to the lifeguards, coast guard, divers, fire and police departments for their continued efforts to help find our beloved Shad,” the statement said.
The statement had held out hope: “Shad is a fighter, a warrior and a magical soul. We are hoping and praying for his safe return. As a family we thank you all for your concern and well wishes. Please continue to keep sending your positivity and prayers to our beloved Shad.”
Gaspard gained prominence in the WWE as one half of the tag-team group Cryme Time, along with his partner, JTG.
After retiring from the WWE in 2010, Gaspard has had small roles on TV and in movies, including the 2015 Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard.