WWE issued the following statement after news of Leon White (Vader) passing away went public earlier this morning via tweets from his son.
WWE is saddened to learn that Leon White, better known to WWE audiences as Vader, passed away Monday night at the age of 63.
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 industry reacts to passing on Wednesday
Here are some tweets from those in the wrestling industry reacting to Vader’s passing.
I’m saddened to hear about the passing of Leon “Baby Bull” White aka “Big” Van Vader! My prayers of strength go out to his family at this time, I’m sorry for your loss. #RIPVADER
— Brian G. James (@WWERoadDogg) June 20, 2018
When I was a kid I was legit scared of Vader
Thanks for making me believe #RIPVader
— James Ellsworth (@realellsworth) June 20, 2018
The only reason I started saying “It’s Tap Out Time” recently is because my friends and I were big Vader fans when we were kids #RIPVader 🙏
— 🇺🇸TJ Perkins🇵🇭 (@MegaTJP) June 20, 2018
R.I.P Vader.. One of the Baddest Big Men in… https://t.co/8MNUyBbOEf
— Heath Slater (@HeathSlaterOMRB) June 20, 2018
— Samoa Joe (@SamoaJoe) June 20, 2018
— Scott Dawson (@ScottDawsonWWE) June 20, 2018
— Booker T. Huffman (@BookerT5x) June 20, 2018
"I fear no man and I feel no pain!"
— Nick Aldis (@RealNickAldis) June 20, 2018