Dwayne Johnson and Other WWE Stars Mourn the Loss of Shad Gaspard: 'Your Warrior Spirit Lives On'
Shad Gaspard's body was found Wednesday, three days after he went missing while swimming at Venice Beach
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and several other WWE stars are mourning the loss of Shad Gaspard, whose body was found Wednesday three days after he went missing over the weekend while at Venice Beach with his son.
"This one hurts," Johnson, 48, wrote on Instagram Wednesday, sharing a photo with Gaspard, 39. "Great guy."
"My deepest condolences and love to Shad Gaspard’s wife, son and family," the WWE star-turned-actor continued, praising Gaspard for telling lifeguards at the beach to save his son from the rough waves before himself, which a witness at the scene previously recalled to TMZ.
"Shad drowned in the ocean, but not before instructing lifeguards to save his 10yr old son first," Johnson wrote. "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."
On Twitter, several more athletes shared similar sentiments.
"I join fans around the world as we remember Shad Gaspard as a beloved performer and a caring father," wrote wrestling champion Triple H. "In absolutely tragic circumstances, please keep his loved ones in your thoughts."
Shane McMahon wrote on Twitter, "Saddened to hear the news of the passing of the 'The Beast' Shad Gaspard. A hero even to the end, my thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. A great man in this world, you will be sorely missed. Rest In Peace, my friend."
"Shad Gaspard proved numerous times outside of the ring to be one of the most selfless guys you could possibly know, up until his last action of making sure his child was saved," wrote Sean Ross Sapp. "Rest in peace."
"My Love, Thoughts, Prayers and Support Go out to The Family of Shad Gaspard. Nothing will ever Fix the loss of a loved one," added footballer-turned-wrestler Titus O'Neil. "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."
Former WWE star Matt Morgan remembered Gaspard as a "brother."
"Never did the meaning 'brother' mean more to me than it did with #ShadGaspard," Morgan wrote on Twitter. "I’ll never forget the day Shad posted these pics of us early 20 something-year-olds, & illustrating our pathway through life’s accomplishments & into fatherhood side by side 4 20 years!I love u brother."
Total Divas star Natalie Neidhart tweeted that "the world has lost a wonderful human being."
"Shad Gaspard was a true HERO in every sense of the word," she added. "I’m keeping his family and loved ones in my prayers right now. We love you, Shad."
Kenny King shared a lengthy tribute on Twitter to Gaspard, calling him "a beast" and remembering him as a mentor figure.
"A beast of a man, a beast of a friend, and a beast of a husband and father," King wrote. "He loved the wrestling business and even though he could still go with the best of them in the ring, he was starting to embrace and love his role as a mentor to young talent."
"He fathered his son selflessly, and in the end made the ultimate sacrifice for him," King continued later in the tribute. "I'm proud of how he lived, and I guess I'm even prouder of how he died. I will miss your long drawn out explanations to your more eccentric outlooks on life my friend. Rest easy Beast."
The WWE released a statement on Wednesday addressing Gaspard's death.
"Admired by friends and colleagues for his warmth and humor, Gaspard was no stranger to heroic deeds," the statement read. "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," the statement said. "WWE extends its condolences to Gaspard’s family, friends and fans."
Gaspard first went missing on Sunday, PEOPLE previously reported, after he and his son were swept away from shore in a strong ocean current while swimming at Venice Beach. Los Angeles County lifeguards and the U.S. Coast Guard conducted an underwater search for the wrestler, who was found on Wednesday along the shoreline near the Venice pier.