One of wrestling's greatest big men, Vader, real name Leon White, passed away Monday evening. The former WWE and WCW legend was 63.
His son shared the somber news on Vader's twitter account.
"It is with a heavy heart to inform everyone that my father, Leon White, passed away on Monday night (6/18/18) at approximately 7:25pm."
It is with a heavy heart to inform everyone that my father, Leon White, passed away on Monday night (6/18/18) at approximately 7:25pm. pic.twitter.com/dP4CNaMuXa— Big Van Vader (@itsvadertime) June 20, 2018
"Around a month ago my father was diagnosed with a severe case of Pneumonia. He fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time."
Around a month ago my father was diagnosed with a severe case of Pneumonia. He fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time. pic.twitter.com/hJYjumvxjH— Big Van Vader (@itsvadertime) June 20, 2018
Vader dealt with serious health complication for most of 2018, most notably an open heart surgery in March. The extensive operation kept Vader in an out of the hospital, but the 3-time World Champion routinely shared positive updates on Twitter. He did have another procedure in May to address an irregular heart rhythm but Tuesday was the first news of his severe Pneumonia.
Despite his advanced age and declining health, Vader was a relatively active wrestler in recent years. His last appearance in WWE came in 2012 when he defeated Heath Slater during an episode of RAW.
Vader's career spanned nearly three decades, beginning in 1985 after spending two years with the Los Angeles Rams_actually competing in Super Bowl XIV against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After football, Vader embarked on one of wrestling more remarkable careers as he was one of the first big men to flash undeniable athleticism. Aside form his multiple championships in Japan and WCW, as well as his run in WWE as a top heel in the mid 90's, Vader's calling card may the first 300 lbs wrestlers to incorporate a moonsault into his matches.
WWE released the following statement regarding Vader's passing:
"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.