Former WWE star Darren Drozdov — who was tragically paralyzed after suffering an injury during a match in 1999 — has died … the wrestling org. announced Friday.
He was 54 years old.
“There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now,” Drozdov’s family said in a statement. “We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to everyone. All of his fans, teammates, colleagues, and friends for all the love and support he received over the years.”
“You all gave him meaning, purpose and something to live for,” the Drozdov family continued. “He loved each and every one of you and cherished the conversations, notes and letters he received. His faith in humanity never faltered, so know that for all the love you’ve shown him, he loved you back.”
Drozdov’s family added that he passed away due to natural causes.
Drozdov was initially introduced to the sports world through football … when he played noseguard in the NFL for three seasons.
But, following the end of his playing days, he found his true calling in wrestling … first appearing in the ECW — before debuting with the WWE in 1998.
Drozdov initially competed under the pseudonym “Puke” — a nickname he had previously been given for his affinity for throwing up during football games — but, he later wrestled as “Droz” … gaining fame for the way he teamed up with the Road Warriors.
Sadly, in Oct. 1999 — just as his wrestling career looked poised to take off — he broke his neck in a match with D’Lo Brown … and was paralyzed from the neck down.
He eventually gained movement in his arms and upper body — but he would still require a wheelchair to get around for the rest of his life. He did, though, remain steadfast that Brown was not to blame for the incident — and the two stayed friends over the years.
Following Drozdov’s passing Friday … Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson penned an emotional tribute to the wrestler, writing on his social media page, “We wrestled on a lot of cards together. Such an awesome dude.”
“Great personality and great wrestling talent,” he added. “We always talked about football and fishing. Sending love, strength, mana and light to his family. RIP brother.”
Rest in peace.
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