WWE legend Big Van Vader dead at 63

BOY MEETS WORLD - "The Thrilla' in Phila" - Airdate: May 5, 1995.
BOY MEETS WORLD - "The Thrilla' in Phila" - Airdate: May 5, 1995. L-R: BEN SAVAGE;LEON ALLEN WHITE (AKA BIG VAN VADER). ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

WWE legend Big Van Vader, born Leon White, died Monday night at the age of 63.

Vader’s son, Jessie White, announced the news Wednesday on Twitter. “It is with a heavy heart to inform everyone that my father, Leon White, passed away Monday night (6/18/18) at approximately 7:25 p.m.”

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He continued: “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.”

Current and past WWE stars have been expressing their condolences since White’s son broke the news.

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“WWE extends its condolences to White’s family, friends and fans,” a spokesman for WWE wrote in a statement.

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In November 2016, White announced that he was wrestling with congestive heart failure.

He said his heart had worn out from years of wrestling and football: “[I was] told by two heart doctors, at this time, that my heart is worn out from football and wrestling. I have two years to live, congestive heart failure reality.”

In a second tweet, he admitted he was just coming to terms with the prognosis, writing “I am only now allowing this as part of my reality.”

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Vader was known in the ring for his catchphrase, “It’s Vader Time.” His trademark move was called the Vader Bomb and it earned him the reputation as one of the agilest super heavyweights in wrestling history.

According to WWE’s official biography, Vader weighed 450 pounds at the time of his debut. He captured three heavyweight titles during his career. Vader’s wrestling career spanned over 31 years.

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Before venturing into the world of wrestling, Vader played two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and even made it to the Super Bowl. The retired wrestler strung together a legendary grappling career, becoming an icon in North America and Japan, and crossing over to television appearances on Boy Meets World and Baywatch.