I never got the pleasure of meeting Shad Gaspard, but I wish I had.

A lot of times in the wrestling media world, and the world in general headlines are formed from the negative -- trash talk, people burying each other, stories of what went wrong. I can't remember that being the case with Shad Gaspard.

Over the years, It was a recurring theme, and almost an inside joke among WWE alumni I interviewed -- do you have a nice guy Shad Gaspard story? Shane Helms had some. Muhammad Hassan did. Even MMA great Josh Barnett did. He went above and beyond to show people that he cared, and to exemplify kindness. As appropriately lauded this week, he wasn't a hero -- he still is a hero.

Gaspard lost his life this week after a riptide pulled him under the water off the coast of California. Gaspard made sure his son was saved before him, a final heroic act from a person taken far too soon. You've probably heard about that act of seflessness endless times over the past week. It certainly didn't just begin there. Years ago, Gaspard disarmed a robber until police arrived. He didn't know it was a BB gun at first, instead caring about saving lives, willing to sacrifice his own if need be. At a WrestleMania 35 watch party, he was seen in tears, embracing MVP as Kofi Kingston became the first black WWE Champion -- putting in perspective to many how important the moment was for fans, and WWE alumni alike.

I would occasionally have people I knew who were on movie or TV sets that knew what I did for a living that would ask if I knew who Shad was. Unfortunately, I had to tell them I didn't know him personally, but had covered his work. Rave reviews of Gaspard's personality followed, as well as his eagerness and willingness to learn. There was no ego to be spoken of.

Shad did everything from bodyguarding to wrestling, to acting, stunt work, and writing comic books. He made incredible impressions on everyone willing to speak about him along the way.

It seemed like 2020 and beyond were going to be kind to Shad and his Cryme Tyme partner JTG. They were being booked for WrestleMania week shows, and it looked like there were several potential landing spots for the two. Sadly, we won't get to see that play out. Fortunately, we will get to see Shad's son's life play out, due to the heroic actions displayed.

Shad Gaspard is, and always will be a hero. He'll always be an example of generosity and care. May he rest in peace. We should all strive to be the person he was.

We send our condolences to the fans, the friends and the family of Shad Gaspard. We will never forget him. If you'd like to support the family, Collar X Elbow has set up a shirt for purchase in which the proceeds go to the family.

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