For the last two years, there have been a number of moments when the world of professional wrestling thought it was going to lose one of the all-time greats but his life was extended. Big Van Vader (real name Leon White) has been dealing with a number of heart-related conditions and other illnesses for a while now, but it all finally caught up to him. After his passing, the wrestling community took to social media to pay honor and respect to the man they call “Vader.”
Big Van Vader was just 63-years-old.
As reported by Pro Wrestling Sheet, Vader wrestled in both WWE and WCW, but he was known all around the world. He was also greatly respected by promoters, wrestlers, announcers, ring crews, fans, and virtually every single person who is associated with the world of professional wrestling.
In a very classy move, the official website of WWE paid tribute to the man known as Big Van Vader and let everyone know that it will always be “Vader Time.” From there, tributes started pouring in from all promotions and just about anyone who knew Vader or knew of him.
If only he had lived long enough to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. That may still happen for the big man, but for now, he has the tributes of so many and the respect shown to him on Wednesday afternoon is enough to bring anyone to tears.
WWE is saddened to learn that Leon White, better known to WWE audiences as Vader, passed away Monday night at the age of 63. https://t.co/UNIbdS680I— WWE (@WWE) June 20, 2018
We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Vader. Our thoughts are with his family today. pic.twitter.com/7olr0V4NNR— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) June 20, 2018
We send our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Leon White (aka BIG VAN VADER) who passed away last night.— NWA (@nwa) June 20, 2018
I’m saddened to hear about the passing of Leon “Baby Bull” White aka “Big” Van Vader! My prayers of strength go out to his family at this time, I’m sorry for your loss. #RIPVADER— Brian G. James (@WWERoadDogg) June 20, 2018
Maaaaan...Vader was my guy as a child and was a sweetheart when he came down to FCW to help train us. I’m forever grateful for the conversations I was able to share with him. Condolences to Leon’s son, Jesse, and the rest of his family.— Florida Man (@WWEBigE) June 20, 2018
GOD BLESS VADER FOREVER— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) June 20, 2018
So sad to hear of the passing of Leon White, Vader. Leon was so far ahead of his time. R.I.P. Leon— Bruce Prichard (@bruceprichard) June 20, 2018
Vader’s last @WWE PPV was a match with me, he wanted me to kick out of his finish/he told me “today you get the old Vader, I want it to mean something when you win.” RIP big man, and thanks! #respect pic.twitter.com/t3FiP2jMmh— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) June 20, 2018
Thoughts & prayers go out to the family & friends of Leon White after his passing. @itsvadertime made an ENORMOUS impact on our industry. Godspeed, Big Van Vader.— #WOKEN Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) June 20, 2018
My prayers and thoughts go out to the family Of truly one of the greatest big men to step foot in the ring. Vader my friend May you R.I.P— D-von Dudley (@TestifyDVon) June 20, 2018
Inquisitr reported back in November of 2016 that Big Van Vader revealed he had less than two years to live due to problems with his heart. Despite knowing that, Vader continued to travel the world and wrestle as he wasn’t yet ready to hang up his boots.
While he never won a title of any kind in WWF/WWE, Big Van Vader still had a huge presence in the world of professional wrestling. Here are just a few of his many accomplishments:
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship – three times
- Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship – two times
- WCW World Heavyweight Championship – three times
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated “Wrestler of the Year” – 1993
In April of last year, Vader wrestled at an event in Japan where fans saw him collapse and pass out in the middle of the ring after the match. Word began to spread on social media that it was due to his health and his heart issues, but he confirmed that it was due to being dropped on his head during the match.
Vader made sure everyone knew that it had nothing to do with his heart, but things were not getting any better for him. Heart problems were eventually going to get the better of Big Van Vader as he even referred to himself as a “walking time bomb” earlier this year.
The man they call Vader accepted that he had health issues, but he wasn’t going to let them hold him back. The tributes being paid to him show that everyone knew just how tough he was throughout his life and to the very end.
"I fear no man and I feel no pain!"— Nick Aldis (@RealNickAldis) June 20, 2018
Vader terrified me as a kid and later fired me up as a rebellious teenager. I was such a pure fan of him. RIP big man. #VaderTime #RIPVader pic.twitter.com/Qm5OWcckRB
Now, the world of professional wrestling has lost a multi-time former world champion, a legend, and one of the most talented big men to ever set foot inside of a ring. He was a monster heel that could fly through the air despite his massive size and superstars looked up to Big Van Vader for almost four decades. It is obvious that he will never be forgotten and these tributes show that the respect for him will never fade.