Life is short. That statement is one of the most over used cliches in history. However, nothing could ever be more true.
Not one person on this planet knows when their time will come to an end. All we can do is live life to the fullest, every single day — yes, another overused cliche.
Even though every person has probably heard those one-liners a hundred times, occasionally we receive a gentle and heart-felt reminder of the truthfulness of those statements.
Today was one of those days for me. I am obviously a sports fan or I wouldn’t be working as a sports editor. And in my childhood, like so many other kids, I had several role models. I remember playing in my backyard, imitating Troy Aikman or Hulk Hogan — I have always been a huge pro-wrestling fan — and of course, the Ultimate Warrior.
I know many people don’t consider professional wrestling an actual sport but for the purpose of this article, I am going to completely disregard that debate.
Unfortunately, one of my idols passed away suddenly Tuesday as the Ultimate Warrior collapsed in Arizona and was pronounced dead shortly after. The cause of death has not been determined.
Warrior who was born as James Hellwig, but legally changed his name to Warrior, was inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame on Saturday evening.
On Sunday, Warrior appeared at Wrestlemania, which is WWE’s premiere annual event, to celebrate his hall of fame induction.
His last public appearance came Monday as Warrior cut a promo on WWE’s “Raw.” During his address to the fans, Warrior talked about leaving a lasting legacy.
“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own,” Warrior said. “Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them bleed deeper in something that’s larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him, and make the running the man did live forever.”
Warrior’s legacy cannot be debated as he burst on to scene in the mid 80s with his trademark face paint, his exuberant energy and the way he violently shook the ropes to electrify a live audience.
The former WWE champion had one of the most memorable matches in WWE history at Wrestlemania VI. Warrior went toe-to-toe with the Immortal Hulk Hogan. Those two men, that single match, left a lasting impression on many wrestling fans; myself included. Warrior changed the dynamics of wrestling with that single moment as he pinned Hogan to reign supreme as the world champion.
I’m grateful for having the opportunity to grow up watching wrestling legends like Warrior, Hogan, Bret “the hitman” Hart, and many more. While his death is tragic and sudden, his life and career will be forever celebrated.
Warrior is survived by his wife Dana and his two children. My thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family during this traumatic time. And to the Ultimate Warrior, thank you for so many wonderful memories.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or on Twitter @crslone.