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Former WWE star Darren Drozdov dies at 54

Drozdov maintained a positive attitude after he became quadriplegic as a result of an in-ring accident 24 years ago, his family said in a statement announcing his death.
/ Source: TODAY

Darren Drozdov, who competed in WWE in the late 1990s as “Droz,” has died at the age of 54, according to the company.

A statement from Drozdov’s family released through WWE said he passed away the morning of June 30 of natural causes.

Former WWE star Darren Drozdov dies at 54
WWE described Drozdov as an "imposing force in the ring."WWE

Drozdov played football at the University of Maryland and spent time in the NFL, including with the Denver Broncos, before joining WWE. His in-ring career was cut short when he suffered a neck fracture during a match on Long Island, New York, in 1999 and became quadriplegic.

In their statement on June 30, Drozdov’s family noted his positive attitude following the accident.

“Droz maintained a championship mindset and lived every day to the fullest even though he was unable to move from the neck down for the past 24 years,” they said. “His own words sum up his relentless positivity in the midst of adversity: ‘There is always another day. Just because I’m paralyzed and stuck in a wheelchair, doesn’t mean my life is over. I’ve learned to live again, and my life is far from over.’”

The statement thanked WWE for its love and support to “make sure that Darren always had the proper care and treatment needed to live in his condition over the past 24 years.”

Former WWE star Darren Drozdov dies at 54
Drozdov became a WWE star following a college football and NFL career.WWE

During his time with WWE, Drozdov had a stint with the legendary tag team the Legion of Doom and was known for his tattoos and body piercings that helped define his “Droz” character.

Drozdov also appeared in a memorable scene in the 1999 professional wrestling documentary “Beyond the Mat,” during which he demonstrated for WWE boss Vince McMahon his ability to vomit on command as they discussed plans for a character named “Puke.”

Following the news of his death, Dwayne Johnson, whose rise to wrestling stardom as “The Rock” coincided with Drozdov’s time in WWE, honored his “ring brother” on Twitter.

“We wrestled on a lot of cards together. Such an awesome dude. Great personality and great wrestling talent,” Johnson wrote. “We always talked about football and fishing. Sending love, strength, mana and light to his family.”