Darren Drozdov, former WWE and NFL star died Friday of natural causes. He was 54.
“Darren, affectionately known as ‘Droz,’ was involved in a tragic ring accident while wrestling for the WWE in 1999 that rendered him a quadriplegic,” his family told the World Wrestling Entertainment organization Friday in a statement.
His family praised the former athlete for maintaining “a championship mindset” for nearly a quarter century. His loved ones added that Drozdov “lived every day to the fullest” before using his words as a testament.
“There is always another day,” Drozdov admirably proclaimed in the past, according to his family. “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 New Jersey native reportedly had a brief football career with the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos from 1993 to 1995. However, his claim to fame as a player came from vomiting on the field during a “Monday Night Football” match.
Drozdov was christened “Puke” for his so-called talent of vomiting on command.
Determined to reach his potential as an athlete, however, he joined Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1997. It only took a year for Droz to sign with their more famous WWE competitor, however, whose former CEO Vince McMahon once asked to see Droz puke.
On Oct. 5, 1999, however, Drozdov was severely injured in the ring while wrestling D’Lo Brown — and landed on his head. The accident saw Drozdov break two invaluable vertebrae in his neck, consequently paralyzing him for the rest of his life.
Drozdov later admitted that the condition was often overwhelming despite his courage to accept it, and said in 2014 that he was regularly forced to lay flat for long stretches and take dozens of medications daily for muscle spasms and pain.
“For some reason, even as a kid, I always had a strong premonition that I would die young,” he told Fox Sports. “I don’t know why, but I’ve had that feeling for as long as I can remember. I guess, in a way, when the accident occurred, that a large part of me did die.”
Drozdov notably added that cannabis helped rid him of the constant headaches.
“Drozdov captivated audiences in the late 1990s with his time spent in the Legion of Doom teaming with Animal and his Droz’s World vignettes,” the WWE wrote in their statement. “WWE extends its condolences to Darren Drozdov’s family, friends and fans.”
Former colleagues, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, shared their condolences online.
“Man, I’m so sorry to hear one of our ring brothers has passed away,” the ex-wrestler tweeted Friday. “We wrestled on a lot of cards together. Such an awesome dude. Great personality and great wrestling talent. We always talked about football and fishing.”
Johnson continued, “Sending love, strength, mana and light to his family. RIP brother.”
(this story has not been edited by TSA Mag staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)