Former professional wrestler Droz, whose real name was Darren Drozdov, died at the age of 54 of natural causes, his family said.
Droz was a superstar in WWE (formerly the World Wrestling Federation) and debuted with the promotion in 1998.
His career was short-lived, however, due to an in-ring accident the following year that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
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On October 5, 1999, at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, Droz was in a match with D’Lo Brown on «WWF SmackDown!» when he landed on his head and fractured two vertebrae in his neck.
Droz was wearing a baggy singlet during the match, so when Brown attempted his trademark powerbomb, he was unable to properly grab the wrestler; therefore, Droz was unable to execute a proper jump towards the powerbomb, which helped in the incident.
Despite hours of surgery, he remained a quadriplegic. Both Droz and Brown have said it was a total accident. The incident occurred on a pre-recorded show, so it was taken off the air two days later and never shown to the public.
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«There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we feel at this time…» The Droz family said in a statement. Droz maintained a champion mentality and lived every day to the fullest even though he couldn’t move from the neck down for the past 24 years. His own words sum up his relentless positivity in the midst of adversity: «There’s always another day.» . Just because he’s paralyzed and stuck in a wheelchair doesn’t mean my life is over. I have learned to live again and my life is far from over.'»
«Man so sorry to hear one of our ring brothers has passed away. Darren Drozdov aka Droz. We wrestled many cards together,» Dwayne «The Rock» Johnson tweeted. «What an amazing guy. Great personality and great wrestling talent. We were always talking about soccer and fishing. Sending love, strength, manna and light to his family. RIP his brother.»
Droz’s family also thanked WWE for «treating him like family, and for all their love, support and effort to make sure Darren always had the care and treatment he needed to live in his condition for the past 24 years.» .
«He wouldn’t want anyone to be sad right now and he would want this to be a celebration of his life, to be remembered for all the great things he accomplished, the fun, the laughs, the great memories he shared with everyone,» the actress said. family.
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Before turning to wrestling, Droz played in six NFL games with the Denver Broncos in 1993 and also spent time with the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles. He was a defensive tackle at the University of Maryland.