Ahead of Shad Gaspard receiving the Warrior Award at the 2022 WWE Hall Of Fame, we pay tribute to the late star and fondly look back at his career.
A son of New York Shad Gaspard had been an athlete in high school taking his talents and size to Georgia Perimeter College where he excelled at basketball. Gaspard went on to work as a bodyguard to the stars with rapper P Diddy and boxing legend Mike Tyson among his clients before embarking on a career in pro wrestling.
That career began in earnest when Gaspard debuted for WWE developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2003 where he was known as Da Beast. The 6ft 7-inch star formed several tag teams in OVW with stars such as Carlito and Kenny Dykstra, but it wasn’t until he teamed up with a man known as The Neighborhoodie that he struck gold.
Collectively known as The Gang Stars, Gaspard and Neigborhoodie captured the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship. But bigger things were on the horizon and in October 2006 Shad Gaspard and The Neighborhoodie – now rechristened as JTG – made their Raw debut as Cryme Tyme.
Cryme Tyme had a hugely successful winning record in the company but that didn’t result in many opportunities to become the WWE Tag Team Champions. And in September 2007 both JTG and Gaspard’s time in the company was cut short after an incident at a show where the team who had become known for their hijinks and thieving ways attempted to sell a referee’s belt to the highest bidder in the crowd.
Their hiatus from the company was short-lived and in March 2008 Cryme Tyme returned, picking up where they left off by defeating Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade. A few months into their second run with the company Shad Gaspard and JTG found themselves in an informal faction with John Cena known as CTC.
Cryme Tyme continued to flirt with tag team gold, feuding with champions such as Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase, John Morrison & The Miz, and even challenging Chris Jericho and The Big Show for the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship at SummerSlam 2009.
In April 2010, Cryme Tyme split after Shad Gaspard attacked his long-time partner. The men feuded with JTG picking up a win over Gaspard in a Strap Match at Extreme Rules of that year. Ultimately Shad Gaspard’s WWE career was coming to an end and he left the company in November 2010.
Gaspard spent some time on the independent scene and in 2104 reunited with JTG going on to compete as the slightly renamed Crime Time. Ultimately, though, it won’t be his wrestling career that Shad Gaspard is best remembered for, it will be the tragic actions that saw him lose his life far too soon and his final act of heroism that saved his son’s life.
Shad Gaspard passed away in May 2020 after he and a group of swimmers were caught in a strong rip current. When lifeguards arrived to rescue the group Gaspard heroically directed them to save his son, who was among the swimmers, before helping him. Sadly by the time rescuers returned it was too late and Shad Gaspard’s body was recovered three days after going missing, he was 39 years old.
Gaspard’s tag team partner JTG had previously spoken of his hope that the late star would be honoured by WWE with the Warrior Award, telling Chris Van Vliet in November 2020:
“He definitely should. I don’t know what’s a bigger heroic act than putting his life on the line for his son. But honestly, he would have done it if it was another child. If it was me, he probably would have did the same exact thing.”
The Warrior Award is “presented to an individual who has exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance” and who has lived life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of The Ultimate Warrior.
The award was established in 2015, a year after The Ultimate Warrior passed away just days after his own induction into the WWE Hall Of Fame. The first recipient of the award was Connor “The Crusher” Michalek. At the 2021 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, the award was presented to WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil.