The Ultimate Warrior has died, according to a statement posted on the WWE website Tuesday. He was 54.
The wrestler is survived by his wife, Dana, and their daughters, Indiana and Mattigan. "We are grateful just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans. WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior's family, friends and fans," the organization said in a statement.
Ultimate Warrior was born James Hellwig, but he legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993.
"We are all so sad that the Ultimate Warrior has passed away," WWE chairman Vince McMahon tweeted. "Our heart is with his wife Dana and his two daughters."
Stephanie McMahon, WWE's chief brand officer, shared her dad's sentiments, writing, "Your strength of character is to be admired. There will never be anyone like you. Your spirit lives on in your family."
During his final public appearance—his first on WWE Monday Night Raw since 1996—the wrestler spoke about his legacy. "No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own," he told the audience. "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 believe 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.
Hellwig began his wrestling career as a bodybuilder-turned-wrestler in Southern California. Warrior joined the then-WWF in 1987 and was re-branded as The Ultimate Warrior. After his retirement in the '90s—which included a memorable match against Hulk Hogan—he worked as a motivational speaker.
When he made his return to the WWE Monday, Hellwig presciently told the crowd, "I am the Ultimate Warrior, you are the Ultimate Warrior fans and the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever."
After news of Hellwig's passing, many colleagues and celebrity fans shared condolences via Twitter:
RIP WARRIOR. only love. HH? Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) April 9, 2014
So happy I embraced Warrior with a hug when we saw each other backstage Saturday night.My heart goes out to his family.Always Believe.? Kevin Nash (@RealKevinNash) April 9, 2014
After all these years I finally got 2 tell him that me shaking the ropes was an homage 2 him. Blessed to have had that moment. #onelife? Dave Bautista (@DaveBautista) April 9, 2014
Whenever we play wrestled when I was a kid I always had to be the ultimate warrior... RIP? Pete Wentz (@petewentz) April 9, 2014
Dammmmm R.I.P. to the Ultimate Warrior!!!!? Mack Maine (@mackmaine) April 9, 2014
"Master Blaster runs Heaventown." -- Mickey Rooney, climbing atop The Ultimate Warrior's shoulders in the afterlife? Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) April 9, 2014
I saw that the Ultimate Warrior passed away. Very sad.? William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) April 9, 2014