WWE legend Billy Graham has died aged 79 after battling a ‘myriad of health issues while on life support.
Graham had been in the hospital for a number of months dealing with a ‘myriad of very serious health issues’ and had been in the ICU for many weeks, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help him and his family.
Graham died Wednesday after being taken off life support with his wife and daughter by his side, his family told TMZ.
16-time World Champion Ric Flair first appeared to break the news on Twitter Wednesday night, as he posted: ‘The Superstar Billy Graham Just Left Us THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR INFLUENCE On My Career!‘
The WWE Hall-of-Famer hospitalized in January with an infection in his ears that spread to his ear bones and skull.
He was also reportedly battling a number of other health issues, including acute kidney failure, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and hearing loss.
Popular WWE Superstar And Legend Is Dead
Graham’s wife, Valerie, had previously shared an update on her husband’s health on his official Facebook page on May 15, revealing she had initially refused to take him off life support.
In an update, Valerie said, ‘Please urgent prayers needed for my husband. The doctors wanted to remove him from life support tonight. I refused.
‘He’s a fighter and his will is strong even if his body isn’t. God is our hope.’
Prior to his storied wrestling career, Graham – born Eldridge Wayne Coleman – tried out for the Canadian Football League but rose to fame through an impressive bodybuilding career.
Beginning his wrestling career in 1969, Graham signed with various promotions before making his debut with the WWE – then known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation – in 1975.
By that time, his in-arena look became influential to many of the most popular wrestlers of the time – including Austin Idol, Jesse Ventura, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair.
When wrestling surged in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, wrestlers such as Steve Austin and Triple H began adopting his look and mannerisms.
Over the course of his WWE career, he won the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship once back in 1977.
Graham was inducted alongside Ventura and Sgt. Slaughter in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2004.
But Graham was not without his controversies. He was a user of anabolic steroids, once claiming that he was ‘an innovator of steroid use’ in the WWE. Graham went on to do a public awareness campaign regarding the dangers of the drug.
Graham has been dealing with serious health issues over the course of two decades.
He’s had multiple issues with his liver – requiring transplants – eventually being diagnosed with third-stage liver disease and cirrhosis back in 2012.
Since then, he has been hospitalized for pneumonia, possible heart failure, liver complications, and internal bleeding.
Back in 2022, he had his toes amputated. In January of this year, he was hospitalized after being diagnosed with an ear and skull infection – which he is currently fighting.
According to that GoFundMe page, Graham had been away from home for four months – either at a rehab center or in a hospital.
As of April 26, the page said he had lost 80 pounds and had ‘extreme weakness’, was on strong IV antibiotics three times a day. Doctors said that he, would ‘need to be on them for at least three more months’.
The page also said that the infection in his ears, skull and sinuses had rendered him ‘completely deaf’.
Graham ‘also intermittently suffered with kidney issues, and been on dialysis’ in addition to ‘having heart and lung concerns, sores from being in bed for four months, and depression.’
While all of this has been going on, Valerie contracted COVID two months ago and continued to struggle with Long COVID. As a result, it is believed she hadn’t been able to see him before being at the hospital to take him off life support.
BY IYABO AINA
Publisher Of News Rain Nigeria