Former NFL safety William White has died at the age of 56 following a lengthy battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the Detroit Lions announced in a statement shared on their verified Twitter account.
“We share in the sadness felt today throughout the NFL community following news of William White’s passing,” the Lions wrote.
White, who played for the Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons during his 11-year NFL career, was diagnosed with ALS in 2016.
Lions special assistant to president/CEO Chris Spielman, White’s teammate in Detroit during their first six NFL seasons, as well as during their collegiate careers at Ohio State, issued a statement in response to his longtime friend’s death.
“I loved William,”Spielman said. “We shared experiences of joy and sorrow on and off the field. He was and always will be my brother. I am forever grateful for the special moment last year when he was able to be by my side during the Pride of the Lions ceremony at Ford Field. I can’t wait to see him again when he will be free from ALS. May God’s peace rest upon his family.”
White was selected by the Lions at No. 85 overall in the fourth-round of the 1988 NFL Draft and joined Spielman, a linebacker selected in the second-round, as a defensive starter during his second season.
The Lima, Ohio native made 79 starts during 95 appearances for the Lions, recording 450 tackles and 13 interceptions during his first six NFL seasons.
White played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1994-96 and the Atlanta Falcons from 1997-98, starting in Super Bowl XXXIII during his final NFL game.