Former NFL safety William White dead at 56 after battle with ALS

Former NFL safety William White dead at 56 after battle with ALS

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Veteran NFL safety William White, who spent six years with the Detroit Lions, has died after a six-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the team announced Thursday. He was 56. 

White, who was diagnosed with the condition in 2016, was first drafted by the Lions out of Ohio State in the fourth round of the 1988 NFL Draft. He also played for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons, during which time he appeared in Super Bowl XXXIII.

Former Detroit Lions player William White, shown during the Pride of the Lions celebration at halftime during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field in Detroit on Oct. 31, 2021.

Former Detroit Lions player William White, shown during the Pride of the Lions celebration at halftime during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field in Detroit on Oct. 31, 2021. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

“I loved William,” Lions special assistant to president/CEO Chris Spielman said in a statement. “We shared experiences of joy and sorrow on and off the field. He was and always will be my brother.”

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“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,” he continued. “I can’t wait to see him again when he will be free from ALS. May God’s peace rest upon his family.”

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William White, defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs, during a game against the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Sept. 10, 1995.

William White, defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs, during a game against the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Sept. 10, 1995. (Jonathan Daniel/Allsport/Getty Images)

White registered 20 interceptions and 721 tackles across 170 games during his NFL career. 

“I think any time when you’re a part of this profession, this brotherhood, and you hear news like that it does — it hits pretty hard,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell told reporters Friday. “We’re thinking about him and his family.”

Chris Spielman, left, embraces William White, both former Detroit Lions players, during the Pride of the Lions celebration at halftime in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field in Detroit on Oct. 31, 2021.

Chris Spielman, left, embraces William White, both former Detroit Lions players, during the Pride of the Lions celebration at halftime in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field in Detroit on Oct. 31, 2021. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

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Ohio State Senior Vice President and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletic Director Gene Smith also shared his condolences on Twitter:

“RIP William White. A great person and Buckeye. Thank you for all you gave us!”

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