Former Lions safety William White dies after lengthy battle with ALS

Detroit News

Allen Park — After a six-year battle with ALS, former Detroit Lions safety William White passed away this week the team announced Thursday night. He was 56 years old.

“I loved William,” former teammate and Lions special assistant 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. 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.”

Lions coach Dan Campbell also opened his daily press conference on Friday extending condolences to White’s family.

“Praying for them,” Campbell said. “I think any time you’re part of this profession, this brotherhood, and you hear news like that, it does hit pretty hard. I know for Chris this is hard. Chris was close to him, as well. Certainty thinking about him and his family.”

The Lions drafted both Spielman and White, college teammates at Ohio State, in the 1988 draft. Moving into the starting lineup his second season, White would go on to play six seasons in Detroit, racking up 450 tackles and intercepting 13 passes.

Following his time with the Lions, White would continue his career in Kansas City and Atlanta, retiring in 1998 after 11 professional seasons.

White’s son, Brendan, followed in his father’s footsteps, playing safety three seasons for Ohio State (2017-19).

“I love you Dad,” Brendan posted on social media Thursday night. “Keep watching down on us. I know you gonna watch over and protect us. I promise with all my heart you’ll see me in a NFL jersey as we promised each other! We love and miss you! I promise to make you proud.”

White returned to Detroit last season to participate in Spielman’s induction into the team’s “Pride of the Lions.” And at the end of the halftime ceremony, he gave his honorary jacket to White.

“To my friend and my brother, this is not my moment, this is our moment,” Spielman said.

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