Former Lions, Ohio State safety William White dies at 56 after battle with ALS

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William White
William White, seen here in 2021, died on Thursday at 56 after a lengthy battle with ALS. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Former Detroit Lions safety William White died Thursday night, the team announced.

White, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2016, was 56.

“I loved William. We shared experiences of joy and sorrow on and off the field,” special assistant to the Lions president and CEO Chris Spielman said in a statement about his former teammate.

“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 played in the league from 1988-1998, first for the Lions after they selected him in the fourth round of the draft out of Ohio State. White spent his first six seasons in Detroit, and made 79 starts while recording 450 total tackles and 13 interceptions. He put up 106 tackles and had five interceptions during the 1990 season, which marked his career-highs.

White finished his career with a three-year run with the Kansas City Chiefs and two-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons.

White was diagnosed with ALS in 2016.

“One of the things I always told my kids is things you can’t control, don’t worry about it. Things you can control, you go out there, you fight, you do all the hard work you can, to make that change, to make it right,” White told ElevenWarriors in 2018 about his diagnosis. “There’s nothing I can do to help cure this by tomorrow. There’s no need to be worried about it or get mad or anything like that. You live your life. No one’s guaranteed next year. So you live each day that you have and it will happen when it happens, but you do the work to help fight the cause … You never know, so you just live each day. Each day I have is a true blessing for me.”

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