The heartbreaking final photo of “Superstar” Billy Graham shows the WWE Hall of Famer “in the fight of his life” before his tragic death
WEEKS before his tragic death, a heartbreaking photo of ‘superstar’ Billy Graham alongside his son revealed the former champion was in the ‘fight of his life’.
Graham – real name Eldridge Wayne Coleman – had been hospitalized since January after being diagnosed with an ear and skull infection, his family said.
A photo of the former World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) champion giving a thumbs up in the hospital bed was shared by his son Joe.
Joe explained that the photo was admitted on April 25, 2023 and it had been four months since his father had been home.
“He was either in rehab or in the hospital,” Joe said.
“Due to the persistent loss of appetite, he has now lost 30 kilos and has continued to struggle with extreme weakness ever since.”
Joe also shared that his father was struggling with kidney problems and was on dialysis, along with heart and lung problems, bedsores and depression.
Because of Graham’s constant medical care, Joe explained that the family was struggling financially to cover costs and also revealed that Graham and his wife Valerie had fallen ill with Covid-19 a few months earlier.
“And unfortunately, Valerie continues to struggle with today’s Long Covid virus and as a result had to extend her residency permits, resulting in them having absolutely no income,” he wrote.
“The emotional toll of not being able to visit her husband due to Covid, coupled with the deep concern for his health and their financial difficulties, is heartbreaking and very distressing for both of them.”
“Anyone who finds it in their heart to donate any amount would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much. Please help and pray that the superstar recovers and comes home where he belongs. God bless you all, thank you.” You. He is in the fight of his life.”
A GoFundMe The page was shared with a $50,000 goal that has reached more than $21,000 at the time of writing.
On Wednesday, Graham’s family confirmed he died at the age of 79 after being removed from life support, with his wife and daughter by his side.
16-time world champion Ric Fair tweeted that Graham had “left us”.
“Thank you for all your influence on my career!” Flair wrote.
Following news of Graham’s death, fans and fellow wrestlers paid tribute to the star’s career.
Two-time WWE Hall of Fame inductee X-Pac shared a photo of a much younger Graham.
“That’s the version of superstar Billy Graham that I saw in Florida,” he said wrote. “He came out to kung fu and I loved it! RIP to the most copied man of all time in pro wrestling.”
The Iron Sheik, a member of the Hall of Fame, shared a photo of him and Graham on Twitter. Write: “SUPERSTAR BILLY GRAHAM. ONE OF MY FIRST TEACHERS OF HEAT. THE TRUE LEGEND BUBBA. HE LOVES ME, I LOVE HIM. TOGETHER WE GO TO THE GYM AND PROTECT THE EARTH. I LOVE YOU FOREVER BROTHER. RIP.”
“Superstar” Billy Graham started out as a bodybuilder and competed as a teenager before training under legendary wrestler and trainer Stu Hart.
He appeared in Hart’s promotion Stampede Wrestling on January 16, 1970 in a match against Dan Kroffat.
At first he appeared under his real name, but soon adopted the name Billy Graham – after the model of the famous evangelist of the same name.
Over time, he developed his flamboyant personality for which he became known and became a fan favorite with his entertaining interviews.
Graham made his in-ring debut for the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), now known as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), in October 1975 in a tag team match with Spiros Arion.
Together, the duo defeated then-WWF Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino and Dominic De Nucci.
Pro Wrestling Illustrated named him Most Hated Wrestler of 1973 before giving him Match of the Year honors for his bouts with Sammartino and Bob Backlund.
His career served as an inspiration for several wrestlers, many of whom he trained, including Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Scott Steiner and Jesse Ventura.
In 2004, Graham was inducted into the 2004 WWE Hall of Fame by Ventura.
He is survived by his wife Valerie, whom he married in 1978.
Graham also had two children from a previous marriage, daughter Capella and son Joey, whose godfather was wrestler Dusty Rhodes.