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WWE legend Road Warrior Animal dead at 60

Anthony Sulla-Heffinger
·3-min read
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 24:  Joe Laurinaitis aka Road Warrior Animal attends the C2E2 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo at McCormick Place on April 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 24: Joe Laurinaitis aka Road Warrior Animal attends the C2E2 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo at McCormick Place on April 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images)

Pro wrestling legend Road Warrior Animal, real name Joseph Laurinaitis, died at the age of 60, his family and WWE confirmed on Wednesday morning. The cause of death was not immediately known or released.

One half of the iconic tag team known as both the Road Warriors and Legion of Doom, Laurinaitis began his pro wrestling career in the 1980s and would go on to win various championships and earn numerous accolades during his four-decades in the industry.

Laurinaitis — and his tag-team partner Road Warrior Hawk (real name Michael Hegstrand) — were two of the most recognizable stars during WWE’s rise to prominence in the 1990s. Their names, painted faces and spike-studded, football-style shoulder pads were inspired by the blockbuster movie franchise “Mad Max” and made them an immediate fan favorite, regardless of the city, country or promotion they were working in.

Hegstrand passed away in 2003 at the age of 46.

In 2011, Laurinaitis, Hegstrand and Ellering were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame collectively as The Road Warriors.

Laurinaitis leaves behind three children, Joseph, James and Jessica. James Laurinaitis was a star linebacker for Ohio State University before being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft.

Laurinaitis’s two brothers, John and Marcus were also professional wrestlers. John Laurinaitis remains involved with WWE as an executive.

Tributes from around the wrestling world poured in on Wednesday morning after the news of Laurinaitis’s passing broke.

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