William White, Former Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions Football Player, Dead at 56 After ALS Battle

William White
Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

William White has died. The Detroit Lions, one of the NFL teams the late athlete played for during his time in the league, announced his death on Twitter Thursday. White, who had been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for six years, was 56.

"We share in the sadness felt today throughout the NFL community following the news of William White’s passing," the Lions wrote. "Drafted by the Lions in the 4th round of the 1988 Draft out of Ohio State, White played 6 seasons in Detroit (1988-1993) & appeared in 95 games (79 starts) for the club."

The team's special assistant to president/CEO and Chairperson, Chris Spielman, also released a statement following White's death.

"I loved William. We shared experiences of joy and sorrow on and off the field. He was and always will be my brother," Spielman's statement read. "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's son, Brendon White, retweeted the Lions' post and included a message of his own. 

"I love you Dad! Keep watching down on us I know you gonna watch over and protect us," he wrote. "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. U always taught me no one or thing determines my success."

After his time in Detroit, White, a safety, played for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons. He retired from the NFL in 1998, after playing 170 games over 11 seasons in the league.

White is survived by his wife, Nikol, and three children: William Jr., Brendon and Brea. 


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