Wyatt, whose real name was Windham Rotunda, died last Thursday
WWE star Bray Wyatt died of a heart attack, PEOPLE can confirm.
A source tells PEOPLE the 36-year-old professional wrestler, whose real name was Windham Rotunda, died in his sleep last Thursday, and that he had seen a doctor earlier in the day for an ongoing heart condition.
WWE Chief Content Officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque announced Wyatt's death later that day on social media.
He is survived by fiancée Joseann Offerman, known as “JoJo” during her time in WWE. They shared two children together, while Wyatt had two other children from his previous marriage to Samantha Rotunda.
TMZ also reported Monday that Wyatt died in his sleep and that he was not wearing a doctor-recommended heart defibrillator at the time of his death. The device was reportedly found in Wyatt's car parked outside his home, according to the outlet.
Related: WWE Star Bray Wyatt Dead at 36
The third generation pro wrestler first joined WWE in early 2009, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Blackjack Mulligan and his father Mike Rotunda. Wyatt’s uncles also wrestle, while his brother Taylor Rotunda wrestled for WWE as “Bo Dallas.”
After joining WWE, Rotunda began working his way up from the company’s developmental wrestling promotions to the main roster as the character “Husky Harris.” As Harris, Rotunda enjoyed a brief run on WWE’s main roster before returning to its developmental system in 2011.
It was at that point when he came up with the character “Bray Wyatt,” an enigmatic cult leader who often spoke in riddles. The Wyatt character became beloved by WWE fans, and Rotunda went on to win three WWE world championships and two tag team titles.
The late WWE star was remembered by colleagues and fans as one of the most innovative and creative people to ever work in the wrestling business. Wyatt’s characters often broke pro wrestling’s norms and pushed boundaries in the athletic artform, utilizing special effects, puppets and mysteriously layered characters that often left story arcs open-ended and speculative.
“Always had tremendous respect and love for him and the Rotunda family. Loved his presence, promos, in ring work and connection with @wwe universe,” he wrote in the online tribute. “Very unique, cool and rare character, which is hard to create in our crazy world of pro wrestling. Still processing losing the goat, Terry Funk yesterday and now Bray today.”
John Cena, who faced off against Wyatt at WrestleMania 30 and again at WrestleMania 36, wrote on social media that he was "devastated" to hear about his death.
"Windham brought the best out of me in so many ways," Cena wrote, referring to Wyatt by his real name. "I’m forever grateful for the moments we shared."
In recent years, as professional wrestlers appeared more willing to peel back the curtain on the semi-scripted business and break the fourth wall, Wyatt intentionally conducted very few interviews and remained as veiled as possible in the era of the internet.
He was briefly released by WWE in 2021 before rejoining the company in 2022. For months, Wyatt’s anticipated return was foreshadowed on WWE television with quick flashes of QR codes that led to websites featuring teasers and puzzles that fans needed to decode.
The unconventional advertising tactic was emblematic of Rotunda’s creativity, which fueled a character as dynamic and influential as few before him.
“When I go out there I’m trying to deliver something important to me, you know, there's passion and there's emotion behind every single syllable that I put out of my mouth, and I feel like people have really connected with that on very deep levels — not just entertainment value, but people that take into it as life lessons,” Wyatt said on the Gorilla Position podcast in 2017, one of the few interviews he gave during his WWE career. “When I go out there, it's because I want to deliver something special and I want to give them something that no one else does. And no one else does me, because no one else is me. And I think that will be my legacy.”
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