Big Van Vader
Years Active: 1985-
Perhaps more well known for his portrayal as Frankie Stechino's dad on Boy Meets World, Vader has attempted a comeback after a quasi-retirement. Before that, he was a high school football coach. He also raised money after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a country where he generated a lot of fame as a headlining body-slammer. His son, Jesse, is currently a developmental wrestler after a hip injury cut his NFL prospects short. Health problems have run in the family as Vader himself had infected knees that forced him to be bedridden for six months.
Since his success in the WWE, Vader has wrestled competitively in Japan where he was the two-time All Japan Pro Wrestling Champ. He said he preferred Japan over the U.S. because even though Japanese pro wrestling is more brutal, the tours are shorter. Vader was having trouble as a "large" man traveling in airplanes, it culminated in him passing out on a trip to Japan which landed him in a coma for over a month, during which he lost 112 pounds, and struggled to both walk and talk again.
As of a year ago, he had claimed to suffer 19 concussions and had gone under the knife 45 times. He said he hit rock bottom in 2007 when he returned home to Colorado to find his wife gone. Since then he's turned his life around and now does speeches and hangs out with veterans who have different backgrounds but many of the same injuries that the, once 425 pound, star suffers from.