William White, Former NFL Defensive Back, Dead at 56 After Battle With ALS

by Nick Geddes

The Detroit Lions announced Thursday night that former defensive back William White passed away after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

White was 56. Chris Spielman, a former teammate of White and Lions special assistant to president/CEO, released the following statement.

“I loved William,” Spielman said. “We shared experiences of joy and sorrow on and off the field. He was and always will be my brother. 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.”

William White was a Key Member of the Detroit Lions in the 1990s

White was selected by the Lions in the fourth round of the 1988 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. White sparsely played in his rookie season before becoming a full-time starter in 1989. He started in 79-of-80 games for the Lions through the 1993 season. White recorded 450 tackles and 13 interceptions during his tenure in Detroit.

He joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 1994 and spent three seasons there, compiling 123 tackles and four interceptions. He finished out the final two seasons of his career with the Atlanta Falcons — playing in Super Bowl XXXIII. The Falcons were defeated by the Denver Broncos, 34-19, with White leading Atlanta with nine tackles.

Ahead of Friday’s practice, Lions head coach Dan Campbell took a moment to offer his condolences to White’s family.

“I think any time when you’re a part of this profession, this brotherhood, and you hear news like that it does — it hits pretty hard,” Campbell said. “We’re thinking about him and his family.”