The Reuters news agency, various media outlets and friends have confirmed that 41-year-old stand-up comedian and former WWE writer Patrice O'Neal has passed away. He succumbed to complications from a stroke that he suffered five weeks ago.
O'Neal was diabetic. He had recently been trying to get his health under control, losing a considerable amount of weight, but the damage had been done.
An incredibly gifted comedian, he most recently gained attention for his show-stealing performance at Comedy Central's roast of Charlie Sheen. Probably best known for his regular appearances on The Opie and Anthony Show on XM Satellite Radio, he also made memorable appearances a warehouse worker on The Office and was one of the "Playa Haters' Ball" pimps on Chappelle's Show. He also hosted shows for both VH1 and Comedy Central and was a regular on Colin Quinn's Tough Crowd discussion show.
As for WWE, his stint as a writer came in 2000, which I believe was the company's most profitable year ever (2001 had higher wrestling profits, but the whole company was affected by losses associated with the XFL). Publicly, he didn't take credit for any specific angles or storylines, preferring to tell stories about his time in the company instead.
Generally, he would talk about how impressed he was by Vince McMahon and tell the tale of how he was fired. When a previously scheduled stand-up gig conflicted with a WWE date, he went with the stand-up gig and was fired by Stephanie McMahon.
As a comedian who was used to this, he went on with his business unfazed. Confused by his reaction, Stephanie called him six times to fire him. As he told the story, when he explained that his stand-up career came first, she was shocked and said "What? You're committed to WWE!"
O'Neal's good friend and fellow comedian Jim Norton tweeted this:
Time to spend the rest of the day looking up Patrice stuff on YouTube. Rest in peace.
Bereavement messages for Patrice O'Neal's friends and family can be sent to LoveForPatrice@gmail.com.