William White Dies at 56; Former Lions, Ohio State Safety Diagnosed with ALS in 2016

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 29, 2022

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 31: Chris Spielman, left, embraces William White, both former Detroit Lions players, during the Pride of the Lions celebration during halftime in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field on October 31, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Former Detroit Lions and Ohio State University safety William White has died at age 56 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The Lions announced the news Thursday with a statement from special assistant to the president and CEO Chris Spielman, who was White's teammate with the Lions from 1988 to 1993:

Detroit Lions @Lions

We share in the sadness felt today throughout the NFL community following the news of William White’s passing. Drafted by the Lions in the 4th round of the 1988 Draft out of Ohio State, White played 6 seasons in Detroit (1988-1993) &amp; appeared in 95 games (79 starts) for the club. <a href="https://t.co/v42P1KnbmA">pic.twitter.com/v42P1KnbmA</a>

According to NFL.com's Grant Gordon, White was diagnosed with ALS in 2016.

Detroit selected White in the fourth round of the 1988 NFL draft, and after he spent his rookie season as a backup, the Lima, Ohio, native started for the Lions in each of the next five seasons.

White then played three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and two with the Atlanta Falcons before retiring after the 1998 campaign.

His most productive season came in 1990 when he finished with career highs of 106 tackles and five interceptions, and he returned one of those picks for a touchdown.

After experiencing limited playoff success during his first decade in the NFL, White fell just short of winning a Super Bowl in his final season.

White started 16 regular-season games in 1998 as well as three playoff games—logging two fourth-quarter interceptions of the San Francisco 49ers' Steve Young in the Falcons' 20-18 divisional round victory—but Atlanta fell to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

In his career, White started 132 of the 170 regular-season games he appeared in and recorded 721 tackles, 20 interceptions, two forced fumbles and 3.5 sacks.