Matt Cappotelli, former WWE wrestler and 'Tough Enough III' winner, dead at 38

Former professional wrestler Matt Cappotelli has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 38.

On Friday, the WWE star's wife, Lindsay, shared a heartbreaking message on Instagram confirming the news.

“Today my love — my strong, sweet, beautiful love — took his last breath at 3:30 a.m. and went Home to be with Jesus…exactly one year after his brain surgery,” she wrote in the caption of a photo of herself and her husband.

"You think you can be prepared for this when you know it’s coming, but you just can’t. The only person whose comfort I want right now is the one who can’t give it to me," she continued. "I miss him so much already. I know where he is now is so much better, but it doesn’t change how much I miss him. It's so much harder than I even thought it would be."

Cappotelli first gained fame when he earned a WWE contract after winning the third season of the reality competition series Tough Enough in 2003, alongside fellow winner and wrestler John Hennigan.

Cappotelli, who wrestled under his own name and the pseudonym The Flava, made several appearances on multiple WWE shows including WWE Sunday Night Heat, Raw and Vengeance. He was later sent down to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) to continue to develop his promotional skills and stage presence.

However, his promising career was cut short in 2007 when he revealed to fans that he had been diagnosed with an astrocytoma, a form of malignant brain cancer, and that he had to undergo surgery.

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The initial treatment was successful and most of the tumor was removed. However, in 2017, Cappotelli revealed that he'd been diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive form of brain cancer. 

He underwent another surgery to remove a large tumor in June 27, but was hospitalized again in December. In May 2018, following a series of consultations with his neuro-oncologist, his wife announced that he had decided to stop medical treatments for the tumors.

After his retirement from wrestling, Cappotelli returned to OVW in 2013 to serve as a trainer for the organization's beginners program. His death was mourned by those he mentored and his many fans on Facebook, and both WWE and OVW paid tribute to the late star on Twitter.

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