Grant Wahl, a renowned sports writer who elevated soccer in the United States, has died while covering the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. An autopsy in New York has determined he died from a “slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium,” according to his wife, Celine Gounder, who is a doctor.
Grant’s brother, Eric, originally took to Instagram to say he is gay and is the reason Wahl earlier during the tournament wore a rainbow shirt — to support his gay brother in Qatar, where it is illegal to be gay. Eric said he suspected foul play, but he now says that was a mistake.
Wahl had previously discussed not feeling 100% physically, so there could have been an underlying issue:
On a podcast posted yesterday, Grant does share he was under the weather pic.twitter.com/CbYAC1XYyC— JACK SETTLEMAN (@jacksettleman) December 10, 2022
He had also said Qatari authorities stopped him for wearing an LGBT Pride rainbow shirt:
Just now: Security guard refusing to let me into the stadium for USA-Wales. “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.” pic.twitter.com/TvSGThMYq8— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) November 21, 2022
There has been a massive outpouring of reaction to Wahl’s death, including US Soccer:
U.S. Soccer Statement On The Passing Of Grant Wahl: pic.twitter.com/CBp1mCK1mQ— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) December 10, 2022
Billie Jean King:
Heartbreaking to hear of the death of Grant Wahl.— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) December 10, 2022
A talented journalist, Grant was an advocate for the LGBTQ community & a prominent voice for women's soccer.
He used his platform to elevate those whose stories needed telling.
Prayers for his family. https://t.co/mv9tWxOv5s
This is heartbreaking for me for so many reasons. Grant Wahl and soccer are inextricably linked. I have looked to Grant and his work for decades. The soccer story here in the US has Grant’s name all over it. We will miss you Grant and we can’t stop thinking about your family. https://t.co/Hv56lLgzxP— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) December 10, 2022
This is so devastating All the love to his family and loved ones . https://t.co/kfe89KCIIJ— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) December 10, 2022
One of Wahl’s Sports Illustrated colleagues, Seth Davis:
There are no words for how I am feeling right now. Grant and I came up together at Sports Illustrated. Brilliant writer. Dogged reporter. SUCH a good dude. Praying so hard for his wife and family. https://t.co/i936cXboxS— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) December 10, 2022
Lebron James, who was featured by Wahl and SI on a magazine cover when he was a high school junior:
You had a huge impact on me and my family and I’m so appreciative of you. A great person and journalist. Rest In Paradise Grant Wahl. https://t.co/rvFDGEA9fz— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 10, 2022
Soccer star Ali Krieger:
I’m so saddened by the news of @GrantWahl .. I’m sending all my love and strength to his family and friends. He was such an inspiration to our soccer community and anyone who was lucky enough to meet him.❤️— Ali Krieger (@alikrieger) December 10, 2022
It has been incredible to see the outpouring of love for Wahl and his family. By every account, he stood up for the underrepresented and tried to give a voice to the voiceless. He was fired from Sports Illustrated allegedly for criticizing their plan to reduce pay during the COVID pandemic and elevated women and LGBTQ people.
He will be deeply missed.