Billy Joe Travis Death – Heart Attack
1961-2002 (Age 41)
Billy Joe Travis was a talented athlete whose early years in professional wrestling suggested considerable potential. Sadly, his inability to overcome personal demons killed any chance of breakout success and may have even led to his early death.
A Promising Future
On April 29, 1961, Gary Mize was born in Kentucky, enjoying wrestling as a youngster.
Mize set his mind to becoming a wrestler and utilized his skills in track (including his record-breaking skills in high school as a high-jumper) to create exciting in-ring performances. Although Travis was only 5’10”, his good looks, charisma, ability to sell, and fast-paced style suggested a promising future.
Mayhem in Memphis
After a run in the WWF as an enhancement talent, Travis came to work in Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler’s Memphis Wrestling. Travis formed a popular babyface team with a young Jeff Jarrett in Memphis Wrestling battling heel teams such as the Rock-n-Roll RPMs, the Kelly Twins, and future AWA World Tag Team Champions Paul Diamond and Pat Tanaka.
While Travis lacked the size for main event success in companies such as the WWF or WCW, he had a promising future until drug abuse ruined his professional reputation.
Billy Joe Travis’ 15 Minutes of Shame
As his drug use continued, Travis worked in several smaller promotions, eventually returning to the Memphis area during its dying days.
There, he was involved in one of the most bizarre incidents in wrestling when the police arrested him in 1997 while he was being interviewed for a match. Travis, who owed back child support, was spotted on TV, and the police were called in, leading to his on-air arrest.
Billy Joe Travis Dies Young
While Travis continued wrestling, he never found break-out success.
Billy Joe Travis died on November 22, 2002 after suffering a massive heart attack. He was 41.
Travis joins a long list of pro wrestlers who died before age 50.
What are your favorite memories of Billy Joe Travis? Let us know in the comments below.