7:50 AM PT -- 5/21 -- Shad Gaspard's wife, Siliana, just issued an emotional statement on the passing of her husband ... calling him "our protector, our warrior."
"Aryeh, myself and the Gaspard and Chittick families would like to take this time to thank everyone for their prayers and support, as we mourn the terrible loss of our beloved Shad," Siliana said.
"Shad was our whole world and we were his. There are not enough words to describe what he means to all of us. He was our heart, our soul, our protector, our warrior. He was a bright force of nature, who brought joy to many through his joyous and gracious nature."
"The outpouring of love from Shad’s friends, colleagues and fans has meant more to us than you can even imagine. We’d like to once again thank the lifeguards, coastguard, divers, fire and police departments for their efforts."
"Shad was and will always be our real life super hero."
3:19 PM PT -- 5/20 -- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is grieving the loss of his fellow WWE Superstar ... calling Shad a "great guy" and saying "this is a tough one to process."
"My deepest condolences and love to Shad Gaspard’s wife, son and family," Johnson said on Instagram.
"Shad drowned in the ocean, but not before instructing lifeguards to save his 10yr old son first. That’s the love of a father."
"Love and light to Shad’s family. And your warrior spirit lives on through your son."
The L.A. County Coroner has identified the body found on L.A.'s Venice Beach as ex-WWE superstar Shad Gaspard ... TMZ Sports has learned.
The body was first seen on the beach by a citizen who called cops around 1:30 AM Wednesday ... according to our law enforcement sources. We're told officers responded and recovered the body right near Venice Pier.
A short time later, several people (we're told family members and close friends) gathered at the beach.
Shad loved hanging out at the beach, and less than 2 weeks ago he'd posted a heartwarming vid walking through the sand and surf with Aryeh. Shad wrote, "Love the life I built for my self and my family."
He was one-half of the popular WWE tag team, Cryme Time, along with his partner, JTG.
He was also a regular at the legendary Gold's Gym in Venice, and as we learned firsthand ... a truly great guy.
Shad is survived by his wife Siliana and their son.