Grant WahlCBS’ wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, told CBS News Wednesday that the famed football reporter died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm.
“He had an autopsy done here in New York by the New York City medical examiner’s office, and it showed he had an aortic aneurysm that ruptured,” said Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and CBS News contributor.
“It’s just one of these things that they’ve probably been cooking up for years, and for whatever reason it’s happening right now,” she told “CBS Mornings” co-anchor Gayle King in her first interview since her husband’s death.
Wahl died on Friday at the age of 49 while in Qatar to cover the World Cup. His agent, Tim Scanlan, said the reporter “appeared to have suffered some kind of serious discomfort in the press room” of the stadium during the quarter-final match between Argentina and the Netherlands, when the two teams started to play in extra time. Paramedics were called to the scene, Scanlan said, but were unable to revive him.
Qatari officials said in a statement that Wahl “received immediate medical attention at the scene, which continued as he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital.”
Gounder said he was wrapping up work calls on Friday when he saw incoming Twitter, text and email messages, and realized “something clearly was wrong.” She was told her husband passed out and was taken to the hospital after about 20 minutes of CPR. She tried to track down someone at the hospital to tell her what happened.
“I kept asking: Did he have a pulse?” she said. “If she had a pulse when she left the stadium that would have been a good sign, but nobody would have answered the question. And so for me – I was scared.”
Gounder tweeted Friday that she was “completely shocked” by her husband’s death and thanked Wahl’s “football family” and their friends for their support.
“Knowing he was loved by so many people makes me feel a little less alone,” Gounder told King. “It’s like a warm hug when you really need it.”
A prolific reporter, Wahl wrote for several outlets and was a contributor to CBS Sports. He was a CBS Sports HQ analyst during the Qatar World Cup and wrote guest columns focusing on the US Men’s National Team for CBS Sports. He also served as editorial consultant for football documentaries on Paramount+.
Wahl opened up about his health on his Spotify podcast Thursday, saying he contracted bronchitis while covering the World Cup. Scanlan told CBS News Wahl had an “aggressive schedule” while in Qatar.
Tributes it quickly flocked to Wahl after his death, from athletes like LeBron James and Billie Jean King.
His body was repatriated to the United States on Monday.
“I want people to remember him as a kind and generous person who was truly dedicated to social justice,” Gounder said.