WWE icon Jerry Lawler of Memphis hospitalized. Dave Brown 'optimistic' after FaceTime call

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Jerry "The King" Lawler, a WWE Hall of Famer and Memphis resident, was admitted to a Florida hospital Monday after suffering a stroke, according to former WMC-TV chief meteorologist Dave Brown, a longtime friend of Lawler's.

The legendary professional wrestler is recovering from a stroke in a Fort Myers hospital, Brown told The Commercial Appeal. Lawler left for Florida last week to attend the Old Time Comic Show's "Heroes Meet Horror Con" on Feb. 4, in Punta Gorda and planned to spend this week at the condo he owns in Fort Myers, according to Brown.

Brown said he spoke to Lawler, 73, via FaceTime early Tuesday afternoon and was very encouraged.

“Some of the initial reports were just horrible, so I feel much better than I did 18 hours ago when I felt like I got hit in the face with a shovel,” he said. “I was incredibly encouraged after I did a FaceTime. Jerry was alert. He talked to me. He could only say a couple words at a time, which is pretty normal. But (he) was able to move both legs and both arms.

“I feel very optimistic that he’s eventually going to recover.”

Brown became friends with Lawler when he served as an announcer, alongside Lance Russell, for the long-running Saturday morning "Classic Memphis Wrestling."

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Lawler is just more than a decade removed from suffering a cardiac arrest on live television while serving as a commentator during an episode of "Monday Night Raw," the WWE's long-running weekly series.

Lawler, who was formally inducted into the Memphis Sports Hall of Fame in October 2022, has made several recent appearances for WWE. "Friday Night Smackdown" was held at FedExForum in his hometown on Jan. 6. Lawler made a brief appearance before the show went on the air on Fox. On Jan. 28, Lawler was among the panelists during the annual Royal Rumble kickoff show and later provided guest commentary during one of the show's matches.

Many notable figures in the professional wrestling industry took to social media Tuesday to express concern and offer well-wishes for Lawler. Ric Flair was among them, tweeting, "We are praying for you Jerry Lawler."

Reach sports writer Jason Munz at jason.munz@commercialappeal.com or on Twitter @munzly.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Jerry King Lawler stroke: WWE wrestling icon hospitalized in Florida