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The legendary former WWE Diva Mae Young died at age 90 on Jan. 14, 2014. Pictured: Dwayne Johnson is seen hugging Mae Young in this photo, posted on his Twitter page that day. / Mae Young is seen in an undated WWE.com publicity photo. - Provided courtesy of twitter.com/TheRock/status/423328381816803328 / WWE

Mae Young dies: WWE Hall of Famer was 90

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01/15/2014 by Corinne Heller

WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young has died at age 90.

Young, one the original WWE Divas passed away, on Tuesday night at her home in Columbia, North Carolina, according to the Post and Courier newspaper. On Jan. 9, it was reported she was "gravely ill." WWE, which called Young "a pioneer of women's wrestling for eight decades," posted tribute messages and photos on Wednesday.

"There will never be another Mae Young,"WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon said in a statement posted on the group's website. "Her longevity in sports entertainment may never be matched, and I will forever be grateful for all of her contributions to the industry. On behalf of WWE, I extend our sincerest condolences to her family and friends."

Young was born Johnnie Mae Young in Sand Springs, Oklahoma on March 12, 1923. She began wrestling when she was 16, on her high school team, and became a professional wrester in 1939, the year World War II started. In 1999, she made her debut as a wrestler for the World Wrestling Federation, which became WWE in 2002.

During the later years of her life, Young appeared occasionally at WWE events, sometimes in a bikini. She won Miss Royal Rumble 2000 at age 77. Her final on-screen appearance took place in March 2013, on an episode of "'Old School' Raw." McMahon and wrestling star Triple H presented her with a Divas Championship belt in honor of her 90th birthday (watch video).

Young helped train several fellow female wrestlers, including her friend Mary Lillian Ellison, aka The Fabulous Moolah, who became the first WWE Hall of Famer in 1995. Young was inducted herself in 2008.

WWE legends mourn Mae Young

Several current and former pro wrestlers expressed their condolences over Young's death online.

Roddy Piper said on his Twitter page: "May Young was a wonderful lady! When I started in the business May teased me a lot. Love you May! rip"

Ric Flair said on his Twitter page: "I have so much respect for Mae Young. Incredible person & pioneer of the wrestling business. An honor to sit in the WWE Hall of Fame w/her."

Pat Patterson - he said in a statement posted on the official Facebook page of WWE's "Monday Night Raw" show: "There's been only one Mae Young, and there will be ONLY one EVER!"

Jake the Snake said on his Twitter page: "Saddened about Mae Young," Jake the Snake said on his Twitter. "May God rest her soul. Nobody, male or female, loved & respected the wrestling business more than her. True legend."

"The entire WWE Universe offers a standing ovation to a true queen of the canvas and bids Mae Young a heartfelt farewell," the group said in a statement.

See more messages and photos shared by WWE stars (including Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson") and watch the groups video tribute to Mae Young below.

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