Former WCW wrestler Chase Tatum was found dead late Sunday afternoon of an apparent accidental drug overdose, his father said.

Tatum, 34, was recovering from back surgery 10 days earlier to repair a degenerative disc. His father, Roy Tatum of Kennesaw, said his son had been battling a painkiller dependence for years but had made plans to enter a rehabilitation facility in Miami.

"He was in the process of getting his life back together," the elder Tatum said Monday evening. "He was confident he was going to turn things around, to live a normal life again without those painkillers."

Chase Tatum's body was discovered by a friend at his Buckhead home around 4 p.m. Sunday. He was unresponsive and could not be revived by emergency personnel. A toxicology report has been ordered by the Fulton County Medical Examiner, which will take anywhere from six to eight weeks, said Laura Salm, an investigator with the coroner's office.

"He laid down, went to sleep and woke up in heaven," his father said.

Chase Tatum was 19 years old when he won the Mr. Georgia bodybuilding competition. He was always a big kid, his father said, An online movie resume described him as 6-feet, 3-inches tall and 265 pounds.

He began a career as a personal trainer, which he continued doing until his death.

Tatum's wrestling career was unplanned and short-lived.

One of his clients was a WCW personality who encouraged him to audition. Tatum was accepted on his first try, debuting in 1999. He quickly gained notice; an online fan club dubbed him "WCW's coolest young jobber."

His dad, however, advised his son against becoming a pro wrestler.

"How long can you last in that field?" Roy Tatum said. "They go in with their eyes closed, think they'll make some quick money and then get out."

Tatum retired after about two-and-a-half years. The brief wrestling stint left him battling severe back problems but without health insurance to pay for the surgery.

The painkillers kept him going, his father said, and despite his dependence, Tatum found success as an actor. He landed a substantial role in the low-budget comedy, "Who's Your Caddy?" in 2007 alongside costar rapper Big Boi of Outkast. He also worked as a road manager and personal assistant with Outkast.

"He loved working with them," said his father, also an actor. "He got to see Paris, Germany and Japan."

He said his son had just landed a major role in a movie that was to be filmed in New York. In his spare time, Chase Tatum enjoyed spending time with his young nephew, Jake, the son of Chase's younger brother Colin.

"He was at his brother's house more than his own," Roy Tatum said.

Chase Tatum's funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta.