At 18-years-old, he competed in amateur boxing and won a silver medal in the lightweight division at the 1982 World Championships. Whitaker, famous for his southpaw boxing stance and a strong counterpunch, was hit and killed by a auto while crossing an intersection in Virginia Beach.
The Virginia Beach Police Department is still investigating the matter while the driver of the vehicle has spoken to the police, the Independent reported.
Whitaker held numerous titles during his boxing career and had a 40-4-1 record with 17 knockouts.
Acclaimed trainer Freddie Roach described Whitaker as "a speed demon" while former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson referred to him as a "perfect fighter".
Whitaker, after a handful of other bouts, retired in 2001 before being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.
"To everyone please respect my family's privacy in this trying moment".
Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker, 55, was reportedly killed after getting hit by a auto in Virginia Beach.
Many pundits believed Whitaker had won the fight but it was scored a majority draw.
Tributes to Whitaker flowed on social media after his death was made public, including a tweet from former National Football League quarterback Michael Vick, who also grew up in Virginia. My thoughts are with his family & close ones. Whitaker now holds the longest unified lightweight championship reign in boxing history with 6 title defenses.
His career highlights included a controversial battle with Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez.