TJ Lavin Opens Up About Returning to ‘The Challenge’ After Major Brain Injury

TJ Lavin

Instagram/MTV TJ Lavin

TJ Lavin has been hosting “The Challenge” since the 11th season of the show and has seen the competition series grow from a small niche spinoff to being considered “America’s Fifth Major Sport.” In light of the 500th episode anniversary this week, MTV’s official “Challenge” Instagram page released several videos highlighting key moments in the show’s history and in one of them, TJ spoke about returning as host after suffering a horrific injury.

In addition to being the much-loved host of “The Challenge,” TJ, 44, is also a renowned BMX rider and competed and won many events in his career but in 2010, he was involved in a scary crash and was placed in a medically induced coma. TJ was competing in Las Vegas on October 14, 2010, and was rushed to the hospital after his crash, where he spent nine days in a medically induced coma and contracted pneumonia.

He was released from the hospital a month later, on November 16, 2010, and early in 2011, TJ was already back on the set of “The Challenge” to film the 21st season “Rivals” in Costa Rica.

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He Opened Up About Coming Back to the Show & How His Short-Term Memory Has Been Impacted & Several Stars Also Commented

In the video posted on “The Challenge” Instagram, TJ started by saying, “I wish I could tell you how it felt to walk back out into the show as the host after the brain injury that I had, but I really cannot remember.”

He added, “It was a very faint memory of standing behind something and they were like ‘hold on, wait, wait.'” The video then featured “Challenge” star Jonna Mannion, who was on “Rivals” and recently returned to the franchise for “All Stars,” telling the camera, “Everyone was just standing there waiting and he just walked in and everybody cheered.”

“I was like, okay cool, and I was a bit confused, I still was a little bit brain damaged,” TJ laughed. “I don’t really remember it too much. It’s almost as if my short-term memory is disappeared so time goes so, so fast.”

Nehemiah Clark was on the cast of “Rivals” back then and has also been back for “All Stars” and he said, “I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house and it showed how tough that guy is. It was just one of the best moments.” Tyler Duckworth said, “He had undergone such an awful accident and he’s such a soldier and he’s such a fighter.”

TJ said he definitely remembers moments of feeling really happy to be surrounded by the crew on “The Challenge,” who he considers his family as they’ve worked together for 15 years now. Here is the full video:

TJ Spoke About a Scary Near-Death Accident While Filming in Costa Rica Soon After Returning From His Injury

TJ previously shared one of his experiences during filming his first season back on “The Challenge,” saying he “almost drowned” while swimming in Costa Rica. On “MTV’s Official Challenge Podcast,” he said he went to film “Rivals” and during some of his time off he went swimming with a friend, who was his driver at the time because, “I couldn’t even drive yet, I could barely see.”

TJ said while his friend went surfing he went for a swim but he had no idea there was a strong undertow in the area. “All of a sudden it just took me out to the middle of the ocean and I was like miles out, not miles but like far, far, probably like 200 yards away from the shore. And I couldn’t get back in cause every time I’d swim back it just kept pushing me back.”

He said he had to tread water because he couldn’t return to shore and kept going until his friend returned to the beach and noticed TJ wasn’t there. He said his friend looked around and saw TJ’s “little head just floating out there.” The reality TV show host said his friend went out to get him with the surfboard and they rode it back to shore, but he said the experience was a “close call.” He joked that he “wasn’t thinking straight” because of his brain injury.

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