Rich Piana was arguably the biggest name in the fitness industry. The guy was just massive, body wise and personality wise. He had over a million followers on Instagram, and regularly kept people updated with his life, posting YouTube videos for everyone to get a sneak peek into his life. Those videos are the main reason why he acquired such a massive fan-following over the years. They’re not your standard fitness videos that every Tom, Dick, and Harry seems to be making nowadays. Sure, they included snippets of his training regime and his diet, but they’re basically about him, and people just lapped them up. It was almost reality TV on YouTube, and with many of his videos lasting around an hour, people got a hell of a lot of entertainment. That’s the thing with Rich, he knew how to entertain, and he knew just what people wanted to see. The guy was a business man, a marketing genius, and used social media to grow his many businesses, to the point where, at his death, he was thought to be estimated to be worth around $2m.
With the muscles, the tatts, the fancy cars, the massive houses, and living that whole extravagant lifestyle, Rich epitomized the guy many people aspired to be. There have been controversial moments, but on the whole, Rich’s purpose was simple. He wanted to inspire people, get people motivated to improve their lives, not just in a bodybuilding sense, but life in general. He was an inspiration to millions around the world and will be sorely missed. But how did he die? Most people will instantly look at the guy and deem it to be steroids-related. There’s a whole lot more to it than that. This is what we know so far, so here are 15 tragic details surrounding the death of ex-competitive bodybuilder, ex-Mr. California, Rich Piana.
15. Absolutely Massive News
Firstly, I’ve got to try and emphasize what massive news this is. The guy was an absolute legend on social media, someone people flocked to at expos or when they saw him on the street. He was a celebrity in his own right, and the outpouring of grief from the fitness fraternity has been immense. Within hours of his death, the webosphere was inundated with reports and breaking the news, and messages of condolences from those who knew him. It’ a serious tragedy, because Rich really was the biggest and most successful guy in the bodybuilding industry. I’m talking bodybuilding as a whole here, not just the social media side of things. The guy was more popular than pretty much all the pros that are still competing. The fitness world is in mourning, and it will be for a hell of a long time. Many people have tried and failed to take the fitness world by storm, but Rich is one man who conquered. There’ll be an almighty hole left in the industry.
14. Rich Collapsed At Home While GF Was Cutting His Hair
Ok, so this news was something that broke pretty recently. When Rich was rushed to hospital a couple of weeks ago, no one actually had a clue what had happened. There were all kinds of conflicting reports, and gossipers of course took to social media to weigh in and stir the pot. This speculation and so-called fake news got everyone worried. Some reports were even surfacing that Rich had died in his house. But recently we got to know what Rich was doing that led to the emergency services being called. The baying public wanted answers, something to put an end to this fake news. The reports actually paint a pretty mundane picture. Rich wasn’t doing anything crazy as a lot of people thought. He was with his girlfriend, Chanel Jansen – who’s become as big a celebrity as Rich over recent years since they reconciled – at his house in Florida. She was apparently cutting his hair, and that’s when the accident occurred.
13. Possible Overdose
People looked at Rich, looked at the lifestyle he led, and instantly made a snap judgment, thinking something sketchy was going on. Rich was a very open guy, and he told it like it was, and had admitted that he’d partaken in illegal activities in the past. He’d even done jail time. But over the past decade he became legit. He owned multiple businesses and was raking in the cash, and was living a lifestyle of luxury. Plenty of people attributed this to drugs. People had this perception of Rich, that on the outside he was all flashy and flaunting his wealth, but secretly he was living a very shady lifestyle, one that included selling and taking drugs.
Now, those that knew him would trash these claims immediately, saying he was a bodybuilder through and through and lived a clean life. But who knew what went on behind closed doors, when the cameras weren’t rolling. Initial reports said that when he was rushed to hospital, it was because of a suspected overdose. An overdose of what? This wasn’t made clear, but due to evidence that was found at the scene, certain substances that were supposedly found in Rich’s home could have played a factor in his hospitalization and subsequent death.
12. Hit His Head
Ok, so we know Rich collapsed in his home. His girlfriend was cutting his hair when he collapsed. The details as to why or how he collapsed are still a little sketchy. Just after news came to light that Rich was in the hospital, bodybuilding personality and former world record holder for having the world’s largest arms, Gregg Valentino, posted a video in which he was divulging the info he’d gathered on the matter.
Gregg’s a guy who’s known throughout the bodybuilding community, he’s worked with all the top publications, media companies, and supplement companies, so he has a ton of contacts. He’s also in tight with a lot of Rich’s crew, people from his company. He was therefore able to come out and tell us that he’d received info from a source close to Rich, that Rich had slipped in his bathroom and hit his head. Apparently, it was a freak accident; Rich slipped, smacked his head on something, and was out cold, lost consciousness.
11. The Steroid Issue
Rich smacked his head and was out cold. But why did he fall in the first place? Gregg Valentino had it on good authority that it was just a freak accident. But he’s pretty much the only person who’s saying that. 99.9% of other people out there, other reports, are saying the medical emergency was down to one thing and one thing only – steroid use.
Of course, Rich Piana took steroids, it doesn’t take a genius to work that one out. But he’s never hidden the fact – not that he could – that he took them. He was actually very open about his steroid use, and even shared his steroid cycles, what he took, on social media. Taking steroids for 25 years is going to take its toll and it’s going to affect the body, that’s a given. That’s why it’s been very easy for everyone to put all the blame on his steroid use. Forget about the fact that he regularly had check-ups and was deemed to have a clean bill of health by his physician, it must be steroids!
10. His Girlfriend Was Instructed To Perform CPR
When Rich Piana hit his head, due to the sheer size of the man, there was a lot of weight that smacked onto the ground. You can therefore imagine the level of impact, the force behind that fall, and that major blow to the head. Rich’s girlfriend, Chanel Jansen, was there and tried to catch him, and attempted to break his fall. But as you can imagine, little petite Chanel had no chance of lessening the impact. When he hit his head, the emergency services told her to check that Rich was still breathing, but it seemed as if he was already gone by this point. That’s because, according to TMZ, the 911 operator instructed Chanel to perform CPR. But her efforts were futile and she was unable to revive him. But, when the emergency services arrived, the medical personnel on the scene evidently did something, because Rich wasn’t pronounced dead at the scene. He was around for a couple more weeks after that incident, laid up in a hospital bed, fighting for his life, but alive.
9. 20 Bottles Of Steroids And White Powder Found At His House
When you see Rich Piana, you think steroids. People were always going to jump to conclusions that steroids are what caused the incident and what ultimately led to Rich’s death. I say jump to conclusions, because the instant news broke of Rich’s hospitalization, there were no details. But pretty much every report still attributed it to the bodybuilder’s steroid use. The news broke and many reports said overdose, it was all because of an overdose, a steroid overdose is what they’re getting at. By the way, a steroid overdose doesn’t mean the same as, say, a heroin overdose for example. A steroid overdose refers to the adverse effects of steroids on the body over a prolonged period of time, not taking a massive dosage at once.
Eventually, more news began filtering through. TMZ Sports got wind, from a law enforcement officer, that emergency teams had been called to Rich’s residence because of a suspected overdose. When police arrived on the scene, they searched the home and apparently found 20 bottles of steroids, various testosterone-based compounds, and white powder. This white powder could be anything from baking powder to a hardcore drug, we just don’t know as of yet. And the steroids? This just proved that Rich was a steroid user, which everyone already knew. But that didn’t stop many media outlets using these findings to sensationalize their news stories.
8. Was A Massive 310lbs
Of course, we’d all be incredibly naïve to think that Rich didn’t have any health problems or any side effects that could be attributed to steroid use. Take steroids for over two decades, and there are going to be problems. But having said that, Rich never gave that impression, and never really appeared to be struggling with anything. In fact, he regularly got himself checked out, visited his doctor, had physicals, an array of different tests, and had a clean bill of health.
He documented some of these visits on his YouTube channel. But there is one thing that’s going to cause health problems, something he was aware of and didn’t really need a doctor to tell him. Rich was one seriously big dude. It’s thought he was around 310 lbs at the time of his death. Of course, it was all muscle weight, but that’s still going to put a tremendous amount of strain on his organs, especially on his heart. A source close to Rich, and a leading expert in the bodybuilding industry, Dave Palumbo, actually got wind that everything was down to a heart attack. That would actually make more sense. Rich had a heart attack, collapsed, and hit his head.
7. Placed In A Medically-Induced Coma
When the emergency services turned up at Rich’s home, apparently he was unresponsive. His girlfriend Chanel had been instructed to administer CPR, but they still couldn’t revive Rich, who was thought to have already been gone by this point. But the emergency personnel at the scene must have done something because he wasn’t pronounced dead immediately. Instead, Rich was placed into a medically-induced coma. This essentially happens when they’re running out of options. It’s done in order to give the doctors time, and also the patient time to heal. It’s carried out to protect the brain and give it a chance to heal, which it often does. At that point, when the brain’s showing signs of electrical activity, the patient’s gradually taken off the drugs in the hope that consciousness will be regained. Unfortunately, this didn’t quite happen for Rich. He didn’t get to that stage. Lack of oxygen to the brain meant that all brain activity stopped, and Rich remained unconscious before passing away.
6. Initially It Was Thought He’d Be Fine
Being placed in a medically-induced coma is obviously pretty serious stuff. Docs will only do this when it’s absolutely necessary. But there’s also a good chance that this step will eventually help the patient to regain consciousness. Bodybuilding personality Gregg Valentino got a lot of juicy info pretty much as soon as the incident happened. He was in close contact with a source close to Rich, and was told that everyone, including medics, believed that Rich was going to be fine. That’s somewhat puzzling considering Rich was placed in a medically-induced coma – what happens after that is normally out of the doc’s control. But Rich’s team were pretty confident that he was going to make a full recovery. But then again, they would say that. Rich’s team, his mantra, was all about spreading positive vibes, and so perhaps this source, and those close to Rich, were just carrying this on. Be positive, be optimistic, and everything will be fine. If only.
5. Was Unresponsive For Two Weeks
For two weeks Rich battled on, or should I say doctors held on, and gave him every possible chance to recover, and for his brain to heal. His girlfriend Chanel was by his side the whole time. She kept people updated, posted touching messages on her Instagram page. She too was confident that Rich would make a full recovery. She asked all those well-wishers to continue giving him their support. Chanel even gave people a number to call and leave their special messages. She told people to call and leave inspirational messages, stories of how Rich had affected their lives. Chanel supposedly played these for Rich, in the hopes that they’d stir something up in his subconscious, that it would spark something within him, and cause some brain activity. But it just didn’t work, Rich remained unconscious. He didn’t respond to any treatment, and in the end, calling a time of death was the only thing the medical professionals could do.
4. Girlfriend Said He Was “Alive And Fighting” A Week Before His Death
There was a reason for all those positive vibes while Rich was laid up in hospital. It’s because people actually had reason to believe that Rich would make a recovery. Jerry Ward, a bodybuilding and fitness personality and close friend to Rich, was in constant contact with Rich’s girlfriend, Chanel. Apparently, her post saying that Rich was fighting, wasn’t just pure optimism. According to Chanel, who subsequently told Jerry, Rich’s brain activity was showing signs of improvement. His brain was starting to heal, which is why a week into his hospitalization, everyone was confident that he’d make a full recovery.
But that didn’t last, and after a week, everything went downhill and his brain just ceased functioning altogether, which is when treatment was stopped and he was pronounced dead. The brain is still a largely unexplored area, but still, doctors were confident his brain had started to heal. Just as soon as it was on the mend, it stopped, and there was nothing anyone else could do.
3. Haters Were Lapping It Up
When it was revealed that Rich was in hospital, and when it came to light that he’d died, there was an incredible outpouring of love and support from his well-wishers, those intent of spreading his message and expressing their condolences. But there’s a downside to social media, in that it gives the lowest of the low an avenue to, well, just be plain evil. The dark side of social media was filled with awful people trying to get attention by spreading awful messages. Forget about Rich Piana, the biggest bodybuilding personality around. The guy was a person who had a ton of friends and family, all of whom must be distraught. He touched so many people around the globe in so many different ways, but still, the haters felt that it was an opportune time to post their vicious messages. A lot of people have also used Rich’s name to make money off YouTube videos, to get hits, and it’s all negative. Thankfully there are millions of Rich’s fans who haven’t been shy about letting these haters know what people think of them.
2. Ex-Wife Started The Tributes
I just mentioned how people use Rich’s name for money, views, followers, and popularity. Over recent years, it’s been thought that no one’s done this more than his ex-wife Sara. Actually, I say ex-wife, but they’re actually still married. She’s one of the most hated people in the industry because of what went on between the two. It basically came to light that she had married Rich for money, and to get a green card. Rich had discovered that she’d been stealing money from his accounts and was sending it back home to her native Iceland. Sara was never too popular with Rich’s fans, and after their inevitable split, she became a seriously hated individual. That’s why it was seriously puzzling that the first person to reveal that Rich had passed was Sara. She posted a message on Instagram, expressing her condolences, saying how saddened she was. It was puzzling that she of all people would be the one to reveal the news, posting the message, “Rest In Peace My Dear Husband.” Yeah, that wasn’t going to piss people off at all…
1. His Girlfriend Remained Silent
Sara revealed that Rich had died, and plenty of people found it rather odd that she was the one revealing this information. That’s why, although plenty of reports started to come out, all these reports were using Sara as a source, and so it wasn’t absolutely certain that he’d passed. People refused to believe the news, because Sara’s motives seemed a little iffy. No one in Rich’s immediate circle, no one close to Rich, confirmed the news. They were obviously in mourning, utterly distraught, and getting on social media was probably the last thing on their minds. But the world was eager to get a confirmation, and that eventually came many hours after his death, in the form of Chanel posting a heart-wrenching message on Instagram.
“I will always remember how much I loved holding his hand. I will always remember how I felt so loved when he would wake up and kiss me on the forehead. I will always remember how I had it great with the love of my life. I will always remember I was loved by the most amazing man I’ve ever known. I will always remember there’s a hole in my heart where he will always belong. I will always remember that someday when it’s my time – he will fill that space inside me and I’ll be whole again.”
A fitting tribute. RIP Rich Piana.
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