TJ Lavin had back-to-back brushes with death. The Challenge host revealed in a new interview that he nearly drowned while filming the MTV reality game show just a few months after recovering from his 2010 coma.
Lavin, now 41, recalled on the Las Vegas radio show Flip the Strip that he decided to go for a swim in Costa Rica between takes for The Challenge. “I almost drowned out there,” he said.
“There’s a nasty undertow, and I went out into the ocean like nothing. Like, I was good, and I was like, ‘No problem. I’m just going to go out here and go swimming,’” the TV host recounted. “Before I knew it, I was, like, 100 yards off the coast.”
Lavin said the details are “pretty blurry” in his memory, but he remembers a friend coming to the rescue.
“He was surfing and he grabbed his surfboard and rushed out there and got me,” the MTV personality said of his unnamed savior. “He was like, ‘You’re way far out here, bro,’ and I was like, ‘I couldn’t get back in.’ … We rode the surfboard together into the shore and we kind of just had to go wherever we could, and it ended up in the rocks. It was just a mess. That’s the only thing I remember from Costa Rica.”
Though the incident occurred nearly a decade ago, Lavin jokingly added, “These things come in threes, so now I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Months prior to his near-drowning, the BMX rider — who has hosted The Challenge (formerly titled Real World/Road Rules Challenge) since 2005 — was placed in a medically-induced coma after failing to get his feet back on his bike pedals midair at the Dew Tour Championships in Las Vegas. He suffered brain bleeding, a broken wrist and an orbital fracture, in addition to a bout with pneumonia that developed during his treatment. He returned home that November after a month in the hospital.
“He is now walking, talking, eating on his own and is getting his sense of humor back,” Lavin’s mother, Barbara, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal at the time. “He has some eye issues and balance issues, but as the swelling goes down, we hope they will go away.”
The Challenge: Final Reckoning airs on MTV on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
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