Biggest Loser Stars You Might Not Know Died

Between its runs on NBC and USA Network, the weight-loss reality show "The Biggest Loser" has been running for over 15 years — audiences seemingly cannot get enough of seeing the contestants' 30-week journeys of physical, mental, and emotional determination toward transformation. Even though the series has been subjected to controversy due to its extreme exercise and eating methods, many viewers can find themselves immersed in the competitors' lives by supporting their motivations to win, but also rooting for them to follow more well-balanced lifestyles post-competition. 

While we often hear about how "The Biggest Loser" contestants go on to navigate their new lives juggling work, family, and fitness, you might not know that some fan-favorite competitors have sadly died since appearing on the TV competition. Out of 18 seasons, as of this writing, five former contestants have passed away from various causes. Below, we will reflect on their experiences in their respective seasons, ranging from their inspirational personal journeys and their friendships with other contestants, as well as commemorate these stars' interests, characteristics, and lasting legacies among their families and the many lives they have touched.

Daniel Wright

In October 2017, Daniel Wright — who appeared on both Seasons 7 and 8 of "The Biggest Loser" — was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, before undergoing two years of maintenance chemotherapy, per Us Weekly. Both he and his wife, Rebecca Wright, had taken a leave from work throughout this ordeal, which unfortunately caused medical expenses to pile up. Considering their dire living circumstances, they received an outpouring of support through Daniel's GoFundMe.

Following a relapse in December 2018, Daniel tragically died at only 30 years old in May 2019. Several of his former contestants took to social media to pay their respects. The winner of Season 8 Danny Cahill, for example, took to Facebook to fondly reminisce on Daniel's character. "He never missed a chance to double back and encourage every soul in the fight of their lives to keep going, and ensure us we would make it," Cahill wrote in part.

The reality show's producers also chimed in with kind words. "Daniel Wright epitomized what it means to be a contestant on 'The Biggest Loser,' inspiring millions of viewers when he was on the show and many more with his recent battle with cancer," they stated (via People). "Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Rebecca and their extended family and friends."

Damien Gurganious

Damien Gurganious appeared on Season 7, "The Biggest Loser: Couples 2," with wife Nicole Brewer Gurganious in 2009. According to Today, the two were engaged during the show, but both of them were eliminated from the competition in the third week. They married not long after the season concluded, and while Damien was sent home early, he managed to lose 136 pounds by the competition's finale.

In a Facebook post shared by Nicole, she stated that Damien had sadly passed away at age 38 in November 2014. "Damien suffered from the sudden onset of a rare autoimmune disorder, Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), which caused inoperable bleeding in his brain," Nicole wrote in part, later adding, "Damien always desired to bring out the best in those around him by offering encouragement, support and love, often couched in his own hilarious and sage adages."

Damien's family offered more public condolences. "He was a pillar of his family, an amazing son, brother, cousin and uncle," his family stated (via Us Weekly). "He was an incredible husband and father to his two-year old daughter, Giselle. He was an inspiration and a mentor to so many. His love for his family and friends was immense."

Poppi Kramer

Poppi Kramer won the third season of "The Biggest Loser" in 2006 and was also the first woman in the competition's history to take home the $50,000 prize. Even though she lost 117 pounds by the end of the season, Kramer later described how difficult it was to keep her weight at bay, per "I kept the weight off for about seven years," Kramer once said. "I kept it off by keeping my calorie intake at about 1,800 and working out two and a half hours a day. That did quite a number on my body. For me, it was a struggle the entire time. Maintenance was definitely the hardest part."

Unfortunately, Kramer died of a heart attack at the age of 46 in July 2018. As an avid entertainer in the New York nightlife scene, she received tributes from her fellow performers. "RIP Poppi Kramer, 46, comedian, singer, loudmouth, dieter, kvetcher, Mets fan, Jewess, nightlife institution, friend," theater critic Adam Feldman, for example, tweeted. "I thought she'd never leave. I can't believe she's gone."

Blaine Cotter

Blaine Cotter appeared on Season 7's edition of "The Biggest Loser: Couples" and was eliminated in Week 6 due to his decision to take care of his newborn son waiting at home. Cotter initially started the competition knowing his wife, Jennie Lynn Comstock, was pregnant because he wanted to extend his life expectancy. "I may miss the birth of my child ... but it's a matter of living past his birth and birth of his children," Cotter explained (via Diets in Review). He started the season at 365 pounds and lost 66 pounds on his journey. With his teammate, Dane Patterson, staying for the remainder of the competition, Cotter jokingly referred to himself as the "overbearing, loud-mouth cousin" of the pair.

Per his obituary shared on Tribute Archive, Cotter suddenly died at age 40 following a brief illness in August 2020. Survived by his wife and their four children, Cotter was described as an educational employment advisor who had a love of teaching and training. As his loved ones stated in Cotter's obituary, "Our family is heartbroken at losing a man so beloved and so firm in spirit and testimony. Through many health difficulties his soul and laughter remained bright. We rejoice knowing he is welcomed by loved ones on the other side, and that we can be with him again."

Darrell Hough

Darrell Hough appeared on Season 9, "The Biggest Loser: Couples 3," with his daughter, Andrea Hough, in 2010. In an interview around this time with Digital Spy, Darrell described his experience on the show, as well as his relationship with fitness and health. "I had watched lots of episodes and I anticipated that all the pain and anguish I saw was for real. I didn't understand the impact on my body," he said. "Being a couch potato — when you're sitting in that position — you think you can conquer anything, so watching on TV was not enough to prepare me for what was going on at the ranch."

Darrell, who lost up to 140 pounds at the time of his post-elimination interview, sadly died in his Michigan home in January 2021 at the age of 57. According to a GoFundMe campaign set up to help cover medical expenses, he had been diagnosed with stage 4 bone cancer the previous September. Survived by his wife of nearly four decades, Karolee J. Thomas, and their two children, Darrell's family remembered him for his interests in motorcycles and gunsmithing, and his love for spending time with his relatives, per his obituary shared by Stark Funeral Professionals.