The tragic story of My 600-lb Life star James King

Star of TLC's My 600-lb Life, James King, died at age 49 on April 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., the network confirmed via Twitter. "TLC was deeply saddened by the loss of James King, who shared his weight-loss journey on My 600lb Life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time," the message read.

King first appeared on Season 5 of the series in 2017, when he was 46 and weighed 791 lbs. The show chronicled the reality star's efforts to slim down, as well as his health struggles, which included sepsis and cirrhosis of the liver. King was reportedly 840 lbs by 2018, a setback that was explored in the spin-off show, My 600-Lb. Life: Where Are They Now?, as Hollywood Life noted.

The Kentucky resident's obituary reveals he had a large family, including his wife, Lisa King, and six children: daughters Carrie, Krystle, Courtney, and Bayley, and sons Daemian and Austin. He was also the proud "poppy" to 19 grandchildren.

Sadly, King leaving many loved ones behind isn't the only tragic detail of his life story. 

The tragedies that drove James King to a dark place

James King (pictured above as a child), had a difficult upbringing, starting with his mother's alcoholism. King revealed during an episode of My 600-lb Pound Life that his father raised him and his brother due to their mom's struggle, and he only saw her "three times" during his childhood. "She was drunk every time," he said. 

Once King's father got remarried to a woman with four kids of her own, the family went from having "what they needed" to "being really poor," he explained. The TLC star never knew whether they'd have enough food, so he started to overeat as a coping mechanism. He referred to food as being his "joy and safety," leading him to gain weight quickly.

Things took a turn for the worse at 15, when King reunited with his biological mother, only to lose her months later to liver cancer. The loss was tough on the Illinois native, as he "never got the chance" to fully reconnect with his mom. Then, as they were burying King's mom, the family got a phone call that their house had burned down in a fire. "I just lost about everything I had in a single day," he said.

King lost the ability to manage his relationship with food, and his life spiraled from there. 

Unfortunately, King isn't the only TLC star who lost his life in recent years — My 600-Lb. Life's Sean Milliken passed away at 29 in 2019.