TLC Stars You Might Not Know Died

The following article mentions mental health issues, suicide, substance use, and child abuse.

There is no other network out there that has given viewers a variety of shows that can make us feel so many emotions at once. Over the years, TLC has documented people from across the world as they tell their unique stories which have included struggling with weight, fitting in as a little person in an average-sized world, being parents to a whopping 19 children, and even extreme couponers. Some of the network's most beloved shows include "90 Day Fiancé," "Little People, Big World," "My 600-lb. Life," and for those who aren't squeamish, "Dr. Pimple Popper."

TLC has chronicled hundreds of real-life people who have found love overseas, overcome obstacles, said yes to the dress, and made viewers rethink their fashion choices. Remember fashion's favorite duo Stacy and Clinton from "What Not to Wear?" 

Sadly, there have been several reality stars who have died since appearing on one of these fan-favorite shows. These deaths might come as a shock to TLC fans, with 10 of the 14 stars listed below having come from the same series. Here's what we know about TLC stars you might not know died. 

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Henry Foots

In Season 1 of "My 600-lb. Life," viewers watched as Henry Foots shed over 400 pounds over seven years after having weighed in at 750 pounds when he started his weight loss journey. With the help of Dr. Nowzaradan, aka Dr. Now, Foots became a huge success story, but there were many hiccups along the way, including having to be resuscitated after his heart stopped during an excess skin removal surgery. He said in an episode (via Starcasm), "It was just like having an out-of-body experience. There was the light to take me to Heaven, [but], I wasn't ready for it."

Although Foots had much to look forward to, including showing off a new frame at his high school reunion after losing more than half of his body weight, the reality star faced more hardship. Click2Houston reported that in November 2012, Foots lost control of a shuttle bus after suffering a "medical episode" and struck and killed a pedestrian. Sadly, Foots died on May 16, 2013 at the age of 54, with The Cinemaholic stating that his death was not related to the bus accident or his weight. 

Sean Milliken

Sean Milliken appeared on Season 4 of "My 600-lb. Life" and was bed-ridden after weighing in at almost 1,000 pounds, per The Cinemaholic. Milliken relied heavily on the help of his mother, and the two moved to Houston, Texas so that he could begin his weight loss journey with Dr. Now. After getting the okay to undergo gastric bypass surgery, Milliken lost over 400 pounds.

In 2017, things took a turn for the worse for Milliken when he shared on "My 600-lb. Life: Where Are They Now?" that his mother had died. He stated, "They said she had renal failure, and she didn't make it. She passed away a couple of weeks ago, and I'm devastated, and I don't know what to do now because my mom was everything to me" (via People). Despite the death of his mother, Milliken shared that he was continuing to make progress with his weight loss but had to learn how to depend on himself. 

The Cinemaholic also reported that Milliken faced more difficulties when he lost his home and everything he owned to Hurricane Harvey. Sadly, his father, Matt Milliken, posted on Facebook that his son died on February 17, 2019. Matt shared (via Radar), "Sean was admitted to the hospital a couple days prior, because of an infection. Sunday he was having problems with his breathing, they were able to resuscitate him and a short time later his heart stopped." Sean Milliken was only 29 years old.

James King

In Season 5 of "My 600-lb. Life," viewers met James King, who shared that food was a comfort for him during his difficult childhood. King was raised by his father and barely knew his mother, who was an alcoholic. He had the chance to reconnect with her when he was 15 years old; however, she later died of liver cancer. During the day of her funeral, King learned that he had lost everything he owned after his house burnt down.  

King appeared to want to turn his life around when he met with Dr. Now. According to The Cinemaholic, at the start of his weight loss journey, King weighed 735 pounds, but toward the end of his story, he gained more weight and was 788 pounds. With surgery deemed too risky, Dr. Now discharged King. On "My 600-Lb. Life: Where Are They Now?," fans were shocked to learn that King gained even more weight and was 840 pounds but had eventually managed to get down to 600 pounds. 

The U.S. Sun reported that on April 3, 2020, King died from "kidney failure" after going into septic shock. He was 49 years old, with a source stating, "He weighed about 500 pounds when he passed away. He would have been proud of himself." 

Robert Buchel

Robert Buchel shared his story on Season 6 of "My 600-lb. Life" and would become one of three participants in that season to die. Before his death, Buchel came onto the show weighing in at 842 pounds, with hopes that he could undergo surgery to be able to meet his fiancée as she walked down the aisle on their wedding day. 

According to Starcasm, Buchel showed that he was making progress after losing weight with Dr. Now and also undergoing lymphedema surgery. In total, the reality star lost 340 pounds, but his surgery left him depressed and addicted to pain medication. Although he went to rehab for his addiction, he was not complying with his weight loss regimen and even refused to walk. On November 15, 2017, Buchel died of a heart attack. He was 41 years old. It was the first time in the history of the show that a participant died while filming. 

Buchel's fiancée, Kathryn, shared the news of his death on Facebook. "Rob had a hard life and in the last 2 months he finally had hope for the life he always wanted. This was a robbery beyond words," she shared, adding, "Rob suffered from never realizing how good a man he was and always felt inadequate and a failure. Thank you all for validating my love for him."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

James L.B. Bonner

James L.B. Bonner was featured on Season 6 of "My 600-lb. Life," where he had an addiction to food and alcohol. Bonner turned to food for comfort after the loss of his beloved aunt, and as he got older, developed an alcohol addiction that made him drop out of high school, per The Cinemaholic. Things only went downhill for Bonner when he lost his foot in an ATV accident in 2013, but with loving parents and his determination, the reality star sought the help of Dr. Now to get his life back on track.

At the beginning of his episode, Bonner weighed 642 pounds. With the help of his weight loss program, Bonner was able to get sober and concluded his story at a weight of 326 pounds. After the show, he continued to eat healthy and would post photos of his meals and motivational quotes on his Instagram. However, there was more to Bonner's story and an internal struggle fans did not see. According to TMZ, Bonner committed suicide in August 2018. He was 30 years old. Bonner was the second person to die in Season 6. 

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Lisa Fleming

Lisa Fleming's story was shown in Season 6 of "My 600-lb. Life" in which she shared that she was addicted to food ever since she was a little girl. Fleming stated that her mother would make her eat an unhealthy amount of food as "a form of punishment," including once having her eat an entire cake. She also shared that her parents' divorce and her brother's murder (which she witnessed) only worsened her struggles with weight. Fleming made the decision to seek help so that she could see her grandchildren grow up and so her children weren't burdened with constantly taking care of her.

According to The Cinemaholic, Fleming started her weight loss journey at 704 pounds, and although she sought the help of Dr. Now, she had trouble sticking to his program. Fleming did not make any progress with her weight loss, and so after six months, Dr. Now no longer had her as a patient. Sadly, in August 2018, her daughter told TMZ that her mother had died at the age of 50 and shared that her death was not related to her weight. She stated that since the show, Fleming was able to lose 200 pounds before she died. "At the end she was sick and her body was tired and her body just gave out," her daughter shared. Fleming was the third person to die in Season 6.

Kelly Mason

Season 7 of "My 600-lb. Life" featured Kelly Mason who came onto the show weighing in at 725 pounds and who also had serious health issues that included type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure, per The Cinemaholic. During the start of her episode, Mason shared, "My life is a nightmare. I feel trapped in my body. Every day is painful, every day is a bad day and walking is extremely difficult. Every step is torture."

Mason was determined to shed the pounds with the help of Dr. Now and lost over 200 pounds to qualify for surgery. After surgery, Mason continued to lose weight while in rehab and left the hospital with a total weight loss of 324 pounds. After getting discharged from the hospital, she shared, "It feels like the first day of a new life, actually. My plan is to stick to the diet, do physical therapy, occupational therapy, to walk in the neighborhood. To do what Dr. Now expects me to do. But with my heart not functioning the way it's supposed to, this breath could be my last breath. But I don't want to die."

Mason sadly died during the 10th month of her one-year story on the show. The reality star died of heart failure in February 2019 and became the second person from the show to die while filming, per Distractify.

Destinee LaShaee

Destinee LaShaee made history on TLC's "My 600-lb. Life" when she became the first transgender star to appear on the show. LaShaee, who was born Matthew Ventress, shared her story in Season 7, where she said in her episode, "I feel like all I'm constantly doing is just trying to escape all my depression and pain at this point. And food is the only thing I have to turn to to do that. But the thing that's saving me every day is also what's destroying my life now, to the point where I can feel is killing me."

According to People, LaShaee weighed just a little under 700 pounds and made one of the biggest transformations when she lost a total of 500 pounds after appearing in the series. The star proudly shared her weight loss journey on Instagram but had also shared a difficult struggle with drug abuse. According to Us Weekly, LaShaee's brother confirmed her death on Facebook in February 2022, although the cause of death was not confirmed. LaShaee had also struggled with mental health issues. She was 30 years old. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Coliesa McMillian

Coliesa McMillian's story in Season 8 of "My 600-lb. Life" was truly heartbreaking, as viewers learned that she used food to comfort her after losing her fiancé in a car accident and suffering a heart attack prior to appearing on the show. A mother to four daughters, she shared in her episode (via Us Weekly), "I wasted my life on food. Just the hunger and the need and the desire. It has taken over my life, and I am exhausted from this life ... It feels like my body is trying to give up, I can feel it, but I can't give up. I have to be here for my children."

According to The Cinemaholic, McMillian started her weight loss journey weighing 643 pounds, and with the help of Dr. Now, had lost close to 150 pounds. Although it was not enough for him to perform surgery, Dr. Now believed the surgery was necessary because of an intestinal blockage. However, she suffered complications, with TMZ stating that she was put on life support in March 2020. Although she eventually woke up, a Facebook post from her family stated that she was bedridden. TMZ reported that McMillian died in September 2020 at the age of 41, but her cause of death is unknown. 

Gina Krasley

In Season 8 of "My 600-lb. Life," viewers met Gina Krasley who shared that to feel less "abandoned" by a mother who was not giving her enough love and attention as she was giving her sister, she would eat to feel better. Her mother shared, "I was the bad mom. She would fight me to get food and instead of just saying no and dealing with the temper tantrum, I just gave in. I think I let her manipulate me 150%. So, for Gina, I carry so much guilt that it was my fault that she was heavy." 

Krasley said that she was often emotionally and physically abused by her father for acting out and would escape by eating food. By the time she finished high school, she was over 450 pounds. At the start of her journey on the reality show, Krasley weighed over 600 pounds and relied heavily on help from her wife Beth. According to The Cinemaholic, Krasely went to Dr. Now for help, but she was not approved for surgery after failing to lose the proper amount of weight. 

Us Weekly reported that Krasley died on August 1, 2021, with her obituary stating that her family was with her when she died at home. Her family has also asked for donations to be made to mental health charities. Before her death, she updated fans on her health on YouTube where she stated that she could no longer walk and had no feeling in her hands. As of this writing, it is unknown how Krasley died. She was 30 years old. 

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Yoji Harada

Fans of TLC might remember a show called "Miami Ink" which debuted in 2005 and followed five tattoo artists who opened up a tattoo shop in South Beach in Miami, Florida. The show lasted for six seasons and featured famous tattoo artists like Kat Von D and Ami James. It also featured Japanese-born artist Yoji Harada, who was James' apprentice and who later joined the ranks of veteran artists as he continued to improve his tattoo skills, per Pop Culture.

According to Inked Mag, Harada died on March 27, 2019. His untimely death was confirmed by tattoo artist Tommy Montoya who shared a black-and-white photo of Harada on Instagram and wrote, "Another friend gone!! so sad. rest In PEACE Yoji. you will be missed!" His "Miami Ink" family also shared news of Harada's death on their Instagram, writing, "We want to thank everyone who has posted, shared or written since Yoji's passing. It's been a week and it is still hard to find the words for how we're feeling. Losing someone you love is never easy, especially when it's someone like Yoji. He had a magnetic personality that you couldn't help but be drawn to. A character to say the least! Thank You Yoji for our laughs, cries and everything in between."

Since Harada's death, James has set up a Go Fund Me page with proceeds going toward Harada's daughter Sidney. It is not known how Harada died. He was 46 years old.

Jason Hitch

In Season 2 of TLC's "90 Day Fiancé," viewers met Florida native Jason Hitch who was eagerly preparing to meet Cassia Tavares, a Brazilian woman who was flying to the U.S. to be with him. The couple had a 15-year age difference, and when Tavares arrived in America, they often clashed over things like Hitch's financial status and her personality. Hitch said in an episode, "I don't think I'm going to sleep at all for the next 90 days because I'm going to walk around thinking, 'What am I going to do to keep her happy?'" Despite their issues, the couple ended up marrying before Tavares' 90 days were up.

According to Radar, the couple divorced in 2018, with Hitch stating, "A successful relationship is communication, physical attraction, and doing whatever it takes. Right now it's time to go in different directions. I think we'll remain friends." 

TMZ reported that Hitch died in December 2021 from COVID-19 at the age of 45. Tavares, who has since married a man named Giuseppe in February 2021, shared her reaction to her ex-husband's death on Instagram, stating, (via Life & Style), "It's always sad when someone you spent part of your life with stops breathing. I guess one could never be prepared for that. I wasn't today."

Gary Rathgeber

In Season 1, Episode 1 of "90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way," Corey Rathgeber left his home in Washington, sold his beloved car, and said goodbye to his entire family to permanently relocate to Ecuador to be with Evelin Villegas. However, he would sadly learn that his father, Gary Rathgeber, had died while he was gone.

The last time Corey saw his father was when he said goodbye to him at the airport before leaving for Ecuador. He shared in a touching post on Instagram, "My last moments with my dad. I had no idea this would be my last hug, conversation or time with him. It's so hard to watch and relive, but I also feel lucky that I will always have these last moments captured forever." 

According to Starcasm, although Gary died in January 2019, viewers did not learn about his death until September of that year, when news of his death aired on Season 1, Episode 15. Corey decided to fly back home to Washington to be with his mom, who shared (via Screen Rant), "He was sitting on the couch when all of a sudden, he got just really bad pains and he was pale and he was sweating. And we get to the hospital and we find out his pancreas had been inflamed." Monsters and Critics reported that Gary had pancreatitis and died "unexpectedly." 

Big Ed's dog Teddy

Fans were first introduced to Big Ed in Season 4 of "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days" where he was preparing to head to the Philippines to meet with a woman named Rose. The major step meant that he was also going to leave his beloved dog Teddy behind after having shared that Teddy was his "best friend" adding, "I cannot think about my life without Teddy. He is someone I can talk to, he's somebody that listens."

While Ed and Rose's relationship did not work out, Big Ed landed a spot on the series' latest spin-off, "90 Day Fiancé: The Single Life." In Season 2, Episode 11,  Ed shared the devastating news that Teddy had died after coming home from a trip to Mexico. Ed tearfully said in the episode, "I've had one of the worst things that could ever happen to you happen." He added, "I kept petting him, and he just kept looking at me that night like he knew he was going somewhere." Ed shared that Teddy died while he'd dozed off for a bit. 

Although viewers learned of Teddy's death in a January 2022 episode, Big Ed shared the news back in August 2021 on his Instagram.