Top 10 Reality Stars That Died Too Soon

Written by Q.V. Hough In reality TV, sometimes we’re reminded of just how real life can get. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Reality Stars That Died Too Soon. For this list, we’re focusing on well-known individuals that passed away after appearing on reality TV. Special thanks to Michael T. Simpson for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Reality+Stars+that+died+too+soon
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In reality TV, sometimes we’re reminded of just how real life can get. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Reality Stars That Died Too Soon.

For this list, we’re focusing on well-known individuals that passed away after appearing on reality TV.

#10: Rachel Brown
“Hell’s Kitchen” (2005-)

In the 2006 season of Gordon Ramsay’s culinary competition, contestants hoped to secure a lucrative Las Vegas gig. Among them was 39-year-old Rachel Brown, who was eliminated in episode five. In his trademark fashion, Ramsay was hard on her, but as Rachel told IGN in a post-elimination interview, he didn’t make her feel singled out. In fact, she seemingly found his style to be relatively normal by kitchen standards, stating: “he’s demanding, as he should be.” Sadly, the next year, in May 2007, the behind-the-scenes narrative took a dark turn, when Brown was tragically found dead in her family home in Bedford, Texas, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

#9: Valerie Fairman
“16 and Pregnant” (2009-)

In 2010, Valerie Fairman was featured on this popular MTV series. Because of the format of the show, she only appeared in one episode, but her family claims that her time on TV “went to her head.” Known to act out before her MTV appearance, in the years that followed, Valerie had numerous run-ins with the law, including a 2015 arrest for prostitution. Despite attempts to turn her life around and multiple trips to rehab, she ultimately passed away from a reported overdose in 2016 at age 23. She left behind a seven-year-old daughter named Nevaeh.

#8: Angela ‘Big Ang’ Raiola
“Mob Wives” (2011-)

Known for her larger-than-life persona and “Big Ang” moniker, this New York native lived a colorful life even before appearing on reality TV. So, when “Mob Wives” came calling for Angela Raiola, she was primed for a breakout performance. Big Ang evolved into a series mainstay, earned herself not one but two spin-offs, and even crossed over into feature film with a cameo in “Scary Movie 5.” Sadly, less than five years into her reality TV career, Angela’s health rapidly declined. Cancerous tumors were discovered, ultimately leading to her death at age 55. But in the world of reality TV, Big Ang remains one of the more memorable personalities.

#7: Michael Johns
“American Idol” (2002-16)

Born and raised in Perth, Australia, this crooner established a loyal fan base during his time on “American Idol” Season 7. As one of the finalists, Michael Johns proved to have commercial appeal and the musical versatility to back it up. While he didn’t achieve immense success after his reality TV experience, Johns was still widely considered one of the more popular series contestants. And so, his sudden 2014 death came as a surprise to the “American Idol” community, when he passed away at only 35 due to a condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy. When the 2016 series finale brought back a variety of past contestants, his presence was sorely missed.

#6: Simone Battle
“The X Factor” (2011-13)

Before auditioning for the American version of “The X Factor,” this entertainer appeared on Network television shows like “Zoey 101” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” She also danced in Cali Swag District’s music video for “Teach Me How to Dougie”. After impressing Simon Cowell and company on this FOX reality series, the multi-talented and naturally charismatic Simone Battle seemed destined for success. And sure enough, she was later selected as one of the original members for Robin Antin’s group “G.R.L.” Sadly, less than two months after the release of their debut album, Simone Battle succumbed to her personal demons and took her own life, reportedly distraught over financial problems.

#5: Gia Allemand
“The Bachelor” (2002-)

On Season 14 of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” this Queens native came fairly close to winning Jake Pavelka’s heart. Gia Allemand then went on to appear on the spin-off series, “Bachelor Pad” alongside some other past contestants, before settling into a relationship with NBA player Ryan Anderson. Unfortunately, when things soured between the two of them, and personal issues added to her pain, Gia called her mother and then proceeded to take her own life by hanging. She was still alive when Anderson found her, but was later tragically pronounced brain dead.

#4: Joey Kovar
“The Real World” (1992-)

When this Chicagoan appeared on “The Real World: Hollywood,” he proved to be one of the series’ most explosive castmates. In fact, Joey Kovar was ultimately asked to leave and seek help, and not long after, he was cast on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.” Sadly, his acting career never got the chance to take off, and his story came to a sad end when he succumbed to his addiction. At only 29 years of age, Joey Kovar became the third “Real World” cast member to pass away, following the untimely death of 25-year-old Frankie Abernathy, who, during her time on the show, helped bring attention to the condition that ultimately took her life - Cystic Fibrosis.

#3: Shain Gandee
“Buckwild” (2013)

In 2013, this West Virginian was featured on MTV’s reality series “Buckwild.” Not only was Shain Gandee a refreshing break from the often image-conscious stars of reality TV; he also quickly became the show’s most compelling cast member. Unfortunately, less than two months after the season finale, Shain and two others were found dead after a “mudding” trip went horribly wrong. The death of this 21-year-old marked a significant moment in reality TV. Gandee was known for “livin’ hard” and the camera loved it. Although his rough and tumble way of living came naturally to him... it ultimately cost him his life, leaving family, friends and fans alike struggling to process the loss.

#2: Christina Grimmie
“The Voice” (2011-)

During her teenage years, this vocalist earned a loyal YouTube following thanks to her impressive cover songs. So when Christina Grimmie later appeared on the NBC’s “The Voice,” she was primed to make the spotlight her own. Not only did Christina manage to finish in 3rd place; she also she truly stunned the judges, earning offers and plenty of media attention. On June 10, 2016, Christina invited fans to her Orlando show, and it seemed to be just another night. But in a tragic turn of events, the 22-year-old musician became yet another victim of gun violence when she was shot and killed by a crazed fan while signing autographs.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

- Ahmad Givens
“Real Chance of Love” (2008-09)

- Mark Balelo
“Storage Wars” (2010-)

- Caleb Bankston
“Survivor” (2000-)

#1: Phil Harris
“Deadliest Catch” (2005-)

Although Phil Harris had long been a respected fisherman, he became somewhat of a legend thanks to the exposure on “Deadliest Catch.” Year after year, viewers tuned in to watch Captain Harris navigate through extreme situations. Unfortunately, his fans would discover the all too real dangers of Phil’s line of work when a random mishap severely injured the man. In Season 6, Phil’s struggles were further documented, leading to one of reality TV’s most heartbreaking moments, when Harris suffered a stroke that ultimately resulted in his death. The Cornelia Marie lost its captain, and reality TV lost a truly beloved star.

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