Bodybuilder Snapped His Spine in a Motoring Accident in 2005, Still Pursued Wheelchair Bodybuilding Until His Death at 49

Published 01/22/2024, 7:35 AM EST

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Chad McCrary, a resilient wheelchair bodybuilder, passed away on January 2, 2024, at the age of 49. His journey, marked by determination and camaraderie, left an indelible impact on the world of bodybuilding. In 2005, a motocross accident had left McCrary paralyzed, but his spirit remained unbroken. He defied the odds, competing in wheelchair bodybuilding tournaments and earning recognition for his unwavering commitment. His story is a testament to resilience and strength, showcasing the true essence of a champion.

CEO of Mutant pays tribute to Chad McCrary

McCrary’s achievements were notable, from winning multiple NPC shows to gracing the Mr. Olympia stage in 2021, he did it all. His prowess in bodybuilding earned him an invitation to the 2024 Arnold Classic. But unfortunately, his untimely demise shook everyone. The reason behind his passing is yet to be made public.


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His Brother Lance McCrary took to his Instagram and shared a joint post with Jim McMahon, CEO of Mutant, a sports brand that sponsored McCrary. They expressed their deep sorrow in a heartfelt video tribute. McMahon highlighted the profound sense of camaraderie that McCrary brought to the athletic community.

“What I’m always gonna take away is just what we all got to experience, in our group at least, with him, is just the camaraderie,” McMahon reflected. “It’s always everything that all of us try to achieve in this life is having good friends and good camaraderie.”  

His brother said, “He was truly a bodybuilder in his Beast mode, his determination was unmatched. Yet he could make you laugh, and give good advice. Just an all-around good man.” McCrary’s impact extended beyond the world of bodybuilding.

According to bodybuilding oriented page BisandTris, his funeral, held on January 19, 2024, in Texas, was a somber occasion, marking the end of a remarkable journey. McCrary’s legacy lives on, not only in his achievements on the bodybuilding stage but also in the hearts of those he inspired with his resilience, laughter, and camaraderie.

The inspiring journey of the wheelchair bodybuilding beast

As a motivational speaker and licensed aviator, he inspired others with his resilience and determination. His ability to make people laugh and provide sound advice reflected his character as an all-around good man.

Russel McCrary’s bodybuilding journey took an unexpected turn after a tragic accident altered his life. Two years into his bodybuilding career, attempting a daring triple jump on his dirt bike in Louisiana, Chad suffered a severe spinal cord injury, leaving him unable to move or feel anything below his waist.

Following a week in the LSU Hospital’s intensive care unit, Chad underwent back surgery and a 90-day rehabilitation at Texarkana St. Michael’s. Despite doctors’ grim prognosis, Chad spent the next three years determined to regain his ability to walk.

Adapting to his new reality, Chad shifted careers, becoming an Army JAG paralegal. However, his passion for bodybuilding persisted. Embracing wheelchair bodybuilding, he competed for 11 years, winning championships like the Heart of Texas Heavyweight competition in 2005 and the Lone Star State competition in 2006.

The transformation that stunned everyone

Chad’s body transformation is incredible. Starting at 160 pounds with 15% body fat in 2000, he had reached 240 pounds by 2003, only to shed 45 pounds and achieve 4-5% body fat in preparation for a bodybuilding competition in Plano, Texas. Despite placing ninth, Chad decided to leave the competition circuit, briefly opting for motocross riding before the life-altering accident in 2005.

After the accident, Chad made a triumphant return to bodybuilding, competing in the wheelchair class to inspire others facing adversity. In the face of adversity, McCrary found motivation to continue competing.  During an interview, when asked why he persisted in wheelchair bodybuilding, he responded, “To try and inspire others. I was already involved in bodybuilding and just carried it over to the wheelchair.” Chad modified his workout routine to accommodate his physical constraints, showing that with determination, one can adapt and conquer challenges.

Chad’s impact goes beyond the gym. Actively participating in wheelchair bodybuilding competitions, he secured victories like the 2020 NPC Wheelchair Nationals and the 2016 NPC Wheelchair Nationals. In the IFBB Pro circuit, he achieved 3rd place at the 2022 IFBB Dallas Pro and 2nd place at the 2021 Dallas Europa Games. Additionally, he showcased his strength at the Arnold Classic in 2022, securing a commendable 4th place.

READ MORE: “Man That’s Scary”: Born With a Rare Heart Condition, Bodybuilder’s Open Heart Surgery Worries Fitness Community


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Chad’s resilience and commitment to making a difference in others’ lives shine through. Despite facing horrific injuries, he uses his mental and emotional strength to inspire those who have endured similar challenges. As a role model, Chad encourages people worldwide to pursue their goals relentlessly, proving that self-imposed limitations should not hinder success.

Chad Russel McCrary, the IFBB Pro, may be gone, but his legacy lives on, inspiring countless hearts. Despite his untimely demise, his impact on the world of bodybuilding remains a source of motivation. McCrary’s determination and achievements will continue to resonate, leaving behind a legacy that encourages others to pursue their passions and overcome challenges.

What’s your take on his journey filled with obstacles that never stopped him from following his passions? Let us know in the comments below.


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Written by:

Arpita Shrivastava


One take at a time

Hi, I'm Arpita Shrivastava, a fitness and bodybuilding writer at EssentiallySports. When I started college, my fascination shifted to combat sports and I began training for Judo. I did it for two years until an injury compelled me to step away from the mat.
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Edited by:

Smrutisnat Jena