“Rest in Peace Champ”: Fitness World in Mourning Once Again as Yet Another Bodybuilder Unexpectedly Dies at 49

Published 01/14/2024, 10:20 AM EST

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Paraplegic bodybuilder Chad McCrary has left the world aged just 49. Born in 1974, the bodybuilder had passed away on January 2, 2024. McCrary had been a regular participant in bodybuilding competitions for over two years before an attempt at a long triple jump in motocross left his spinal cord snapped, taking away his ability to move and feel anything below his waist.

This did not stop him from continuing on his journey in the industry and serving as an inspiration for many who were dealing with injuries similar to what he had. Most recently, McCrary had placed ninth at the IFBB Dallas Pro, just a year after he had finished in the top 10 at the 2022 Mr. Olympia.


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As @bisandtris revealed in their condolence post on Instagram after the bodybuilder’s demise, McCrary had been “invited to compete at the upcoming 2024 Arnold Classic,” a testament to the greatness he had achieved in the field.

McCrary first began his bodybuilding career in 2000. Three years later he was persuaded by a friend to participate in a bodybuilding competition in Plano, Texas. When he came in ninth place in the competition he decided that even though he still wanted to be a bodybuilder he didn’t want to enter competitions anymore and took up motocross riding instead.

This decision ultimately led to the accident that would change his life forever. Six months after that accident in 2005, he decided to compete in bodybuilding shows in the wheelchair class.

After his tragic accident, the next three years of McCrary’s life would be spent attempting to regain his ability to walk, despite the fact that his doctors told him he never would again. Chad moved on to take the courses to work as an Army JAG paralegal. However, he was still devoted to bodybuilding and participated in competitions despite his wheelchair.

He came in at first place at the Heart of Texas Heavyweight competition in 2005.  The next year he also won first place in the Lone Star State competition. He also came in first place in the Arkansas State Championships. In 2008 he came in second place in the 2008 Wheelchair Nationals.

He is survived by his father, Ronny McCrary; his brother, Lance McCrary; and sister, Lauren Wahl. In a fitting tribute to his life, his brother Lance had said, “Chad was a very motivated and strong-willed man. I will forever hold him close to my heart. He will continue to live on through me and in the lives of everyone he touched. He loved the bodybuilders he competed with.”

Despite there being no concrete reason divulged about the reason for his death, many in the community were shaken, as McCrary is the latest of many bodybuilders and fitness icons to have died young. Several members of the community, while mourning the icon, also speculated about the ill effects of ster**ds being the reason behind the untimely demise. They let their thoughts flow in the comments section of the @bisandtris post. 

“Bodybuilding is not the same…” fitness community mourns Chad McCrary’s death


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Emphasizing the young age at which McCrary had passed away and the frequency of such incidents, one user wrote, “49 years old? This is happening too much!” Another Instagram user wanted everyone to understand how bodybuilding might not be as healthy as one believed it was. “Rest in Peace man. So sad. BODYBUILDING IS NOT THE SAME THING AS HEALTH AND FITNESS,” they penned. 

“Truly a great champion, you won’t ever be forgotten, RIP,” said a community member remembering the contribution McCrary had made to the sport. While another wrote, “Rest in peace champ,” one fan couldn’t help but give a reality check by writing, “So sad. But this happens too often now. The abuse of ster**ds has consequences..”


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As the bodybuilding world continues to mourn a life that gave it all to the sport, one can’t help but wonder what McCrary could have achieved with a run with his upcoming participation in the Arnold Classic and the Mr. Olympia. However, the sad turn of events snatched away the opportunity for the community.


Written by:

Pritha Halder


One take at a time

I'm Pritha Halder, your everyday spokon fanatic. Spokon is the Japanese term for sports manga and anime. Rather strangely, this was the root from which my love for competitive bodybuilding blossomed.
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Edited by:

Shubhankar Adhikari