James King: How Did My 600-lb Life Star Die?

My 600-lb Life’ on TLC focuses on the unique journeys of morbidly obese individuals as they try to work through a coveted weight loss program for healthier lives. The reality show has gained quite a huge fan following as it features several motivational journeys of people struggling to lose weight, which is always around 600 pounds. Throughout this process, they are guided by the well-known bariatric surgeon, Dr. Younan Nowzaradan AKA Dr. Now, who provides customized diet and exercise plans for every patient. Once they are able to lose the minimum required weight, they can qualify for the highly sought weight reduction surgery.

The show debuted in 2012, and since then, it has followed the journeys of quite a wide variety of patients. There are some who pursue it with high motivation, while others struggle more in the process. One such individual was James King, who appeared in season 5, episode 11. James’ story made a touching connection with the audience, so he gained many fans in the show. Hence, it is natural for fans to wonder what happened to him. If you’re curious to know more, here’s what we found out!

James King’s My 600-lb Life Journey

James King joined the show as the heaviest contestant ever at that time, weighing 791 pounds at the meager age of 49. He was born on June 2, 1970, and lived with his girlfriend Lisa, who was also his primary caregiver, in Paducah, Kentucky. He had become bedridden, was unable to stand, and could hardly move his legs, even for slight exercise. James was unable to control his eating habits and also developed a painful skin infection. Lisa had to manage the entire household, and eventually, even his youngest daughter sacrificed her schooling to take care of her father.

James felt immense guilt and said in his introduction, “Even though I still open my eyes each day, I’m not living life, because I’m just trapped in this bed all day.” He revealed that he wasn’t overweight as a kid and had good memories with his elder brother, living together with their father. However, he did have issues with his mother, who was an absentee parent, because of her severe drinking problems. He elaborated on his agony, saying, “I only saw my mother three times during my childhood, and she was drunk every time, so my dad took care of us.”

However, things turned difficult when his father remarried a woman who already had four children, and the new family of 8 had tough financial situations. They had very less food to eat, and thus, James began eating much more when he had the chance, gaining weight to become around 250 in high school. In a turn of events, James got a chance to reconnect with his mother and slowly developed a cordial relationship. Sadly, his mother died from liver cancer just a few months later, which devastated him once again.

Moreover, his depression deepened when he found that his family home burned down during his mother’s funeral. “We got a phone call that our family home had burned down, and I lost just about everything I had in a single day,” said James. From that moment, food became his only happiness and comfort, and all he wanted to do all the time, was eat. But his father did not give up on him, and guided him mentally and financially to join the show and get help from Dr. Now.

James finally gathered the courage to reach out to Dr. Now, especially after witnessing his father suffer from a health emergency. His inability to do much for his father made him feel guilty, and motivated him to push himself for weight loss. However, James had a hard time following the strict diet recommended by the doctor. He was seen to frequently crave more food and had several fluctuations in his weight.

While James dropped some weight under supervision, he could not hold that routine and instead gained back some more weight. According to what was seen in the show, James constantly complained about pain throughout his body but reportedly refused to eat the diet food. After some arguments and a lot of instabilities in his weight, Dr. Now could not go ahead with James’ weight loss surgery. Thus, his episode ended with him leaving the show without losing any weight, but instead gaining some.

James King Died From Kidney Failure

James King was sent back after the original episode with numerous diet, exercise, and therapy recommendations to lose weight by himself for the weight reduction surgery. However, he could not bring much change to his habits and returned for the follow-up episode with more gained weight. In the 2018 ‘Where Are They Now?’ episode, James was given another chance by Dr. Now to undergo a strict diet, but unfortunately, James could not show much difference in his weight.

The doctor even went ahead and called Adult Protective Services on Lisa as he supposed her to be the “enabler,” but the organization refrained from taking any action. Eventually, Dr. Now was seen to accuse Lisa of feeding her boyfriend unhealthy food, which led him to gain weight and develop swelling in his legs. When both James and Lisa denied the accusations, the doctor even suggested that James relied on hospital staff and food for 5 days to find the difference in his diets.

However, he refused to do that and so Dr. Now decided to send them back without any treatment. By the end of the episode, James’ weight went up to 840 pounds. Even later, when TLC checked on him, his weight did not improve much. Sadly, James ultimately breathed his last on April 3, 2020, at the age of 49. He passed away at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville and is survived by his wife Lisa, father, Donald Elwood King, four daughters, two sons, and 19 grandchildren.

According to reports, the cause of James’ death was kidney failure, which probably could have happened from septic shock, which is a widespread infection. James also had a history of such health issues, which was first reported in 2017, which said that he had to go to the ICU for sepsis, cirrhosis, and kidney failure. However, the reports also mentioned that towards the end, he had managed to lose some weight and had come down to 500 pounds.

His funeral home, Milner and Orr Funeral Home dedicated an obituary to him saying, “James was born in Elmhurst, Illinois on June 2, 1970. He was a loving husband, son, brother, daddy, and ‘poppy’ to his grandchildren. James loved sports, especially wrestling, hockey, and baseball. James’ favorite team to cheer for was the Chicago Cubs. His other hobbies included fishing and communicating to friends across the country on his CB Radio under the handle ‘Cracker Jack’.”

Read More: Is My 600-lb Life Scripted or Real?