A Complicated Goodbye to a Complicated Individual: Goodbye Ryan Knight

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Diem Brown wasn’t the only Challenge star lost this year. In fact, Ryan Knight was found dead on November 27th just 10 days after Diem’s funeral. Thanksgiving morning. But whereas the reaction to Diem’s death came with relatively less surprise (she had struggled with cancer for years in a relatively public way) Knights was much more of a surprise. Everyone knew Knight struggled with addiction and had several personal problems, but he always seemed to be carefree about life for good or for bad. While that sometimes meant he came across as a dick, it was just how he lived his life. No excuses and no filters. What was really sad to me, however, was the goodbye for Knight.

Knight and Jemmye were eliminated this week by Adam and Brittany in exactly the manner you would have expected. They worked terribly as a team all season long. Never put up an impressive performance and were on or near the chopping block every single episode. And that is more or less exactly how their Challenge careers together have played out for the entire duration of their time with us.

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Neither of them ever seemed like happy people on the Challenges. Knight was often portrayed as a carefree guy with a biting sense of humor but he really just came off like a dick. Especially where Jemmye was involved. The only time I can remember seeing the two of them happy was on their time together on Real World: New Orleans which makes it all the more sad to see Knight go out this way yet again.

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No Fairy Tale ending. No character redemption. Nothing. Knight and Jemmye were knocked out in the most predictable fashion imaginable, they fought the entire season (as they always do), and got knocked off the show fighting with each other. Moreover, they weren’t even given a chance for redemption in Exile as every other team has been given this year due to Knight’s recurring shoulder problems which he aggravated in The Dome.

And that, I think, is what makes me the most sad to see Knight go. I hate that the last thing I have to see of him is a 5 year old problem relationship, a decade’s old injury, and a lifetime’s worth of unhappiness. That’s all I’ve ever known of Knight in my limited experience with him. (Very limited because again all I’ve seen of him is the image MTV wanted to portray). However, he always seemed like a guy who needed help that either was never there, or that he wouldn’t accept even if it were offered. There were obviously many good sides to Knight. However, they were so often drowned out by his ‘carefree attitude’ that he really put himself in a bad light. But the only reaction I ever saw to any of this was “that’s just how Knight is.” He even embraced it himself, as you can clean from his self description on his twitter profile.

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In the end, MTV seemed to have the same opinion. They didn’t take the same steps to remember Knight as they did with Diem to slant any editing in his favor or make his sendoff more emotional. Now, a big part of this is probably that Knight himself didn’t give them a lot to choose from, but I still can’t help feeling that Knight was always in need of more help than he would ever allow anyone to give him.

Knight and Diem died just weeks apart from one another, but their stories couldn’t feel more different. Diem seemed to garner support and fans wherever she went. Thousands of people followed her story and drew inspiration from it. People seemed to flock to her. With Knight? He always seemed to be pushing people away.

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Much has been made of the tweet Knight left 3 days before he died. I have no idea if he actually wanted it to mean something or if it was just a throwaway statement as he was dealing with his friend Diem’s death. In the end, however, it seems to encapsulate his story in some way. Knight lived his life hard, fast, and loose, seemingly without regard for how he would be remembered. What mattered to him were moments as they passed, not the idea of moments yet to come. I think that helps explain at least some of the attitude we always saw from him on MTV. A rude comment one day never meant much to Knight. He just always wanted himself to be understood as much as possible in any given moment regardless of how his actions may have interacted with the sensibilities of others. If he offended someone, but got his point across he considered that interaction a success. That’s all he wanted. I really don’t think Knight was a bad person at all. I think he was just someone who always wanted to be understood, but was often frustrated in his efforts. But I’m sad to say I still don’t think I understand anything about Knight. I just hope he was really as happy in life as he looked when he was having fun, and not as frustrated as he seemed to be when he wasn’t.

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