With the passing of Mike Matarazzo still fresh on the minds of many people in the bodybuilding industry, I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss something that has been irritating me for quite a while now. I get that my opinion and position on this may not be looked upon favorably by everyone, but I get that a lot so I'm used to it.

I get it when people hear of someone passing and they offer up a statement about how sad it is. I think most people want to convey their condolences and show respect. This makes complete sense to me. I also get that some people simply say what they think they should say because not all of us really know what to say and might prefer not to say anything at all. That makes complete sense to me. However, in situations like this, I don’t think it's fair that people speculate as to why someone died or, even worse, speak in absolutes as to why or how someone died when it's nothing more than a best guess. I also don’t think that it's fair to “judge” how someone lived or the choices he made while living regardless of whether or not those choices may have been related to that person's death.


I'm not sure that it matters at all why or how someone died, but I do get that people are curious. In a situation like this where a well-known bodybuilder dies at a relatively early age, I also understand that some people want to know whether decisions made while that person was living the bodybuilding lifestyle contributed to his death and what part things like AAS played. Did they play a part? How much of a part did they play? Was it diet related? Was it completely a genetic issue because he was predisposed to a heart condition? There are a ton of questions. Questions aren’t the issue. That's normal. However, it isn't normal or fair for people to pipe up with statements like, “It's obvious that so and so died from AAS use” or “his diet of red meat was clearly the reason why he died so young—no one should eat that much red meat.” When did we all become so well versed on what someone did and how he lived his life? Does speculation give us more clarity and comfort in knowing that someone has died and there is a reason? Do we feel better if we feel that his death wasn’t just random?

I know an awful lot about nutrition, health, AAS use, and heart issues. I'm not a doctor and I don’t play one on the internet, but I'm well versed in these areas. My sister passed away in her sleep at 29 years old from heart issues that she was unaware she had. After her death, I had to look into our family history and see if I was vulnerable to a similar fate, so I do know a thing or two about nutrition and AAS and how they relate to potential heart issues. Still, I don’t dare speculate as to why Mike or anyone else has passed in this sport because there really is no way for me to know.


Too many people can abuse their bodies for years—sometimes decade after decade—and live a long, full life. Others, like my sister, don’t even make it to 32 years old. My sister never took a steroid in her life. Had that been me going out at 29 in my sleep, I can only imagine the speculation and “absolutes” that would have been discussed. Clearly, AAS would have been the culprit. You can take that to the bank.

More importantly than the speculation is the question, why is Mike's passing so sad? Is it sad for Mike that Mike passed away at a relatively young age? I get that it's sad for Mike’s friends and family. I totally agree. But think about it for a minute—is it really that sad that he passed?

Hear me out for a minute before you all start frantically typing blistering comments in the comments section. Do you know how Mike lived his life? I'm not talking about what you read about him in the magazines or the compliment that he gave you at a show you competed in. Did you really know him? Were you a friend or someone close to him who knew whether he was a happy guy living the life he wanted to live? Did he have great relationships with friends and family or was he a shit bag? Did he help people and not just in bodybuilding? Was he charitable? What did he do for a living? Did he come home to his wife and family every day and make a lasting positive impact on his kids? Did something he say change your life or empower you?

I ask all these questions because it's incredibly important to know whether he lived a full and happy life. When someone passes, we want closure, and many of us find solace in thinking that he's “in a better place.” Personally, I get satisfaction out of knowing that someone lived his life the way he wanted to live, not how the rest of us thought that person should live. We can talk until we're blue in the face about how he should've eaten better or he shouldn’t have abused his body, but that wasn’t our choice. It was his, and I'm pretty damn sure that he made educated decisions knowing full well the potential consequences. These weren’t decisions made once or twice. They were decisions made over the course of a very long time.

When someone passes, I try to relate his or her situation to mine. It's how I deal with death. I know that whether I decide to jump out of airplanes, work daily as a scientist with deadly diseases, or live a bodybuilding lifestyle, I'm living how I see fit. I'm a happy person and the people around me know this. I would not be the father I am or the husband or friend I am without the decisions that I've made in my life leading up to this point. If I go at a relatively young age, I hope that people don’t judge me or my decisions either.

I would like to think that Mike lived the same way. In reality, I tend to think that when we say someone’s passing is sad, we really mean that it's sad for us because that person had such a positive impact on us and the world of bodybuilding will miss him. How we deal with death is an individual thing, but in fairness to Mike or anyone else who passes, we should all be more fair. We should judge that person on the positive things he or she did and the impact he or she had on us and others. Analyzing how that person lived and the personal decisions that person made seems incredibly unfair. I’m not sad for Mike. I'm sad that not enough people live the way they want to—happy and on their own terms. Just sayin’.