Joey Kovar dies: 'Real World,' 'Celebrity Rehab' star was 29
Joey Kovar, who starred in the reality shows "The Real World: Hollywood" and "Celebrity Rehab," was found dead on Friday, August 17.
The cause of the 29-year-old's death was unclear. The reality star was found by a friend at a Chicago apartment earlier in the morning and paramedics pronounced him dead on the scene, according to the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. Chicago Ridge Police said there was "nothing to indicate foul play."
For years, Kovar, a personal trainer and aspiring actor had battled addictions to alcohol and drugs such as cocaine, Ecstasy and methamphetamines as well as steroids. His substance abuse was a plot point on "The Real World: Hollywood," which aired in 2008. He at one point left the cast members' house and entered a rehab program.
"MTV is deeply saddened to learn that Joey Kovar of 'The Real World: Hollywood' has passed away," an MTV spokesperson told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "We offer our sympathies to Joey's loved ones, friends and fans."
Kovar later sought treatment as a cast member on Dr. Drew Pinsky's VH1 series "Celebrity Rehab" in 2010.
"Dr. Drew, Bob, Shelly and all the staff at 'Celebrity Rehab' are saddened to hear the news of Joey's death and wish to offer their sincerest condolences to his family and friends," a spokesperson for Pinsky told OnTheRedCarpet.com.
Muscle Wolf Productions had recently signed Kovar as an actor. The firm's co-founder Jared Degado was also a friend of the reality star and posted an emotional and tearful video message as a tribute to his friend.
He said Kovar had been on prescription medication to combat anxiety but that he had been sober from recreational drugs and alcohol, adding: "Whenever I've hung out with him, even when we were out at clubs, he was just drinking water."
"He was just a glowing person and then knowing all the struggles that he went through with addiction and just hitting rock bottom after having just having it all, being on 'Real World' and 'Celebrity Rehab' and all the club appearances he was doing, he was very open about the downward turn and all the bad decisions that he made and he wanted to be able to help other people by way of sharing his experiences," Degado said.
"He was such a great guy and a loving father," he said. "He's leaving behind a young daughter and to me, that's about the hardest part - that his daughter is going to grow up not really knowing him, just kind of vaguely remembering her daddy. Joey was an amazing guy so just keep his daughter in your thoughts and his family. I just hope his passing won't be in vain. I know he wouldn't want that either. He wants people to be able to learn from his mistakes."
Kovar's "Celebrity Rehab" co-star, Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr, died at age 44 in 2011. Also that year, "Grease" actor Jeff Conaway, who appeared on the reality show in 2008, passed away following a battle with pneumonia and sepsis.
Pedro Zamora, who starred in "The Real World: San Francisco" in 1994, passed away at age 22 later that year after battling AIDS. Frankie Abernathy, a cast member on "The Real World: San Diego" in 2004, died three years later at age 25. She had suffered from cystic fibrosis, a hereditary and chronic lung disease.