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‘Real World’ star Joey Kovar dead at 29

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Updated: September 19, 2012 6:07AM



Joey Kovar first gained national prominence as a muscle-bound, substance-abusing and sometimes volatile cast member of MTV’s long-running reality series “The Real World.”

The 29-year-old was found dead by authorities in southwest suburban Chicago Ridge about 9 a.m. Friday morning. According to the celebrity gossip website TMZ.com, which supposedly was tipped off by “Kovar’s rep,” the Evergreen Park native — also a musician and striving actor — was found bleeding from his ears and nose at a female friend’s home in the 9800 block of S. Sayre Ave in Chicago Ridge.

“There is nothing to indicate foul play,” the Chicago Ridge police department said in a statement. An autopsy is pending.

Authorities say Kovar’s last known address was the 2600 block of West 98th Street in Evergreen Park.

Booze, cocaine

On what is arguably his most memorable “Real World: Hollywood” episode, Kovar went on a boozy, coked-up tear through the house he shared with several frightened roommates.

“I don’t know where that guy comes from,” he told the Sun-Times in 2008, “that monster that came out.”

Halfway through the season, Kovar entered a 30-day rehab program for drug and alcohol abuse. He later returned to the series and took pride in staying sober.

“Whether you like me or hate me, whatever,” he told the Southtown Star in 2010. “But there’s one thing you can’t deny: it took some balls to come out on national TV, admit you have a problem and seek help for it.”

Among the many inspirational statements Kovar himself posted on Twitter is this one, issued Thursday: “Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce.”

In 2009, not long after seeking treatment in the wake of his “Real World” meltdown, Kovar checked into VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.” His episodes aired in early 2010.

“I’m manning up to everything,” he told the Sun-Times. “No more lies.”

Following his 20-day stay at Pasadena Recovery Center, where he met and mingled with such addiction-plagued notables as Dennis Rodman, Mackenzie Phillips and Tom Sizemore, Kovar pursued other showbiz opportunities and bared all for Playgirl magazine. The allegedly stolen shots were posted online prior to publication, leading to a legal squabble.

“RIP Joey Kovar my heart breaks,” Phillips tweeted after news of his death broke. “My love and prayers go out to your family.”

In a YouTube video, Kovar announced that he’d joined Muscle Wolf Productions, a company that featured bodybuilder-actors in movies such as “Psycho Street.” The actors also would appear at horror film conventions as the “Chippendales of Horror.”

Parents struggled too

Before reality show cameras captured his every move, Joseph Eugene “Joey” Kovar grew up putting on theatrical backyard wrestling matches (he was an aspiring pro grappler) and dividing time between his dad’s home in Bridgeport and his grandparents’ more stable one in Evergreen Park, according to the Southtown. The paper also reported that both of Kovar’s parents “struggled with drug and alcohol abuse.”

Kovar’s mother and grandfather couldn’t be reached for comment.

Kovar, who spent up to four hours daily sculpting his physique at the gym, reportedly began using steroids at age 19. Ecstasy and alcohol were next. Then came cocaine and methamphetamine. “I am a binger,” he told the Southtown during a period in which he claimed to be clean and sober.

When “normal people go out,” he went on, “they know when to stop. My problem is I can’t stop.”

Not that he didn’t try.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us,” Kovar tweeted Thursday, “are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Contributing: Mark Konkol



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