HGTV Stars Who Have Suffered Heartbreaking Losses

When it comes down to numbers, HGTV soars. The channel attracts 9.6 million viewers, on average, every single month (per Warner Bros. Discovery) and it's not hard to understand why. There's nothing more exciting than seeing Jonathan and Drew Scott transform a rotting 1920s cabin into a beautiful modern home, and Chip and Joanna Gaines' ability to revitalize whole neighborhoods is a sight to behold. Yes, viewers of this channel see the ordinary turn into the extraordinary every single day — but it's important to remember that the HGTV hosts are normal people when the cameras stop rolling and they clock off for the day.

Although some critics have claimed that shows like "Love It or List It" are fake, the hosts behind these HGTV shows are all real. They pay their taxes, they raise families, and they have pets like the rest of us. Unfortunately for them, they also struggle with bad fortune and loss like the rest of us. And so, behind some of the big smiles and bubbly personalities we see on our screens are broken people who have suffered from heartbreaking tragedies. These moments in time have changed the trajectories of their lives, and there's no doubt that these HGTV stars have really been through it all.

Christina Hall's friend died before she had finished her remodel

Christina Hall has been on the HGTV scene since 2013 and has battled it all — both on and off the screen. From difficult remodels to her bitter custody battle with her ex-husband Ant Anstead, Hall's life in the limelight has been a struggle. However, nothing has come close to the heartbreak she felt at the end of one particular job.

On February 9, 2023, "Christina in the Country" dedicated its episode to Dr. Jessica Waldron, the sister-in-law of Hall's childhood best friend, Cassie Schienle. In 2021, Waldron was diagnosed with ALS, a "progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord" (per ALS Association). Hall wrote on Instagram that Waldron's disease spread quickly. "By mid 2022, she lost mobility of her legs, had to use a wheelchair and began to lose feeling in her hands," she wrote. So, Hall and the HGTV team decided to work together to remodel Jessica's home in the hopes of making it more accessible for her.

Although the team worked tirelessly to complete the remodel, tragedy struck on November 3, 2022, when Waldron died at 39 years old. When the episode aired, Hall and Schienle shed tears as they remembered their friend and family member. During an interview with People, Hall confessed: "Although she never got to see her home remodel complete, it was her vision for her family and something I am proud to have done for them."

Joe Mazza temporarily lost his eyesight when he was just 23 years old

In January 2022, home improvement fans were given a brand new HGTV host to obsess over in the form of Joe Mazza. "Home Inspector Joe" helps families find and renovate their new homes, and Mazza makes no secret of the fact that he's a stickler for safety with a keen sense of smell. Amazingly, this heightened sense of smell is the result of a tragic health scare he experienced at just 23 years old.

Mazza wrote on Instagram that he lost his eyesight due to an "unforeseen condition in both eyes." He was diagnosed with keratoconus, which the Mayo Clinic describes as an "eye condition in which your cornea — the clear, dome-shaped front of your eye — gets thinner and gradually bulges outward into a cone shape." During this period of blindness, Joe's senses were heightened, which helped him immensely during his career as a home inspector.

"When I lost my eyesight, my sense of smell really got strong," he told Realtor. "And it works in my business because all I do is smell around a house, and it allows me to find issues in the home. It's pretty wild. I can walk into a house and be like, 'All right. We have a mold condition here.'" He confirmed in an Instagram post that he later had a cornea transplant to rectify the issue and restore his eyesight.

Chip and Joanna Gaines' goats were killed during a targeted attack on their property

Chip and Joanna Gaines' beautiful Waco home has been the envy of many people, and the "Fixer Upper" couple hasn't been shy about showing off the many aspects of their house on social media — especially when it comes to their outside space. Joanna regularly posts photos of their flourishing garden and their many animals, including their chickens and goats.

Unfortunately, the Gaines' lives were turned upside down in June 2016 when their property was the target of a horrific attack. Between the middle of the night and the early hours of the morning, two of the goats on their property were fatally shot by trespassers (via Associated Press). The goats were later found by employees, who immediately alerted Chip, Joanna, and the authorities.

As news of the terrible crime made its way into the press, the Magnolia Homes PR Director released a statement on behalf of Chip and Joanna to Country Living. "We're saddened and shocked by this senseless crime, and at the same time, so grateful for the outreach and support from our community," the statement read. Waco Texas Police Department Sergeant Patrick Swanton also revealed his sadness over the loss. "These animals were in a small, confined area. They couldn't get away from whoever did this. Somebody like that doesn't need to be out on the streets. We're going to do what we can to put them behind bars," he told People.

Ty Pennington lost a close friend and collaborator to cancer

With his backward baseball caps, his love of power tools, and his muscular physique, "Rock the Block" host Ty Pennington is often considered to be a Jack of all trades who puts his emotions aside. But he proved to everyone that he had a heart of gold in May 2023 when he announced the loss of his close friend and collaborator on Instagram.

Nancy Hadley was an esteemed artist who worked on countless television shows over the course of her career, including "Kitchen Nightmares" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." It was on the latter show that she first met Pennington, and the pair struck up a friendship that lasted decades. So, when it was confirmed on Instagram that Hadley died on May 9 after a tough battle with cancer, it didn't take long for Pennington to share his grief with the world.

Using multiple broken heart emojis, Pennington wrote: "I don't do well with words. Trying to express the positive impact a person like Nancy had on someone's life... impossible." He also spoke of the day they first met. "I'm so grateful for that day in California, when Nancy showed up as a volunteer, put on [an] EMHE shirt, and immediately became family. It's like she knew we needed her, not just her incredible talents but also her spirit," he confessed. Pennington also shared numerous throwback photos of him and Nancy in this heartbreaking post.

Carmeon Hamilton's husband died in a tragic motorcycle accident

Many HGTV stars are known for being the hosts of their own shows, but Carmeon Hamilton got her start when she won one. After coming first in "Design Star: Next Gen," the interior designer was given the chance to star in her very own show. She brought "Reno My Rental" to our screens in 2021, and she's since been greenlit to star in "Turn Your House Around," a brand new show due to drop in 2024 (per HGTV). This new project has probably come as a welcome relief for Hamilton, who went through a traumatic ordeal a few years ago.

On August 29, 2021, Hamilton confirmed on Instagram that her husband had died in a motorcycle incident. "I was alerted by MPD late last night that Marcus succumbed to his injuries after being hit by an intoxicated driver while on his motorcycle yesterday afternoon," she wrote. In this heartwrenching post, she also spoke about her deep sense of loss. "I'm now missing a major part of myself and that void seems to grow more and more every second," she confessed.

Just three months before Marcus died, Hamilton had posted a gushing tribute to her husband. In this, she confirmed that the couple were gearing up to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. In fact, they had even been planning to renew their vows, as Hamiton had written: "I can't wait to marry him all over again in a couple months!!!"

Nate Berkus' partner was presumed dead after a deadly tsunami

Nate Berkus is known as one half of the iconic HGTV duo, Nate and Jeremiah. Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent have become well-known figures in the HGTV world, hosting shows like "The Nate and Jeremiah Home Project," "Nate & Jeremiah By Design," and "Nate and Jeremiah: Save My House." And it seems that Berkus needed Brent in his life. He told People that his mother knew instantly that Brent was the one for him. "My mother said to me, when Jeremiah and I met, 'The light is back in your eyes,'" he confessed. Unfortunately, that wasn't always the case.

In 2004, just one day after Christmas, Berkus and his then-partner were caught in the devastating tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean. He had intended to have a relaxing and romantic Sri Lankan vacation with photographer Fernando Bengoechea, but the natural disaster tore homes and families apart. In a matter of hours, 230,000 lives had been lost (per the History Channel). Sadly, Berkus' partner went missing amidst the chaos, and he was ultimately presumed dead.

During an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2005, Berkus spoke for the first time about this terrifying ordeal. And in an essay he penned for People a few months later, Berkus wrote that when he returned home he would spend his days "lying in my bed, unable to eat, unable to string a sentence together." Thankfully, he was eventually able to accept his "new normal."

Mina Starsiak Hawk unexpectedly lost her sister-in-law in March 2020

Like many others around the world, "Good Bones" star Mina Starsiak Hawk found her life turned upside down when the coronavirus pandemic hit. The pandemic not only affected the filming of season five of her show, but she also revealed in March 2020 that she was pregnant with her second child. Traversing pregnancy in the midst of a lockdown couldn't have been easy, but Starsiak Hawk suffered an even tougher blow when her sister-in-law, Stefanie Hawk, died just over two weeks after she shared her baby joy with the world.

On March 27, 2020, Starsiak Hawk shared the heartbreaking news on Instagram. "There's no easy way to share this. Yesterday we unexpectedly lost my sister, Stefanie Hawk. She was such a bright light in all of our lives for such a long time. There is nothing to say that makes it easier or better, especially in this time where our access to loved ones and friends is so limited," she wrote. In this post, she also spoke about the complications of losing someone during such a turbulent time. She confirmed that, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, they would postpone the celebration of her life until it was safe to do so.

Starsiak Hawk later welcomed her daughter, Charlotte "Charlie" Drew Hawk, in September 2020. A few months after her arrival, the HGTV star posted a poignant message on Instagram about her late sister-in-law and her grief.

Jonathan Scott mourned the loss of his beloved pet dog in 2022

Anyone who has watched Jonathan Scott and his twin brother on "Property Brothers: At Home on the Ranch" will know that these two have a soft spot for dogs. "I grew up on a ranch. We always had big dogs. Labs and even a 200-pound Rottie," Scott revealed during an interview with Modern Dog. But in this interview, he also revealed that his preference for dogs has changed as he's gotten older. "With my lifestyle, you need to have a dog you can take with you. So my first dog was a Yorkie," he said.

When his first dog sadly died, Scott added two more small dogs to his brood. Both Gracie and Stewie used to travel everywhere with the property mogul and even stayed with him when he traveled to Canada and Vegas for filming. It was also extremely important to Scott that they bonded with his partner Zooey Deschanel, and her two rescue dogs.

However, Scott suffered a tough blow in November 2022 when he confirmed on Instagram that Stewie had died. As well as posting adorable photos of his late dog, Jonathan also penned a heartbreaking goodbye. "Said goodbye to my sweet Stewie today. He brought joy to my life for over 13 years and that will continue in all our fond memories," he wrote, with a broken heart emoji.

Nicole Curtis lost full custody of her son during a bitter battle with her ex

When Nicole Curtis disappeared from the limelight from 2020 until 2022, many fans wondered where and why she'd gone. Upon her return, the "Rehab Addict" star finally explained to People why she'd left. "I was completely burned out. There was so much time in those ten years where I didn't get to enjoy it at all. I was stressed out," she revealed. A few months after this interview, she seemed to backtrack on her return to HGTV, when she wrote a cryptic post on Instagram that read: "I made a call and said I'm done." And that's not surprising, considering how much she had going on at that point.

Curtis was pregnant during "Rehab Addict" and hid her pregnancy from fans while filming. Then when her baby was born, she was involved in a bitter custody battle with her ex, Shane Maguire. Their son, Harper, was born in 2015, but it took the former couple three years to come to an agreement they were both happy with. This agreement, which was first obtained by The Blast, outlined their physical and legal rights over their son, as well as more specific rules that revolved around their son's use of medication and their own use of words when describing each other in front of Harper.

But according to new court documents obtained by Heavy, Nicole is currently fighting changes to the custody agreement proposed by her ex.

Keith Bynum's mum died after a devastating cancer diagnosis

Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas are the duo that a show like "Bargain Block" needs. With an impressive fan base behind him, it should come as no surprise to learn that Bynum's followers were worried when his mom died in June 2022. After all, the HGTV star had revealed on Instagram just one month before her death that they had finally started to reconnect after years apart.

During a video released by HGTV during Pride Month in 2021, Bynum spoke for the first time about the struggles he faced with his family as a gay man. "It did not go well when I came out, so they have essentially disowned me," he said (via YouTube). "I just kept working, and Evan kept helping, have me focus on what we love doing, and it got to a point now where I realize it's their loss. It's not going to hold me back from having a fabulous life and being who I am." However, it was clear during the latter stages of his mom's life that they were working on rebuilding their relationship.

In August 2022, Bynum hinted at his feelings of grief when he posted a photo of his most recent painting on his art-based Instagram page. Alongside this picture, he wrote: "'Facing the storm'. The day I found out my mama had brain cancer I just couldn't do anything that day but paint. This was the painting. #artistherapy."

Christina Hall and her family suffered the loss of their beloved pet chicken

Over the course of her life and career, Christina Hall has suffered many losses. From the breakdown of two marriages to the death of her friend Dr. Jessica Waldron, she's been through the wringer. However, her whole family suffered a loss in March 2023 when the "Christina on the Coast" star confirmed that an important member of their brood had died.

Although Christina primarily lives in Newport Beach with her blended family, she revealed to People in May 2021 that she bought a vacation home in Nashville. "It's on 23 acres, super private and has everything I could imagine and more," she confessed. And in August 2022, Hall made their new house a home when she announced the arrival of their chickens on Instagram.

However, Hall revealed just seven months later that one of their beloved hens had been killed by a predator that had broken into the chicken coop. She penned a heartfelt message to the chicken, who was called Hennifer/Bennifer, with a photo that featured her husband and two of her three children. "Never thought I could be so attached to a chicken but this was one special chicken," she wrote on Instagram. "Bennifer was the only chicken who was eaten out of all 16 of our chickens. Ben you'll be missed."