The former Mr. California’s death was confirmed Friday morning in a Facebook post by his estranged wife Sara Piana.
“I’m in tears writing this that @1dayumay has just passed away,” Sara wrote. “I can barely believe this… I am so saddened & heartbroken that he didn’t make it.”
“I just want to say THANK YOU Rich for teaching me so much about life, whether it was the easy or the hard way,” she added. “We had our ups and downs but we sure had an awesome time in each other’s presence along with us fighting through some dark times together. You truly touched many people’s heart and helped so many!!! It inspired me in many ways to see the huge impact you had on people all over the world.”
She continued: “Rich, I hope you feel better now in heaven and that you’re up there healthy, smiling & telling everyone, ‘How it is, being REAL & doing your thing.’ Rest In Peace my dear husband.”
On Aug. 17, Jansen shared a health update about Piana — saying that he was still alive and thanking fans for their support.
“The world wide outpouring to send Rich voicemails and messages to have played or read to him is overwhelming! We can’t thank you all enough for your continued support during this time,” she wrote. “The only update I’m permitted to give at this time is that he is alive, he is okay, and the excellent medical professionals here as well as myself and his close loved ones are doing all we can to get him back to a full recovery.”
The athlete had a 27-year history of admitted steroid use — once saying that it was necessary to juice if one was to become a professional bodybuilder.
A police report obtained by TMZ Sports at the time of his collapse said that 20 bottles of testosterone were found at his home.
While Piana was open about his drug use, he maintained that he was “not bragging” or encouraging steroid use to his 1.2 million Instagram followers — many of whom are young men. Instead, Piana claimed he used his platform to educate those on how to use the drugs “properly.”
“You need to be aware, educated, and willing to do whatever it takes to remain healthy and keep the body healthy. Remember this is longevity. We want to be doing this in our 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s,” he continued. “I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life. … It’s important for me to live a long life.”
He added: “Bodybuilding is not my main objective in life. It’s just something I do on the side. So I would never in a million years risk ruining my health or ruining my future do to bodybuilding.”