A training partner, roommate, and close friend, Stanimal De Longeaux speaks on Shawn Rhoden’s passing.

The bodybuilding world went into complete shock after news of Shawn Rhoden’s tragic death made headlines. Rhoden was a pro bodybuilding legend, Mr. Olympia champion, and a figure followed by controversy up to his passing. As of the time of this writing, there has been no medical announcement regarding the cause of his death – leaving bodybuilding fans to speculate based on comments made by those close to him. We had the opportunity to reconnect with Stanimal De Longeaux – a longtime close friend, training partner, and even roommate to Rhoden. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Stanimal opens up completely about Shawn Rhoden’s death and the events leading up to his tragic passing.

For quite some time, Stanimal De Longeaux has been a bodybuilder often seen with Shawn Rhoden. They were often seen together in training video updates on social media – as well as our digital series All Eyes On Olympia starring Stanimal’s pro bodybuilding prep. He also appeared in training sessions in the feature film Flexatron: Becoming Shawn Rhoden – a documentary chronicling Rhoden’s rise to winning the Mr. Olympia in 2018. But beyond just caught on film – anyone who knew either Shawn Rhoden or Stanimal understood that they held a close friendship. Before his much-too-soon passing, they were even roommates.

So of course it goes without saying that the shocking death of Shawn Rhoden hit Stanimal very hard. He not only lost a legend in the sport like all of us in the industry. And he not only lost a training partner. Stanimal lost a close friend. While challenging to reflect on, Stanimal was open to speaking about Rhoden and his passing during our most recent video interview.

Stanimal seems to make it clear that while his death was shocking for even those closest to him – in retrospect there were warning signs cropping up over the past two years. Most notably, Stanimal reveals that Rhoden likely suffered a heart attack in 2020 as well. First a smaller “silent heart attack that left him feeling weak and sick – only to give way to a more severe heart attack a few weeks later. He was hospitalized and recovered. After this moment, he became much more focused on monitoring his health.

Sadly, a year later Shawn Rhoden would pass away. While it was not officially or medically announced that he died from a heart attack – this is the most commonly held speculation. Given his past struggles with heart attacks in 2020, this would seem likely. Though Stanimal himself is not 100% sure – as to his knowledge an autopsy was not conducted.

While pure speculation, Stanimal ultimately believes that a variety of factors came together to create a sort of “perfect storm” that led to Rhoden’s passing.

“Honestly, it’s only speculation but it seems like it was just a perfect storm,” Stanimal states in our interview. He continues:

“He was doing a lot, he had like some pre-existing condition. He was traveling. He was tired. Stress. It was late at night, that’s usually when a heart attack happens. And then he got some type of sickness that I think I got after him. And that was pretty hard even for me who was healthy so I can’t even imagine… It was some type of flu but not COVID because he got tested and he was negative. I got tested and was negative.”

Stanimal went on to speak in even more detail about the stress factors that were weighing on Shawn Rhoden over the past two years:

“I mean he was stressed. It was a lot of things to be honest. Of course his case which kept dragging because of Covid. He was supposed to have another hearing in September and that got postponed because they didn’t have enough staff. I mean, he also broke up with his wife. That was stressful… he was somebody who was never really outspoken about his own issues, his own struggles. That’s why I think it was really bad because we talked a lot about all of this stuff his last few months… just the fact that he was speaking about this all so much just shows, I think to me, how much this was on his mind. It was definitely a lot of stress.”

Stanimal goes into great detail not only discussing the specifics of the year leading up to his death – but also celebrating his life. It’s a conversation that might provide some answers to fans in the sport. But more than that it’s a personal account and touching tribute to an athlete who left us far too soon.

It was an emotional conversation and one we hope brings more light to the man behind the muscle and the tragedy of his passing. You can watch Stanimal speak openly about Shawn Rhoden’s passing in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.