T. J. Lavin is an American BMX dirt veteran and former X Games gold medalist who became a TV presenter for MTV’s reality series ‘The Challenge’ in 2005.
T. J. Lavin was born Thomas Joseph Lavin GQ on Thursday, December 7, 1976 (age 45 years; as of 2021), and he hails from Las Vegas, US. He did his schooling at Clark High School and Durango High School, both in Las Vegas. One of the pioneers of dirt bike racing, Lavin started riding BMX bikes when he was three.
Soon after developing his BMX racing skills, he discovered dirt jumping. The sparks of his interests were brewed watching his neighborhood kids performing stunts on their BMX bikes. For amusement, Lavin and his friends would drive for hours to reach Lake Mead, where they used to set up a ramp and do backflips in water. Nick Herda, the owner of the now-defunct local store Herda Discount Appliance, noticed Lavin’s capabilities and became his first sponsor and mentor during his teenagehood. In an interview, T. J. Lavin talked about Nick Herda and said,
He really took me under his wing, and he financially helped me get to contests.”
In an interview, Lavin revealed that he had a mind for business since childhood. At school, he used to sell chewing gum valued at 25 cents for a dollar.
Las Vegas Weekly Height (approx.): 6’
Las Vegas Weekly Weight (approx.): 82 kg (181 lbs)
Hair Color: Dark Brown
Eye Color: Light Gray
Parents & Siblings
T. J. Lavin’s father worked as a craps pit boss at some of the finest hotels in Las Vegas like Dunes, Treasure Island, and Bellagio. When TJ was filming for the show The Challenge: Final Reckoning (2018) in South Africa, his father died due to stage 4 cancer. Instead of getting carried away by emotions and returning home, the dedicated host stayed and filmed the season for a month before returning home for the second funeral. In an interview, TJ recalled his father’s last words and said,
My dad’s last words to me were: “TJ, go to work.”
His mother, Barbara Lavin, worked as a card dealer at Bally’s, Las Vegas. His sister’s name is Brooke Lavin.
On his Instagram account, he posted a picture of his stepfather, Jim, with a caption that read,
This badass guy took my sister @thelavingirls and I early on in our lives. He didn’t say much but what he did say was always funny and he showed us even more. He continues to show his support ALL the time never wavering. Great person my “stepdad” Jim.. love ya man”
Wife & Children
On November 2, 2012, after eight years of relationship, T. J. Lavin got married to Roxanne Siordia, who is a personal trainer, pilates instructor, nutritionist, and runs a health & wellness website ‘All Things Plant Based.’ She is also a travel and fitness blogger, who runs the blog ‘Eat Well Live Pretty.’
Although TJ doesn’t have any kids of his own, he formally adopted Roxanne’s daughter, Raquel, from her previous relationship. Raquel Lavin is a trained cosmetologist and hairstylist.
His first job was at an ice cream shop at the age of fifteen. At sixteen, he worked at a nut and bolt factory.
Lavin began competing in BMX races and trick events at the age of fifteen. He was sponsored by Herda. By 19, he became a professional dirt-jumping BMX rider and also won ABA King of Dirt, his first pro contest, in 1995. For the following few events, he was taken under the wing by the sponsor S&M Bikes. He rose to fame when he started participating in the annual extreme sports event ‘X Games.’ In 1996, Specialized Bicycle Components (also stylized as SPECIALIZED) started sponsoring him. He made a name for himself at X Games by pulling off the numerous stunts which included his most stretched superman seat grab, perfect backflips, and tailwhips.
In the early years of the event, Lavin was an aggressive competitor on the Dew Tour Circuit. In 1997, he was featured on the cover of the august issue of BMX Plus! magazine.
In 1999, The United States Post Office modeled a stamp featuring T.J. Lavin doing a superman seat-grab.
In 2002, TJ left Specialized and started sporting a Schwinn bike. In addition to the annual event, he also held an annual backyard jam at his house in Las Vegas.
He survived a clavicle fracture and made a comeback in X Games (2004) in which he went on to win a Bronze medal. During the Dew Action Sports Tour (2007) in Orlando, Florida, Lavin lost control of the landing and shattered his leg while performing a trick called “Decade.” To perform “Decade,” the rider does a 360° revolution around the bike, and while the bike is still in the air, he lands back on it. Following the heart-wrenching incident, Lavin went through multiple surgeries, extensive rehabilitation, and physical therapy, to get back in form. He suffered another crash in October 2010 when he was competing in the Dew Tour event in Las Vegas. He was attempting a nac nac combination over the second set of the dirt course when he slammed onto the ground as he was unable to put his feet back on the pedals following the stunt.
Following the horrific incident, he immediately became unconscious as he had fractured his orbital bone, right wrist, and numerous ribs. He was put in a medically induced coma due to the severity of his injuries. On top of his crash injuries, he was also diagnosed with pneumonia. He was discharged from the hospital in November 2020. The Las Vegas and action sports communities came together to aid Lavin’s and fellow BMXer Ty Pinney’s recovery, who suffered a similar head injury as Lavin while riding Lavin’s backyard in October. After the accident, he had to relearn basic human functions like how to walk, talk, and count. Thereafter, he stopped competing in BMX dirt competitions professionally.
Lavin began his career as a TV presenter with the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Gauntlet 2 (2005), the 11th season of the MTV reality game show, The Challenge. The Challenge was spun off from two of MTV’s reality shows, The Real World and Road Rules.
Thereafter, he became the regular host of the series. His zero-tolerance for the participants who want to quit the show has earned him immense popularity as he himself practices and preaches the ‘Never Give Up’ attitude in life. In fact, competitors even pushed themselves to perform better out of fear of disappointing Lavin. In an interview, while expressing his hatred for quitters, he said,
I get probably 50 people a week asking me how to be on the show, in DMs and comments and whatever, ‘Put me on the show!’ and quitters are taking the place of someone that really wants to be there, would die to be there, would give anything to trade places.”
Acting & Music
As a musician, he has produced music for local rapper Big B and for several television shows and commercials. In 2007, he released his debut album ‘The First Set’ (2007) under the moniker “Lavs.”
He performs live gigs at various open mics. In 2013, he made his film debut with the horror thriller drama film ‘Beast: A Monster Among Men’ in which he played the role of Ely. The storyline of the film revolves around a group of five friends, who are heading towards a remote cabin for a vacation. During the journey, they are hunted down one by one until only two remain.
He appeared in the American musical romantic drama film ‘Viena and the Fantomes’ (2020) as a BMX Rider.
In February 2011, he became the co-owner of the business venture ‘Forgiven,’ which manufactured an alcohol metabolizer that runs alcohol through the body faster and a person sober quicker. The chemical-free product rapidly broke down the by-products of alcohol and also provided electrolytes for rehydrating the body to help relieve nausea associated with alcohol consumption decreasing hangover-related symptoms. The product, which retailed for $3.99. He has a video game named after him called MTV Sports: T.J. Lavin’s Ultimate BMX, which also features his likeness. The sports video game was released under the label THQ for Game Boy Color in 2000.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Gold medal in BMX Dirt at X Games in 1997 and 1999
- Silver medal in BMX Dirt at X Games (1996)
- Bronze medal in BMX Dirt at X Games in 2000, 2001, and 2004
- Gold medal in Gravity Games (2000)
- Food: Pizza, Fettuccine
- Film Series: Superman
- Motocross Racer: Jeremy McGrath
- Surfer: Laird Hamilton
- Place: Hawaii
He is an avid lover of vintage cars. His collection includes the following cars:
- Pontiac Catalina
- 1964 Chevrolet C10
- 1972 Chevy K5 Blazer
- Audi Q7
- Toyota Land Cruiser FJ
- He is also known by the nicknames Lavs Las Vegas Weekly and TJ heavy..
- Lavin is a self-taught pianist and he also plays the guitar. The music lover has set up a home music studio called “Lav’s Lab.”
- In his backyard, he has created a BMX track, which spreads on one-acre land and includes several groomed trails and dirt jumps.
- A picture of his stunt featured in the 2000 Ride BMX magazine later became a subject of the photorealist painting “King of Dirt” by artist, Bert Ernie.
- He is an avid dog lover who owns three dogs named Hanky, Sonny, and Cooper. He often posts videos while playing guitar, meanwhile, hanging out with his dogs.
- His intense desire to help people led him to pursue a firefighting course in Thailand. The trained firefighter, Lavin, wanted to retire after The Challenge (2017) and become a firefighter in Las Vegas.
- T.J. Lavin is one of only two riders who has won the BMX Dirt gold medal more than once.