My phone, like many others in the bodybuilding world, was buzzing early and often this morning as colleagues shared some horrible news: Rising star Dallas "Big Country" McCarver has passed away, according to numerous internet reports. He was just 26 years old.

Word is that Josh Lenartowicz, who has been training and sharing living quarters with McCarver while both bodybuilders trained at Flex Lewis' gym in Florida, found McCarver face down in the kitchen, not breathing. He had food in his mouth, and attempts by Lenartowicz to revive him failed. Paramedics arrived and transported McCarver to the hospital, where efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. To this point, nothing official has been announced as the cause of death.



McCarver was a rising star whose trajectory started at a young age. He became the youngest pro ever to win an overall champion at a pro qualifier in 2012 when he took it all at the North American Championships at only 21 years old. Cody Montgomery later became the youngest ever to duplicate that feat when he won the Overall at the 2015 GB Championships at 20.

Over the ensuing five years, McCarver built a sterling reputation as one of the strongest bodybuilders, as well as one of the hardest working. Not content to simply be one of the biggest men onstage, he was also one of the most athletic, working split jumps and other innovations into his posing—no small feat for a man well over 300 pounds with very little body fat.

McCarver had two wins on the pro level: the 2015 California Pro and the 2016 Chicago Pro. Earlier this year, he finished second to Cedric McMillan in the thrilling finale to the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio, then followed that up with a second-place medal at the New Zealand Pro a week later. However, he failed to finish at the Arnold Australia a week after that, nearly collapsing on stage at the prejudging due to an upper respiratory infection.

In recent years, McCarver started his own clothing brand, Outgrow Your Ego—a worthy message to any up-and-coming bodybuilder. As he wrote in an Instagram post just weeks ago, "Dreams, thoughts, and simply wanting something will get you nothing but let down…if you truly want it GET TO WORK!"     

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Dallas "Big Country" McCarver (@dallasmccarver) on

Dallas McCarver got to work, and he achieved a tremendous amount in a short time. He will be missed.

We will continue following and updating this breaking story as it unfolds.

About the Author

Lonnie Teper

Lonnie Teper

Lonnie Teper, an award-winning journalist and emcee, has been covering the bodybuilding, fitness and figure scene for more than 20 years.

View all articles by this author