'Extreme Weight Loss' contestant Rod Durham dies at 52

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'Extreme Weight Loss' Contestant Rod Durham Dead at 52

Extreme Weight Loss has experienced a tragic loss of its own.

Rod Durham, who appeared in the fourth season of the ABC series and lost more than 180 pounds, has died at the age of 52. Extreme Weight Loss trainer Heidi Powell paid tribute to Durham on Instagram, writing, "Heaven just got a lot brighter."

"While I am selfishly so sad and completely devastated that I won't get to see him on earth anymore, I am rejoicing for the spirit he is carrying with him and spreading to everyone up there," she said.

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"Rod, you will be missed terribly. Everything from your kindness, to your warm smile and bear hugs, to your friendship, to you extraordinary ability to make ANYONE (including me) feel special," Powell added. "YOU are special. And will never be forgotten."

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'Extreme Weight Loss' contestant Rod Durham dies at 52
EXTREME WEIGHT LOSS - 'Rod' (Tallahassee, FL) - 49-year-old Rod is a fun-loving drama coach who always wears a big smile on the outside to hide the self-doubt and unhappiness he keeps buried deep down. He longs to audition for roles on Broadway, but his 448-pound frame has made achieving that dream impossible. Additionally, though Rod serves as a caretaker for his elderly parents, he's never told his father that he is gay. Realizing that his excess weight and his hidden sexuality have kept him from fully expressing who he really is, Rod wrote a letter to trainer and transformation specialist Chris Powell asking for help. His yearlong physical and emotional journey, which will include auditioning for the Broadway musical 'Chicago,' will be documented on the hit series 'Extreme Weight Loss,'airing TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET/PT) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Mike O'Hara/ABC via Getty Images)
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Durham was a high school teacher in Tallahassee, Florida, and Rocky Hanna, the school's administrator and a friend of his, told the Tallahassee Democrat students are "broken-hearted" over his death.

"He always made everyone smile -- even if you were having the worst day," Hanna recalled. "If you saw Rod, your day got better. His laugh was simply infectious. Everyone loved Rod Durham. There are tens of thousands of kids today who are broken-hearted."

Durham's last social media post was five weeks ago, celebrating his birthday. "I'm 52 today (February 6th)," he wrote alongside a smiling selfie. "Behold B*tches (sorry! I'm happy to still be alive!)"

I'm 52 today (February 6th) ...Behold Bitches (sorry! I'm happy to still be alive!)

A photo posted by Rod Durham (@roddurham) on

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