Most fans of MTV’s The Challenge know veteran Leroy Garrett to be one of the chillest, sweetest guys on the show.
Unlike most of the other male contestants, Leroy doesn’t exude toxic masculinity with every word that comes out of his mouth (ahem, Johnny Bananas, Zac, Wes, and literally every other white male contestant).
Because unlike his white peers, Leroy doesn’t have the luxury of getting to act like a dick on TV. Rather, Leroy has to be strategic, conscious of how he represents Black men onscreen. He told E! News,
“I have felt the pressure of not being stereotypical. By this I mean, some look at Blacks as being loud, violent, up in your face, or not being well educated. For myself, I’m none of the above or show any traces of that. I don’t even think you can count on one hand any of my altercations.”
It was all of this that ran through Leroy’s head when he was notoriously attacked with vicious racial slurs by former co-star Camila Nakagawa back in 2017 on the show.
The incident happened during the filming of The Challenge XXX: Dirty 30, while they were all hanging out in the house.
Camila went off on Leroy saying,
“You are f–king an idiot. Guess how many wins you’ve had? Zero. You’re a fucking Black motherf–-king p–sy. It’s all about Black mother–kers like that piece of s–t!”
Of course, Leroy had no choice but to keep his cool. He said,
“Can you imagine when she said that if I start cursing her out? I’m standing over her Black, 6-foot-1… you are only going to remember me screaming over her.”
“It sucks that we always have to be the one to turn the cheek and be the bigger person.”
And while the attack was incredibly hard to watch, Leroy said that it was actually “way worse” than what they showed on TV.
“It hits different when it comes from someone that you thought was your friend, so to hear her speak that way it was just, like, damn. It could make you feel, like, wow, is this how all people who are not Black feel like when they are mad?”
Of course, Camila didn’t get in trouble with MTV for the attack on Leroy. She was taken out of the house for the night to calm down but returned the next day to compete. She even went on to win that season.
Rather, Camila wasn’t banned from The Challenge until her appearance on The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars later that year when she punched a PA in the face and stole a golf cart.
MTV Suddenly Takes a Stand
A few years later and MTV is singing a different tune — or at least pretending to.
Over the summer of 2020, MTV condemned competitor Dee Nguyen’s racist comments on the Black Lives Matter movement and swiftly banned her from ever appearing on the show again. They also did their best to cut her airtime from the season that was on TV at the time.
Of course, Leroy knew all of this was just an act. After MTV released their statement, Lee tweeted,
“This is a great start and a step in the right direction. BUT I wish you guys would’ve had this same energy in the past when I was called Racial Slurs. I hope U continue to keep that same energy with current and future cast members!”
Leroy later told E!,
“To see what they did, I can applaud it, but I wish they would have done that in the past. At least they are doing things now.”
He then added,
“Things would fly back then that don’t fly now. It is going to take years but I’m glad things are changing.”
Leroy Goes Into Retirement
As for The Challenge vet, this season will be his last. He tweeted back in December,
“Yesssssir… you heard it straight from me. This is my last season competing on The Challenge.”
Including the current season of The Challenge: Double Agents, Leroy has competed in 12 seasons altogether, making it to the finals in four of them.
But Lee has never won. And he’s done being the nice guy this time. On the show, he explained,
“Seasons before, I always thought about other people’s feelings — this season I really don’t care, because this is my last and final season and I really want to get this win.”
Lee is currently on the show with his girlfriend Kam Williams, so the couple has double the chances of winning.
Leroy and Kam met on the show and hooked up on The Challenge: War of the Worlds but didn’t actually make things official until August 2019.
“The moment I started my Challenge journey, even as a rookie, [Leroy’s] the one person who believed in me from the very beginning. Not only how he was always there for me inside the game, but even outside of the game we just developed a chemistry that the cameras never got to see. That’s where we really fell for each other and had our relationship, so it’s just our chemistry.”
The couple recently moved to Texas where Leroy opened his own barbershop in Houston.
The Challenge: Double Agents airs on Wednesdays on MTV.