When Xavier Prather entered the “Big Brother” house in 2021, he wasn’t in a great place. As he shared on the show, his brother had died shortly before he began filming. Still, he used it to fuel his “Big Brother” ambitions — and went on to become the first Black winner on the CBS reality show.

When “The Challenge: USA” called, Prather wasn’t sure he should return to reality TV. While he didn’t like that five other houseguests from his season were also on the show — “It felt like a setup,” he says — that he was able to put aside.

“I almost didn’t go on because I was dealing with some very personal things, but ultimately I got support from my family,” he shared on a recent episode of Spotify’s “Reality Rundown” podcast. “No one on ‘The Challenge’ compound, with the exception of one person, actually knew. About two weeks, before we were flying out for filming one, of my cousins was murdered. And then within a week from that, my grandmother’s body just shut down and she passed away.”

He knew that eventually, he wanted to compete on “The Challenge,” but wasn’t sure the time was right. However, after speaking to past contestants, he knew he may never get the call again.

“My grandmother’s funeral was two days before I flew to Argentina. I was really torn up,” he said. “Two of my loved ones are just gone like that, and only one person knew everything. So I was really like, ‘Do I go? Do I stay?’ This is the second time I’m dealing with death right before I go on a show. I was struggling mentally. I was not doing OK. Even on ‘The Challenge,’ you don’t see me a lot on the cameras. I was sneaking away.”

He explained that though he wasn’t sure if he was mentally ready, he knew he needed a distraction from what was happening. Still, he didn’t want to share it on TV.

“One thing that was on my mind as well was that I just had gone on ‘Big Brother,’ where I was playing for my recently passed older brother and his nephew. I was like, I don’t really want every time I come on one of these shows my storyline to be about how I lost family, and that I’m playing for that,” Prather said. “I think you can use that, but at the same time I’m like, if that’s the case, that means every time I come on one of these shows something terrible has happened and I don’t want that. I would give up all my time on ‘Big Brother,’ any money I won, just to be able to see my brother again.”

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