It was supposed to be TJ Lavin’s swan song, his final ride as a professional BMX rider. But the ride during the Dew Tour that landed the MTV host in a hospital Thursday with a medically-induced coma was also one he didn’t want to do, several friends told PEOPLE.
Lavin, 33, was shaken up one day prior to his crash after friend and fellow BMX rider Ty Pinney was severely injured after crashing his own bike in Lavin’s backyard bike course in Las Vegas. Pinney is currently in a coma, a mere five hospital beds away from Lavin.
“TJ was devastated,” Lavin’s and Pinney’s friend Oliver Abbas said.
Lavin was injured on those very jumps while performing a trick called a “nac nac,” a trick friends say he’s performed hundreds of times. But mentally, Lavin had his friend’s crash on his mind. In a show of support, he was even wearing a shirt off Pinney’s clothing line, The Horror Project, at the time of his crash.
“He was totally tweaked because of Ty’s crash,” BMX star Ryan Nyquist told PEOPLE on Sunday. “Something like that, when it happens to your friends, it definitely messes with you. I’ve had friends go down hard and you just think about it. It hits so close to home because that could be you. And the fact that it happened to him in [Lavin’s] backyard, that hits home. It’s crazy. I feel like that was really one his mind when he competed. It can’t not affect you.”
‘A Pretty Strong Dude’
Lavin, however, is a “fighter,” Nyquist said. “I talked to one of the guys from Dew Tour and they took an MRI and things looked all right and they’re slowly weaning him off of the medication to keep him induced. But I think he’s still not ready to be conscious. I think he’s got a breathing tube, and it’s unfortunate. I feel like TJ’s a pretty strong dude and he’ll pull out of it just fine. It’s going to take a little while.”
Over the weekend Lavin was showing signs of recovering, reports indicated. But rather than being laid up in a hospital bed, Lavin was supposed to be saying his goodbyes to the sport that made him a star over the weekend, since this was to be his last ride before retiring from BMX.
“TJ’s still got something to offer but I think he was just ready to move on and just wanted to do other things,” Nyquist said. “That’s not the way anyone wants to got out, I know that much.”
As of now, the BMX community is simply holding its breath and keeping the Real World Road Rules Challenge host in their thoughts – and Nyquist doesn’t doubt the Lavin will pull through this current setback.
“Basically, whatever TJ needs, BMX is going to support him,” he said. “That’s the way it’s always been. It’s always been one big family. We know that injuries happen and we know how much it hurts, so basically whatever TJ needs he’ll get it from us.”