The Biggest Loser family is in mourning. Season 7 alum Damien Gurganious died at the age of 38 on Monday, Nov. 24, Us Weekly can confirm. Gurganious, who celebrated his birthday just one week before his passing, suffered from a sudden onset of a rare autoimmune disorder that caused bleeding in his brain.
"He was a pillar of his family, an amazing son, brother, cousin and uncle," his family tells Us in an exclusive statement. "He was an incredible husband and father to his two-year old daughter, Giselle. He was an inspiration and a mentor to so many. His love for his family and friends was immense."
Gurganious and his then-fiancee Nicole Brewer Gurganious appeared on the NBC reality competition in January 2009 and were eliminated in the third week. They married in August of that year. Nicole recently paid tribute to her loving husband on her Facebook page.
"As most of you know, I never post on social media. So, it is highly ironic and deeply sad that my first true post is to inform you of the tragic loss of my beloved husband, Damien Gurganious," she wrote. "Damien suffered from the sudden onset of a rare autoimmune disorder, Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), which caused inoperable bleeding in his brain. Damien passed away on Monday, November 24, 2014."
"All of you who knew Damien can attest to his generous and loving spirit, his outgoing and gregarious personality, and his caring and compassionate nature," she continued. "Damien always desired to bring out the best in those around him by offering encouragement, support and love, often couched in his own hilarious and sage adages."
The Biggest Loser is set to air an "in memoriam" card following next week's episode on Thursday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. EST on NBC. In the meantime, friends of Gurganious have set up "The Damien Gurganious Family Fund" website for those who'd like to help Nicole and Giselle's financial stress. Gurganious was the main provider for the family.