Will it ever get easier? Diem Brown died more than two months ago following a long battle with cancer, but the pain of her death is still very fresh in the hearts and minds of her costars on MTV's The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II, which aired Brown's final episode on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
Us Weekly caught up with the contestants at a press event for the show in Glendale, Calif., where they shared their memories of the late MTV star.
"She maintained such an optimistic, positive outlook in life," her costar and longtime friend Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio told Us of Brown. "That girl fought until her f—ing last breath."
Devenanzio — who appeared on The Challenge 11 times, several of which also featured Brown — was close with the reality star, and even visited her a few days before she died.
"She was like, 'I don't want to know what stage I am. I'm gonna f—ing beat this thing,'" he recalled. "Just having that optimism when everything looks bleak, dude…It was that mental strength that she had to never give up. She never did, until her last breath." Read Brown's inspiring quotes about her cancer battle.
Castmate Jordan Wiseley also spoke about her strength, telling Us, "She was a fighter. That's what these shows were for her, [a chance] to go out there and show everybody that it doesn't matter what's wrong — she's gonna fight. She's gonna compete. And nobody's going to tell her not to."
Leroy Garrett even went so far as to say that she might have won the entire competition if she hadn't gotten sick. (As previously reported, Brown collapsed during filming of the show in Panama last August and had to be airlifted to a hospital in New York.)
"I first met her on Battle of the Exes I, and she and CT [Tamburello] took second place," he told Us. "Had she not been sick…I'm sure they probably would have won it if she were in a healthier state. It definitely sucked."
Garrett's partner, Nia Moore, roomed with Brown, and said she strives to live her life in a way that honors her late friend.
"I felt like she was really an open book. What I admired about her was her poise," Moore told Us. "She was obviously somebody who battled something she didn't deserve and couldn't avoid. She was just a testament to human strength. She didn't complain. She made no excuse. She took whatever card she was dealt."
She went on to say she keeps a picture of Brown as her screensaver on her cellphone. "The first person I look at in the morning is Diem," she explained. "Because if I can be half of that woman, I'm straight, you know? She never complained or played the victim…I could never have done what she did. It just makes me strive to be a better woman and not worry about the trivial s–t that's going on in my life."
The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II airs Tuesday nights on MTV at 11 p.m.
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