Tyler James Williams reveals he nearly died from previously undiagnosed Crohn’s disease


Abbott Elementary’s Tyler James Williams recently revealed that he nearly died five years ago from complications related to previously undiagnosed Crohn’s disease.

The actor, now 30, recalled the traumatic ordeal to Men’s Health, which included emergency surgery to remove part of his lower intestine and months spent living on intravenous foods with an ostomy bag.

At his weakest, the star weighed just 105 pounds and could barely stand on his own.

Williams’ health concerns came to a head after ‘pushing [his] body to the limit’ through intense diet and exercise while juggling a hectic shooting schedule.

Traumatic: The actor, now 30, recalled the traumatic ordeal to Men's Health , which included emergency surgery to remove part of his lower intestine and months spent living on intravenous foods with an ostomy bag. At his weakest, the star weighed just 105 pounds and could barely stand on his own; seen in 2017

Abbott Elementary’s Tyler James Williams (left in 2023) recently revealed that he nearly died five years ago (right in 2017) from complications related to previously undiagnosed Crohn’s disease. The actor, now 30, recalled the traumatic ordeal to Men’s Health , which included emergency surgery to remove part of his lower intestine and months spent living on intravenous foods with an ostomy bag. At his weakest, the star weighed just 105 pounds and could barely stand on his own; seen in 2017

By late 2017, he was able to successfully bring his weight up to 130 pounds but months of force-feeding himself protein shakes and heavy lifting took a toll on him.

‘I was really pushing my body to the limit,’ Williams recalled. ‘By the time December hit, it just crashed. Everything shut down.’

Williams was experiencing debilitating stomach pains and could hardly keep food down, including the magnesium citrate needed to perform a colonoscopy.

This led to the actor seeking help from a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone who utilized X-rays to discover the root of his ailments.

The gastroenterologist found that Williams had ‘less than a one-centimeter gap in his terminal ileum [the narrowest portion of the gut]’ due to his bowels being highly inflamed and clogged with scar tissue.

Williams' health concerns came to a head after 'pushing [his] body to the limit' through intense diet and exercise while juggling a hectic shooting schedule; seen January 10

Williams’ health concerns came to a head after ‘pushing [his] body to the limit’ through intense diet and exercise while juggling a hectic shooting schedule; seen January 10

He classified it as a massive flare-up from Crohn’s disease, which took Williams by surprise as he’d never been previously diagnosed with the chronic condition.

Crohn’s disease is ‘a chronic disease that causes inflammation in your digestive tract,’ according to MedlinePlus. 

It can affect any part of your digestive tract, though it most commonly plagues the ‘small intestine and the beginning of your large intestine.’

Weight loss, reduced appetite, abdominal pain and cramping that can range from mild to severe and constipation that could result in a bowel obstruction are some of the common symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

'I was really pushing my body to the limit,' Williams recalled. 'By the time December hit, it just crashed. Everything shut down'; seen in 2017 just before his flare-up

‘I was really pushing my body to the limit,’ Williams recalled. ‘By the time December hit, it just crashed. Everything shut down’; seen in 2017 just before his flare-up

If left untreated, the condition can be life-threatening. Though the official cause is unknown, it’s been hypothesized that the disorder could be an autoimmune reaction.

There is also a genetic component that was identified in Williams’ family, but, at the time, the star was the only member that’s shown symptoms. In 2020, his brother Tyrel would experience a less severe flare-up.

With a diagnosis in hand, Williams was rushed into surgery to have six inches of his lower intestine removed.

But with so much damage to his intestines, they were unable to heal and eventually perforated.

Previously undiagnosed: A gastroenterologist classified it as a massive flare-up from Crohn's disease, which took Williams by surprise as he'd never been previously diagnosed with the chronic condition; seen January 15

Previously undiagnosed: A gastroenterologist classified it as a massive flare-up from Crohn’s disease, which took Williams by surprise as he’d never been previously diagnosed with the chronic condition; seen January 15

This led to Williams going septic which resulted in another emergency surgery. For months, the actor had to have an ostomy bag and relied on intravenous foods to keep him nourished.

Though his dramatic weight loss was shocking, Williams said it was the ‘vibrating’ sensation throughout his body while septic that made him fear for his life.  

‘The last thought I had was Holy s**t, this could be it. If this is it, I’m not happy. I worked a lot. I did a lot of things,’ recalled.’I didn’t enjoy any of this. This can’t be it.’ 

Now some five years later, Williams is the picture of health at a muscular 145 pounds. He’s given up alcohol, coffee and red meat in order to prevent flare-ups.

Along with a healthy diet, Williams’ doctor recommended another means of keeping inflammation down and stimulate appetite.

Healthy: Now some five years later, Williams is the picture of health at a muscular 145 pounds. He's given up alcohol, coffee and red meat in order to prevent flare-ups; seen in 2020

Healthy: Now some five years later, Williams is the picture of health at a muscular 145 pounds. He’s given up alcohol, coffee and red meat in order to prevent flare-ups; seen in 2020

‘The doctor was like, “Here’s something that’ll keep your system from inflaming. It’ll keep your mind right, and it’ll make you eat.” And I was like, “What is this wonderful drug that we’re talking about?” And he wrote me a weed prescription,’ he explained to the outlet. 

Instead of overworking himself at the gym, Williams now relies on steady fitness that includes circuit training among other effective means. Meditation has also been incorporated in Williams’ daily routine.

The life-threatening experience led to Williams reevaluating his career and deciding to focus on ‘purpose-driven’ roles in the future.

‘When I woke up and eventually got back to [being] myself, it was like, “what would make it not suck?”‘ said Williams.

'Purpose-driven': The life-threatening experience led to Williams reevaluating his career and deciding to focus on 'purpose-driven' roles in the future

‘Purpose-driven’: The life-threatening experience led to Williams reevaluating his career and deciding to focus on ‘purpose-driven’ roles in the future

Role of a lifetime: Keeping with his goal, Williams nabbed the role of First grade teacher, Gregory Eddie, in the hit ABC mockumentary series, Abbott Elementary (pictured)

Role of a lifetime: Keeping with his goal, Williams nabbed the role of First grade teacher, Gregory Eddie, in the hit ABC mockumentary series, Abbott Elementary (pictured)

Keeping with his goal, Williams nabbed the role of First grade teacher, Gregory Eddie, in the hit ABC mockumentary series, Abbott Elementary.

His performance earned him the Golden Globe for ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical-Comedy or Drama Television Series’ at this year’s star-studded ceremony.

Williams sees parallels between himself and his character, who also ‘wants to be in this position of power ’cause he feels like that’s what he needs to be successful but then finds out that that’s not his life.

‘I was like, “That sounds like the very journey I had to come to.”‘

Winner: His performance earned him the Golden Globe for 'Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical-Comedy or Drama Television Series' at this year's star-studded ceremony; seen January 10

Winner: His performance earned him the Golden Globe for ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical-Comedy or Drama Television Series’ at this year’s star-studded ceremony; seen January 10

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