YouTube is a community that is comprised of tens of thousands of content producers. There has been multiple YouTubers who have passed away either unexpectedly or as the result of an illness.
The best way to honor these unique and awesome personalities is to acknowledge their work so their memory can stay alive. In some cases, even grow. So, with that in mind, let’s look at 10 YouTubers who tragically passed away.
10. Jam Sebastian
Jam Sebastian was a 28-year-old YouTuber from the Philippines. He was considered a Filipino celebrity who, together with his fiance Michelle Liggayu, created the channel JaMichTV. A couple since 2008, JaMich were one of the most popular “love teams” on YouTube, especially in the Philippines.
Love Teams are channels that focus on vlogging the day-to-day lives of typically attractive, loving couples. Sebastian referred to his affection for his fiance as “puppy love,” While some love teams show the good and the bad — or talk about it — in their relationship, they clearly did love one another.
Their FIRST uploaded video was titled “By Chance,” and described how they met. It was an instant sensation, garnering over seven million views and over half a million subscribers. Liggayu proposed to Sebastian on video after six years of dating.
Sebastian was diagnosed with Stage 4 — the final stage — lung cancer in January of 2014. Lung cancer is notoriously hard to detect before it has metastasized. Sixteen days before his 29th birthday, Sebastian passed away after over a year of battling that disease.
Since then, Liggayu has started her own channel but seems to have mostly abandoned YouTube. The couple’s videos and channels are still active though.
Yoteslaya was a young YouTuber who focused on Let’s Play/Video Game videos — mostly Borderlands 2 and Blacks Ops 2.
Yoteslaya was driving, probably under the influence, and attempted to outrun a train in his car. He didn’t make it and the train violently collided with his car, killing him and the two other occupants inside. Many fans found out about his demise via social media.
They petitioned Gearbox Software — the creator of Borderlands 2 — to add Yoteslaya to the game in some form or fashion. Gearbox responded after the onslaught of messages:
“Very saddened to hear of Yoteslaya, Ryan, and Ashlee passing away. Threads, comments and requests like these help reinforce just how appreciated Yoteslaya was and how much he will be missed. The many requests for action have been heard, but my thoughts are first and foremost with the many friends and families of all those affected by this tragic accident and I ask that you please join me in respecting their privacy and wishes during this extremely difficult time.”
Before his unexpected death, he was working on branching out and creating a more well-rounded channel. The reaction to his death showed the loyal following he had. People still post memorials on his YouTube channel — and even continue to request that he be placed in Borderlands 2.
8. Rich Piana
A 40-something body-builder, Rich Piana has been dubbed the most famous bodybuilder on the planet. His channel was extremely popular as was his line of supplements, which afforded him a lifestyle that most people can only dream about. He was an open and honest person, which drew a lot of people to him.
He would often talk openly about his experience with steroids, supplements or even muscle injection oils like Synthol. His mysterious death shocked the YouTube and bodybuilding communities.
He was apparently getting his hair cut by his girlfriend in the bathroom of their home when he collapsed and then fell backward, hitting his head on the ground. The paramedics arrived and were able to resuscitate him. They were able to get his heart beating again and brought him to the hospital.
He eventually died after fighting for his life for two weeks in a coma. The reports were that the police found a white powder (in a line) and credit card (to make said line) on a table in his living room. Some claim it was some sort of drug — either cocaine or heroin/opiates.
Some also blame Rich’s steroid use. He had recently gone through a massive “cycle” of steroids to show his users what it’s like and how to effectively use them. Either way, after decades of extreme abuse to his body, he followed in the footsteps of so many other bodybuilders by dying in his 40’s — of a heart attack or drug overdose or both.
His girlfriend released a video on his channel disputing a lot of the rumors surrounding his death. She said the powder on the table was actually a pre-work out supplement that contains caffeine — and other things like proteins.
While there is an older video that shows Rich sniffing the same supplement, it was a stunt for someone else’s channel and wasn’t part of his daily routine. Regardless of how he died, Rich brought a ton of attention to the bodybuilding world. He will always be remembered as a leader in the industry who died doing what he loved.
7. Edd Gould
Edd Gould was a young — he passed away at the age of 23 — YouTube animator who primarily made Flash videos. He had been making cartoons for most of his life, beginning back in 2002.
He was also one of the first YouTubers and definitely one of the first YouTube animators, beginning his channel EddsWorld way back in March of 2006 — that may even predate the Lazy Sunday explosion that really put YouTube on the map! His channel existed for over a decade and he personally posted over 70 videos in that time.
The channel still exists to this day thanks to the help of his friends, who haven’t added any content but still take care of his page, giving any and all profits to charity. Edd’s video focused on a surreal style of humor that really helped him stick out and obtain over 1.2 million subscribers.
However, Edd was diagnosed with leukemia and, despite a valiant battle, passed away in March of 2012. He had been diagnosed almost a year earlier, in April of 2011, with a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia — cancer of the white blood cells. H had fought that exact form of cancer before in his life.
Edd being Edd, he posted a video called “Edd vs. Cancer” on his channel, which featured the diagnosis, his reaction and his brand of comedy. That showed what a brave and hilarious person he was. He was creative, funny and courageous and YouTube just hasn’t been as funny since he passed.
6. Ernest “Barry” Elliot
Barry Elliot was the co-founder of the popular (1.5 million subs) YouTube channel, Iraqveteran8888. His channel focused mostly on gun related culture, from testing different weapons to tutorials on how to build/maintain a range of different firearms.
Now, Barry is a bit different from most YouTubers in that he was an older gentleman, being born in 1955. Now, while he did cofound the channel at one point, right before his death, the other owner posted online that Barry would not be returning to the channel.
While people had surmised that he was sick or that he had cancer, that was shot down by the other owner who called those rumors “BS” and said that Barry had “screwed up” and that he had to “face the consequences.” He later elaborated that Barry would probably be going to jail and even if he didn’t, wouldn’t return to the channel.
While the timing suggested suicide — it’s hard to find any real information on his death — his online obituary page states that he passed away “quietly” at home on April 12th, 2014. That makes it sound like he was probably sick and that he passed away in his sleep.
His reach extended beyond his YouTube channel. He was also a member of the show Hillbilly Preppers. Regardless of what happened before his death, he left a definite mark on the “gun community” that endures to this day. The channel he cofounded is still active and popular.
5. Talia Castellano
Some YouTubers become famous because they’re highlighting a disease they’re fighting against — and some of them die unexpectedly. Talia Castellano was one of the more famous vloggers. She died at the age of 13 after battling cancer for years.
Despite the fact that she was sick for most of her childhood, preteen and early teen years, she was active in the fundraising community and became famous outside of YouTube. She appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and also became an official Cover Girl.
Her videos mostly focused on makeup tutorials and vlogging about her diagnosis, treatment and thoughts on life and death. In regards to her diagnosis, despite the fact that she was very young she still looked at it like someone who was wise and brave. When it came to dying, she said:
“When it’s my turn to go, That will be my turn to go.”
She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer at the age of 7 — called neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer of the peripheral nervous system. She initially reacted well to treatment. Despite being declared cancer free, it returned three times over the next six years.
After learning that her cancer had become terminal, she decided to forgo treatment that would’ve lengthened her life. She instead opted for palliative care — which focuses on abating symptoms. She was an extremely brave person and left her mark on both YouTube, cancer-fighting communities and the world in general. Well done, Talia.
4. Connie Kin
Connie Kim’s story is perhaps the most tragically ironic of all of the deaths on this list. A part of the WhatsUpMOMs YouTube Channel, she was known for her tips and stories about her life as a mother.
Part of that included talking about her pregnancies — the one she had before her death and her previous ones — and analyzing and rating parenting products. If there’s any positive that came from her death, it’s that it helped highlight that the United States has a terrible record when it comes to maternal death.
The US ranks 50th in the world in maternal mortality. Kin didn’t die from the birth of her child, but rather from an infection that she contracted during her time in the hospital — according to the CDC, infection is the second-leading cause of maternal mortality after heart issues.
Her child was healthy and fine but it was a tragic outcome for her husband and family. It hit her fans hard. She wanted to highlight what life was like for mothers and, even in death, she continued to do her job.
Element Animation is a collective of animators that make cartoons based on popular video games like MineCraft and Terraria. They used the actual game footage to create hilarious videos/shorts that people ate up online. Yakiwchuk’s name was Scott Yakiwchuk — he was also known as Scott Stoked.
Stoked was one of the main voice actors at Element Animation. He was married and had two sons and a stepdaughter ; he was 42 years old when he died. His family and Element Animation were tight-lipped about what killed him. But it looks like his death was unexpected and potentially caused by an “unspecified” kind of cancer.
Some also say that he died of a heart attack, but it doesn’t really matter how he passed away. What matters is that his work lives on through ElementAnimation.com and his YouTube channel, which has over 2 million subscribers.
The people at Element have set up a donation page for his wife and children in the hopes that they will be able to continue to live their lives at the same standard that they did while Scott was alive.
2. Caleb Logan Bratayley
Caleb Logan Bratayley who ran the channels Bratayley and blazenoutlaws, was the most popular YouTuber to have passed away — with almost 5 million subscribers. Unlike a lot of YouTubers, especially younger ones, his death was completely unexpected.
While he did have a condition, he wasn’t aware of it. His family and the entire YouTube community was stunned when he died at the age of 13 of what was initially described as “natural causes.” Those causes were actually hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is common and affects the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively.
While there are quite a few treatment options, many don’t realize they have the condition. Caleb was at home with his family when a “medical emergency” happened and the family called 9-11. The ambulance arrived and attempted to do everything in their power to save Bratayley, but he was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital.
The great thing to come from this horrible situation is that his family has kept his YouTube channels alive. They’ve added family-friendly content and reminders and memorials to their son. They’ve adding a consistent number of new subscribers, showing that vlogging talent may run in the family.
1. Christina Grimmie
Christina Grimmie was a talented young woman, who also had the second largest following of any YouTuber that has passed away. Grimmie was from Marlton, New Jersey and began posting her videos on her YouTube channel — zeldaxlove64.
Her father encouraged her to pursue a career in singing. He had noticed his daughter’s singing ability when she was around six-years-old. She would post videos of herself singing popular songs such as Hannah Montana’s “Don’t Wanna Be Torn” — her first upload — and Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A” — the first video that received significant recognition.
She blew up after that, with videos reaching over 140 million views — like her cover of Nelly’s “Just a Dream” (a duet with Sam Tsui). She even finished second in the MyYouTube singing competition behind Selena Gomez. That second place finish drew the attention of Gomez and her mother, who ended up managing Grimmie from that point forward.
She ended up singing backup vocals on many of Gomez’s songs and opening for her original band, Selena Gomez and the Scene. She ended up auditioning for NBC’s The Voice a few years later and finished in third place, which only grew her YouTube audience and general recognition.
Grimmie was shot and killed by Kevin James Loibl, a 27-year-old obsessed fan who shot her while she was signing autographs after a show at the Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida. After he shot her four times, Loibl was tackled by Grimmie’s brother. The two wrestled and the murderer got away, shooting himself in the head.
Grimmie was alive when she reached the hospital but ended up succumbing to her injuries just before 11 p.m. that night. It was thought that Loibl had an “unrealistic infatuation” with the singer and even altered his appearance — via weight loss, hair and eye surgery — in an attempt to get her to notice him.
When that did not happen — because she never actually met him — he snapped.