Tyler James Williams Shares Near-Death Battle With Crohn’s Disease

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Abbott Elementary star Tyler James Williams recalled how he nearly died when his body “crashed” from untreated Crohn’s disease: “The last thought I had was, ‘Holy s–t, this could be it.'”

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For a period of time, Tyler James Williams was on the brink of death.

The Abbott Elementary star opened up about his harrowing battle with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disorder he didn’t know he had until 2017. In an interview with Men’s Health, Williams recalled how he struggled with gaining muscle prior to the diagnosis due to excruciating stomach pain that made it difficult to keep food down.

“I was really pushing my body to the limit,” shared Williams, who was also busy juggling roles on Criminal Minds and Detroit at the time. “By the time December hit, it just crashed. Everything shut down.”

When Williams sought treatment from a gastroenterologist, an X-ray showed that his bowels were severely inflamed and clogged with scar tissue from a Crohn’s disease flare-up. The damage forced Williams to undergo emergency surgery to remove six inches of lower intestine.

However, as Williams noted, his intestines were too weak to heal and ultimately perforated amid his recovery, resulting in him going septic and being rushed back into surgery. “The last thought I had was, ‘Holy s–t, this could be it,'” he remembered saying to himself. “‘If this is it, I’m not happy. I worked a lot. I did a lot of things. I didn’t enjoy any of this. This can’t be it.'”

Fortunately, the Everybody Hates Chris alum was able to recover from the ordeal. As he explained, the incident helped him “learn how to stop making a dramatic change happen really quickly and learn how to have a better relationship with my body.”

Kevork Djansezian/NBC via Getty Images

“The important thing for me, and those like me, to remember is that longevity is a big part of the game,” Williams said, adding that he and his brother Tyrel—who also suffered a Crohn’s flare-up in 2020—are now more focused on their health. “If you can’t [stay strong] and be healthy, there really is no point.”

In addition, the health scare has shifted Williams’ career goals to go for “purpose-driven” roles like Abbott Elementary‘s Gregory Eddie, who he described as someone who “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.”

He added of how the character parallels his own personal struggles, “I was like, ‘That sounds like the very journey I had to come to.'”

Watch E! News weeknights Monday through Thursday at 11:30 p.m., only on E!.

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