On episode 6 of Double Agents, Lio decided to remove himself from the competition. According to him, he was not in the right state mentally to continue.
During the episode, Lio discussed his past experiences when he lived in a group home. The Challenge put him in an environment where he was waking up next to strangers in an unfamiliar environment. This triggered the anxieties he experienced when living in the group home.
Since the episode, Lio has appeared on podcasts and The Aftermath to discuss his situation. The episode only showed half of his struggle.
Lio had travelled to Iceland for The Challenge, but his family had just moved to Los Angeles. This left his wife alone with two sons in a new city. Plus his wife was pregnant and this is in the middle of a pandemic. Lio worried about his family, in a new city, with only one adult. This sense of worry was amplified by the limited contact in the Challenge house. Lio was afraid he would miss a call from his wife or he would not be able to reach her when he had time on the phone.
Together, all of these anxieties led Lio to remove himself. TJ respected this move, but some fans pointed out some hypocrisy. TJ has called out other quitters in the past who have left for various reasons. While some people would say Lio’s circumstances are more understandable, we don’t know how other quitter felt when they left. Objectively, people like Brandon Tindel or Faith Stowers had less going on when they quit. Mentally, we don’t know how they felt.
The answer to this is probably twofold. Firstly, in an era of COVID everyone can relate to the anxieties Lio felt being away from home. Even if they had a different upbringing, Lio had a family thousands of miles away. As a father, TJ probably related to this.
Also, times are changing. Mental health is getting more recognition and the importance is being emphasized. As such, TJ understands Lio didn’t make a quick decisions. He didn’t quit because the challenges were too tough, he quit to protected his wellbeing. It’s not like Lio anticipated this anxiety coming into the show. After all, TJ did support Kayleigh’s decision to leave Vendettas after being bullied. There’s a mental component to that decision, and Lio made it clear The Challenge was mentally taxing him.
I’m glad Lio made a decisions to protect himself and his family. It would be nice to see him get a second chance at the show, hopefully in a time where his family has protection from COVID and his wife has the right support systems while Lio is away.