“You think you know me? Don’t bet on it! Hard, sweaty, pumped and sassy!” Scott Klein never had the opportunity to truly see just how far his muscles could take him as a professional bodybuilder, model, actor and personal trainer due to his untimely and tragic death in 2003 at only 30 years old. Standing at six feet tall and weighing 278 pounds, many believed Klein was well on his way to becoming the next Mr. Olympia thanks to his massive physique and determination, not to mention his 7% body fat, 22-inch biceps, 32-inch waist, 55-inch chest and 29-inch quads. Add in the fact that he easily tipped the scales at a jaw-dropping 300 pounds during his off season and it’s no surprise why Klein was well on his way to becoming a bodybuilding star.
Competing in the National Physique Committee’s (NPC) Heavyweight bodybuilding competition between 1995 and 1998 where he became a four-time champion, Klein upgraded his competition level in 1999 and entered the NPC as a super heavyweight competitor. With most of his competitors barely reaching the 5’10” mark, Klein’s six-foot frame gave him a competitive advantage as his massive muscles and overall physique left many shocked and wondering aloud about his magic concoction of performance enhancing drugs that produced such killer results. Unfortunately, time would tell his secrets soon enough.
One day in 2003, Klein returned to his native Illinois to visit his mother. After dinner, he headed up to his old bedroom for the evening but, when his mother went to wake him up the next morning at 5 am, he was unresponsive. Realizing that her son might be unconscious or, even worse, dead, she hurriedly dialed 9-1-1 for help. By the time the paramedics arrived, it was far too late as the 30-year-old Klein had already passed away. Immediately taken for an autopsy, the medical examiner confirmed that Klein’s cause of death was from kidney failure, which sent the media into a frenzy over his rumored dependence on performance enhancing drugs and steroids to maintain his impressive physique.
With Klein’s death taking a heavy toll on the bodybuilding industry much like the deaths of Mohammed Benaziza and Andreas Munzer did in 1992 and 1996, many bodybuilders once again reevaluated their own use of steroids. To avoid internal damage and severe side effects like “roid rage” and heart failure, more and more professionals vowed to only take them in the weeks prior to a competition to ensure optimal results and a pristine physique. However, the issue went far beyond a cycle of starting and stopping with addiction finally settling in as a nasty reality.
Bodybuilders like Klein often turn to steroids to quickly build muscle and gain a competitive edge over their competition. However, the problem is that steroids are extremely addictive especially after bodybuilders see results in a matter of days rather than weeks or months. Thanks to the highly competitive nature of bodybuilding and the desperate cat and mouse chase for perfection, the immediate gratification from steroids is something most bodybuilders can’t pass up. If there’s a drug that can give them a quick improvement, they’ll do anything—even risk their health and well-being—to look bigger and better than before, which is exactly what happened to Klein.
Sadly, before the muscle-clad Illinois native could ever see his future unfold at the Mr. Olympia competition or even the Arnold Classic, Klein saw his career peak early in June 2001 when he was featured on the cover of Exercise magazine’s edition titled “Exercise for Men Only!” The edition featured many of Klein’s core workout routines and even promoted his workout videos on BigScottKlein.com where he invited aspiring bodybuilders to join him. “Get a chance to watch me pumping iron at my gym and then kicking back later in my home,” Klein wrote. “In Contention and Championship Strength not only can help you get a taste of what I go through every day, but also how I relax those burning muscles when I’m done.”
Nearly 14 years after his tragic death in 2003, Klein might be gone but he certainly isn’t forgotten in the bodybuilding and fitness industries as many believe he was well on his way to becoming a legend in the industry and likely would’ve graced the covers of modern-day magazines like Flex, Ironman and Muscle & Fitness. Instead, his short life serves as a reminder to aspiring and veteran bodybuilders alike of the real havoc that steroids and other performance enhancing drugs can do to a person’s body—both on the outside and on the inside.
Today, Klein’s legacy lives on through his website and his videos, which serve as a tribute to the former bodybuilder’s life and career. With most of the videos offered in VHS or PAL format, the site is truly a blast from the past with a media package featuring four glossy photographs of Klein in various bodybuilding poses as well as a place to purchase one-on-one training consultations over the phone at $100 for 45 minutes. And, while the links to purchase the videos and consultation no longer work, you can still see Klein in his true element by opting for a preview of clips like Scott Klein’s: Legs and Abs Workout or Championship Strength: Scott Klein’s Upper Body Workout. Other than that, the site stands as a rarely visited memorial to a man once praised as the next Mr. Olympia who saw a tragic end to a promising life and career.