Before I began watching the Challenge, I decided that I would binge as many Real World seasons as possible to get myself accustomed to the Challenge universe. The first season available on Hulu at the time was Real World Back to New Orleans. The first person I ever met through the television in this Challenge universe was Ryan Knight. And from there I was hooked.
In the opening scene of Real World NOLA 2, we see Knight on the ice playing hockey, the sport he loved the most. Even with his messed up teeth, his smile was incredible, it emitted charisma and joy. Knight talks about the joy he gets from being the most hated person on the ice in the same way a person would talk about their loved one. You can tell from the get-go, he is the friend you have who is kind of an asshole, but he is also the funniest person in the room who is chill to hang out with. No matter what they do to make you angry, they still manage to make you smile moments later even if you don’t want to.
He goes on to explain his addiction to pain medicine that began after separating both of his shoulders playing hockey in college. Being six months sober, he is being sent to party hub New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Addiction is something Knight struggled with his entire life, and it is heartbreaking to re-watch these shows knowing maybe he should not have been part of this pseudo-celebreality party world. Then again, maybe Ryan Knight has the same type of life except under darker circumstances. At the least, America got to see a Knight who could make everyone laugh and make everyone angry. Ryan Knight was a real human being, one we do not often see on television in 2018.
During the Real World New Orleans, Knight’s goal was to hook up with Jemmye. Their relationship was fun to watch. Knight wanted to make his Jemmye his girl and wanted to have her. However, everyone remembers the famous night where a super duper drunk Jemmye cries in the house wanting Knight. Knight hides from her in the shower, not wanting to have to deal with any responsibility. When she finally finds him hiding, she walks off crying. He then goes off to comfort her and allows her to call her mom. Jemmye blurts out some incoherent drunk screech/babble. Knight picks up the phone assures Jemmye’s mom he will take care of her.
Jemmye Wants Knight (Video Clip) | MTV
Mardi Gras finds Knight hiding from a drunk and crying Jemmye.
Their relationship existed after show as they dated for a year, broke up, and had a weird relationship during the three seasons of the Challenge they filmed between 2012 and 2014. They were never together, yet they had this weird chemistry where even though they were fighting 95% of the time, it kind of seemed like they were flirting. You could truly never tell with the two.
His biggest Real World fight was with a girl named Sahar. Knight made fun of her and belittled her singing ability on the show, making her upset on more than one occasion. At the same time, Knight was also real with her and could bring joy to her face. The two hung out after the show all the way up until his passing. He threw Nany’s clothes in the pool and picked on her all of Battle of the Seasons. On Rivals 2 and Exes 2 they became close friends with late night pool talks. Knight was like your mean older brother who at the end of the day, you could rely on to pick you up when the stakes were at their highest.
Knight could light up a television screen with his mere presence. A chubby guy with a Wisconsin accent does not get on Real World often, and they definitely are not the star of a season. A non-competitive guy does not get cast for multiple seasons of the Challenge, and they do not get as far as Knight would despite not being a good competitor. Even with all the rough moments he had, Knight had a magnetic ability about him that made people want him to be there.