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The Tragic Death Of Mark Balelo From Storage Wars

"Storage Wars" is one of the most surprisingly successful reality TV shows in recent history. After all, who would want to spend their precious free time watching other people fight over abandoned junk? Lots of people, apparently, based on the show averaging around seven million views per episode (RatingGraph.com). Perhaps it has something to do with people's love of finding treasure? After all, the show has been so influential that storage bidding auctions have seen a five-fold increase in business, according to NBC News.

Mark Balelo is one of the many "storage warriors" featured in the show over its 14 (and counting) seasons. He has six appearances in total, spanning the years 2011 to 2013. Balelo gained notoriety for his flashy style and love of flaunting his own small fortune after Brandi Passante nicknamed him "Rico Suave." He was pretty good at what he did, with an estimated net worth of half a million dollars at the time of his death (via The Richest). Balelo was a rising star in the storage auction community with a lot of potential, which made his passing in 2013 all the more tragic.

The Storage Wars cast member died in early 2013

According to TMZ, Mark Balelo was found deceased in his car, parked in the garage of his Simi Valley, California auction house on February 12, 2013. Later that day, ABC News confirmed that the Ventura County medical examiner's office ruled it an apparent suicide. This all came on the heels of some legal trouble that Balelo was struggling with at the time.

According to HollywoodLife.com, this wasn't the first time Balelo struggled with the law. He was previously arrested and charged with three drug-related felonies back in 2007. He ended up pleading guilty to one of them and served 60 days in jail back in 2009. He served another 45 days in jail in 2011 for a probation violation. A few days before Balelo's death, the "Storage Wars" star was arrested for a minor drug possession charge and for "being under the influence of a controlled substance." Balelo is survived by his fiancée, Elizabeth Metzidis.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.