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Tragic Details About The Cobra Kai Cast

"Cobra Kai" has been an unqualified success for everyone associated with the series — for veteran stars/executive producers Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso) and William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence) to its upcoming roster of young talent and behind-the-scenes creatives. During its time on both YouTube Red and Netflix, the show has enjoyed sizable viewership numbers and award nominations, and for returning stars like Martin Kove (John Kreese) and Yuji Okumoto (Chozen Toguchi), it's been a chance to reframe their relationship with the "Karate Kid" franchise, which has often overshadowed other titles in their bodies of work.

Unfortunately, success can't always overcome personal and professional setbacks, and the cast of "Cobra Kai" has experienced their share of both. From major names returning to the series to the actors who found stardom on the show, many of these stars have dealt with physical injuries, tragic losses, and emotional struggles. Be warned that we'll be bringing up spoilers as we take a look at the tragic details about the "Cobra Kai" cast.

Mary Mouser and Gianni DeCenzo both struggle with type 1 diabetes

Mary Mouser, who plays Samantha LaRusso, and Gianni DeCenzo, who earns laughs as her Miyagi-Do classmate Demetri, share more than just a screen credit. Both actors have type 1 diabetes, a less-common form of the chronic condition in which the pancreas doesn't produce insulin — a hormone that helps your body process glucose, or sugar, into energy. Individuals with type 1 diabetes are often very hungry or thirsty, experience blurred vision, and frequently feel tired. In some cases, it results in a condition called ketoacidosis, which releases dangerous amounts of a substance called ketones into the body.

In an interview with MEAWW, Mouser said that her initial diagnosis made her feel very alone, and she struggled to overcome that sense of isolation created by the condition. As she put it, it was a feeling of "[being] separated from my family and all these people who were trying to be there for me but you just don't understand that there's this wall in your life, you don't get this massive change that just happened in your life." But as she told Entertainment Weekly, she's accepted her condition. "Now, I'm just like, 'Yeah, this is my insulin pump. You want to hear all about it, I'll tell you."

It also helped her bond with DeCenzo between takes on "Cobra Kai." Mouser said, "I was like, 'Oh, you drink Diet Cokes, I do that because I'm type 1 diabetic.' And he was like, 'Yeah, me too.' Out of all the people in the universe, he got diagnosed in that little window of time where we didn't now each other really that well, which I thought was really kind of cool."

Jacob Bertrand knows all too well about being bullied

The transformation of the tormented Eli Moskowitz to the hyper-aggressive Hawk is one of the more compelling storylines in "Cobra Kai." Eli's facial scar –- the result of cleft lip surgery -– makes him a target of bullies at school, which prompts him to join Cobra Kai. As a result of Johnny's aggressive training, Eli undergoes an extreme attitude adjustment, adopting a take-no-prisoners stance that translates into championships for the dojo but also an unfortunate (and ironic) predilection for bullying, especially of his close friend Demetri.

Actor Jacob Bertrand, who plays Eli/Hawk, knows all too well about the pain of being bullied. In a 2018 interview with Fanfest, he said that he related to Eli's experiences, explaining, "I was bullied a lot as a kid, all through elementary school." He went on to add, "I don't really get why people do that. It sucked -– I hated it."

Having said that, he found Hawk's 360-degree transformation not only exciting to portray but also a little cathartic. "It was weird kind of diving back into a character that had that similar backstory," Bertrand told Entertainment Weekly. But Hawk's fight with his own tormentor, Brucks, in Season 3's "King Cobra," allowed him to use his past experiences to motivate his performance. "That was a pretty emotional scene," he recalled. "I was definitely letting a lot out in that take."

Peyton List mourned the death of a costar

The death of "Descendants" and "Jessie" star Cameron Boyce in 2019 devastated many of his friends and peers in the Hollywood community. Among these was "Cobra Kai's" Jacob Bertrand, who posted a heartfelt tribute to his friend on social media, recalling that the pair met when both were up-and-coming actors. "I always felt like you were the coolest guy in the room," wrote Bertrand, adding, "You've touched more than you know with your kindness."

Peyton List, who stars as tough Tory Nichols on "Cobra Kai," played Boyce's older sister on "Jessie" and wrote eloquently about her heartbreak after Boyce suffered a seizure in his sleep. "Cameron, I love you with every ounce of me, and I thank you for the time I had with you, being in my life and being my brother forever and always," she wrote on her Instagram account.

List also linked to The Cameron Boyce Foundation, a non-profit devoted to finding a cure for epilepsy and raising awareness about gun violence, on her Instagram page. In 2020, she asked fans to donate to the charity as part of her Give Me $5 Holiday Campaign.

Elisabeth Shue paid tribute to her late brother

Academy Award-nominated actress Elisabeth Shue's career includes such critically acclaimed features and series as "Leaving Las Vegas," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "The Boys," and two "Back to the Future" films. However, her turn in "Karate Kid" as Ralph Macchio's love interest, Ali Mills, remains one of her best-remembered roles — one that she reprised in "Cobra Kai."

Though Shue has seen her share of success, her life has also been marked by tragedy. Her brother, William, was killed in an accident while her family was on vacation in 1988. Shue, who witnessed the incident, was profoundly affected by her brother's death. In a 2007 interview with The Chicago Tribune, Shue said that she remained very emotionally affected by her brother's passing. "It's still very emotional, yet I am starting to realize that even though it's going to be emotional for me forever, Will's spirit lives on."

Shue, her two other brothers, and her husband (filmmaker Davis Guggenheim) paid tribute to William with the 2007 film "Gracie," which detailed the life of a young soccer player who, like Shue, played for an all-boy's team. The film also detailed the main character's grief over the sudden death of her brother.

OG Karate Kid star Rob Garrison died in 2019

Of the many cast members from the "Karate Kid" franchise who appeared on "Cobra Kai," few enjoyed as poignant a showcase as actor Rob Garrison, who played Tommy in the first feature and appeared briefly in "Karate Kid Part II." Though best remembered for his iconic snotty comment ("Get him body bag! Yeah!"), Tommy showed that he was more than just a follower. His dismay over Kreese's tactics during the All Valley championships earned him a beating from his teacher, which in turn prompted him to quit Cobra Kai.

Garrison worked in features and on television throughout the '80s and '90s, and he remained active in local theater before returning to the "Karate Kid" universe to reprise Tommy in Season 2's "Take a Right." The episode saw Johnny and fellow Cobra Kai alum Bobby (Ron Thomas) and Jimmy (Tony O'Dell) spring a sick Tommy from a hospital, with the quartet revisiting -– and re-examining — the good old days before Tommy passes away. Sadly, Rob Garrison also passed away shortly after the episode's airdate. The 59-year-old had been hospitalized for kidney and liver issues for a month prior to his death in September 2019.

Playing Kreese has cost Martin Kove happiness

As "Cobra Kai" has shown viewers, John Kreese is more than just the "sweep the leg" villain seen in the "Karate Kid" features. Kreese developed a talent for mercilessness in Vietnam, for sure, but that attitude has cost him over time. His post-combat stories about special military operations are a fabrication, and his inability to work with others lands him in a homeless shelter in Season 1. However, his need to dominate gets the better of him in subsequent seasons in the form of Terry Silver, who rips away possession of Cobra Kai and has his former platoon mate arrested.

In several interviews, Martin Kove has said that Kreese's darker side is something that he struggles to keep in check off-camera. "A lot of John Kreese has fallen into my personality that, unfortunately, has caused some problems for me," Kove told TheWrap.com, adding, "It falls into other things you're doing in your life, and you've gotta be careful." When asked to explain, Kove noted, "I've had several different tumultuous relationships –- same relationship, but very tumultuous. I think a lot of it has to do with the values of John Kreese. And you think you'll overcome them because you're Martin Kove –- but they're still in there very subtly. They're a driving force."

Kove's "Cobra Kai" co-star, William Zabka, supported Kove's assessment in an interview with Variety. Though Kove isn't like Kreese in real life, Zabka said, "Marty has a piece of Kreese in him that when it's amplified, it's this monster Kreese. He'll admit it, off-set sometimes in different situations, that character –- he has to push him back down."

Khalil Everage has experienced his share of loss

Khalil Everage, who plays Hawk's reluctant henchman on "Cobra Kai," stepped up to leading man status with the 2019 drama "Beats," which paired him with Anthony Anderson as outsiders united by their love for music. Everage shares a number of traits with his character, August, in "Beats." Both have passion for and experience with music. Everage was a vocal performance major at the Chicago High School for the Arts before making his screen debut on an episode of "The Chi" in 2019. His father also sang in his local church choir, and his uncle is Grammy-winning gospel singer Jonathan McReynolds.

Everage also understands the pain that drives August to withdraw from the world around him. In the film, August is traumatized after witnessing his sister's death at the hands of a gunman. Everage lost his father, Khaldun Everage –- an acclaimed community outreach specialist and project manager for the Chicago Crime Commission –- in 2012, as well as several friends to gun violence.

Cobra Kai was one of Ed Asner's final TV roles

Veteran character actor Ed Asner played Sid Weinberg, a retired film producer and Johnny's stepfather, in three episodes of "Cobra Kai" between Seasons 1 and 3. If there's a root cause for Johnny's antagonistic behavior, a direct line can be drawn to Sid, a spiteful jerk whose relationship with Johnny is based purely on tearing the younger man down. Sid's behavior is eventually seen as the impetus for Johnny to seek out a sense of purpose in Cobra Kai, which offered a new, if equally abusive father figure in John Kreese. Johnny eventually settles the score by stealing a valuable piece of art from his stepfather and pawning it to pay for Miguel Diaz's (Xolo Maridueña) surgery.

A seven-time Emmy winner, Asner was best known as the cantankerous Lou Grant on the seminal sitcom "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and its dramatic spinoff, "Lou Grant." His career began in the Chicago theater scene in the 1950s, where he helped to form the Compass Players, an improvisational troupe that gave rise to the Second City. Roles on Broadway led to guest parts on TV series like "The Untouchables" and "The Outer Limits," which preceded his successful run on "Moore" and "Lou Grant."

Asner remained astonishingly busy throughout the '90s and 2000s through countless voice-over acting roles, including Carl Fredricksen in "Up," and supporting parts in features like "Elf" (as Santa Claus). TV remained his most consistent showcase into the 2020s via appearances on "Dead to Me" and "Grace and Frankie," among many other series. A president of the Screen Actors Guild and dedicated supporter of various human rights issues, Asner died of natural causes at the age of 91 in August 2021.

Dee Snider's devastating losses

Legendary metal vocalist Dee Snider plays a pivotal role in Season 3's "Miyagi-Do" when his thunderous '80s anthem "I Wanna Rock" gets Miguel to tap his foot, proving that his injuries aren't as debilitating as he and Johnny feared. It's a fun moment that pulls together many of the elements that make "Cobra Kai" memorable — the heavy nostalgia vibe, the power of besting a major obstacle, and the joy of gentle self-parody.

Snider was the leather-lunged frontman for New Jersey-based hard rockers Twisted Sister from the mid-1970s to its farewell tour in 2016, and he's worn a number of hats in the entertainment industry, including actor ("Strangeland"), voice-over performer, radio host, reality TV star, and free speech/human rights advocate. Though he's enjoyed success on many fronts, Snider has also experienced his share of tragedies. His brother-in-law, Vincent Gargiulo, was murdered in broad daylight by violent criminal Christian Tarantino in 2003. And in 2021, he revealed that his mother, retired art teacher Marguerite Snider, had died after suffering serious injuries in a 2018 car accident.

Carrie Underwood shouldered a lot of physical and emotional pain

Country superstar Carrie Underwood lent an extra degree of sparkle to the Season 4 finale "The Fall" when she performed "The Moment of Truth" (a song originally recorded by Survivor for the 1984 "Karate Kid" movie) at the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament. Underwood's appearance was full of the professionalism and upbeat persona she projects every time she steps on stage. It's an attitude that sometimes runs contrary to the many personal challenges she's faced in her life.

Underwood has faced both physical and emotional issues during her time in the spotlight. A fall outside her home in Nashville, Tennessee, left her with a facial injury that required more than 40 stitches. She recovered quickly from that incident, which came on the heels of a tragic string of pregnancy complications between 2017 and 2018. Underwood suffered a trio of miscarriages during this time period before finally giving birth to her son, Jacob, in 2019.

In 2022, Underwood revealed that she had lost her beloved dog, Ace, on the night of the Grammy Awards ceremony. Ace had been more than a pet to the singer — the rescue terrier was a part of her family, as evidenced by a conversation with People magazine in which she revealed that Ace would walk her down the aisle at her wedding to husband Mike Fisher in 2010.

Stunt man Gabriel 'G-Rod' Rodriguez took his lumps in an alleged altercation

Actor and veteran stunt performer Gabriel "G-Rod" Rodriguez showcased both sides of his talent on Season 3's "Aftermath," which cast him as a belligerent bar patron who runs afoul of Johnny while the latter is nursing his sorrows in a bottomless round of beers. Rodriguez's brawn is put to the test in the scene, which sees him dragged through a broken car window, but he lends authentic quiet intensity to his dialogue as well.

Rodriguez's toughness has made him a go-to for stunt work on series like "The Walking Dead," "Better Call Saul," and "Stranger Things," as well as features like "The Suicide Squad." In real life, he was allegedly attacked by four members of Machine Gun Kelly's entourage, who reportedly assaulted Rodriguez in 2019 when the actor made disparaging comments about the musician.

TMZ posted video of Rodriguez challenging Kelly in regard to alleged comments made about rapper Eminem, which in turn allegedly led to a violent altercation with Kelly's bodyguards. At the time of the incident, Rodriguez told TMZ that he would drop an intended lawsuit if Kelly stepped into the ring with him and settled their differences "without goons or weapons."