Nelson Thomas Reveals How ‘The Challenge’ Helped Him Accept Impending Foot Amputation; Says He’s Open to Returning to the Show One Day

As Nelson Thomas prepares to have his right foot amputated next week, The Challenge star has revealed who and what has helped him to accept his fate. 

As The Ashley previously told you, Nelson suffered severe injuries as the result of a near-fatal car accident in March 2023 in which the 35-year-old was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. 

Despite undergoing numerous hospitalizations, surgeries and physical therapy sessions in an attempt to save his foot and ankle, Nelson revealed earlier this month that he will be having his foot amputated March 5– exactly one year after his accident. 

This week, Nelson told People that he turned to religion as an “outlet” to help him  throughout his recovery and now participates in Bible study twice a week. Nelson said his ‘Challenge’ family has also provided him with support, while his experience on the show itself has made him more resilient. 

“I think God built me for this,” Nelson said. “I’m used to people staring at me or looking at me: ‘Is that the guy from TV shows? Is that Scuba Nelly?’ I was used to that attention. But now people are looking at me because of this prosthetic.”  

Being involved with ‘The Challenge’ also helped Nelson find a new hobby during his recovery over the last year.  

“The reason why I picked up a guitar was because [‘The Challenge’ host] TJ [Lavin] said, ‘Look, Nelson, I’ve been in your shoes before. I’ve been in and out of the hospital. I know the alone times, those dark times. You need to find something that you love to do and put your energy into that. And shut off that social media, shut off that negative stuff,’” Nelson told the outlet. 

(As fans may remember, TJ was critically injured in a BMX accident back in 2010.) 

Nelson said his BFF and fellow ‘Challenge’ competitor Cory Wharton has also been a huge supporter throughout his recovery journey, telling People that the Teen Mom: The Next Chapter star has been there for him “since Day 1.” 

“Me and Cory shed tears together on the phone,” Nelson said. “He came down here for my birthday. Cory’s been one of my No. 1 supporters.” 

Earlier this week, Nelson joined Cory and his family on a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, after which Cory gave his bestie a shoutout on social media to commemorate their fun day. 

“ … Outta all my friends, Nelson has always been the best with my daughters, and I’m forever thankful for that,” he wrote. “I want you guys to keep him in your prayers for March 5th. He’s going to amputate his leg, it’s been a long year & he deserves to be happy!! I pray he can finally start to recover … .” 

Nelson said other members of ‘The Challenge’ family have reached out to him over the last year as well, including Amanda Garcia, Wes Bergmann and CT Tamburello.

“They actually called me because they saw all the articles that dropped,” he said. “They knew what I was going through– I never dealt with that before.” 

Nelson noted that ‘Challenge’ champ Jordan Wiseley has also been a “big inspiration” to him, as Jordan has taken home three ‘Challenge’ wins, despite being born without four fingers on his left hand. (Jordan– whose brother happens to be an amputee– was born with a rare congenital hand condition called symbrachydactyly.) 

While Nelson and Jordan were close before Nelson’s accident, the two have grown even closer over the last year. 

“Me and Jordan, we’re bothers,” Nelson said. “That’s one of my best friends, as close as Cory, I might say. I definitely could relate to Jordan and what he’s gone through, and how he’s brought himself up even when he doubted himself. 

“ … One thing he did tell me, he said, ‘Nelson, don’t give up. Don’t let this stop you from doing what you want to do in life. Because if there’s a will, there’s a way. I’ve been there. I’ve been doubted, having one hand. My brother’s been doubted. We just have to learn to adapt. It might be hard sometimes, but you can do it,’” Nelson recalled. 

While Nelson’s ‘Challenge’ career hasn’t included a final win, he isn’t giving up on the possibility of making that happen one day; however, he said he’s leaving his future with ‘The Challenge’ in God’s hands. 

“ … it’s not what I want anymore. It’s what He wants for me,” he said. “And if that opportunity presents itself, heck yeah! If ‘The Challenge’ calls, I would definitely pick up that phone. But I don’t know what He has in store for me.” 

Either way, Nelson assured fans his that life as an amputee will be a full one. 

“I’m going to own it,” he said. “I’m going to conquer the world and I’m not going to let nothing stop me. Watch me do amazing things.” 

RELATED STORY: ‘The Challenge: All Stars’ Returns With Exes, “Old-School Legends” & More: Meet the Cast & Watch the Season 4 Trailer

(Photos: MTV; Instagram) 


  1. Unpopular opinion, and I don’t care- remember when he sacrificed himself for cory bc he was a father? Yes he messed up royally, and he really got the karma from it. But he has done good things and I wish him the best recovery. There are people who are so selfish and would screw whoever to win. So I’m gonna focus on that. I’m not diminishing what he did- yes it’s terrible and thank god he didn’t hurt anyone else- I’m just saying. He’s no Jenelle

    1. Serial killers often do nice things too….

      That’s not to say he’s a serial killer, but he has said he frequently “parties and drinks, then drives home without thinking about it”. No good he does, especially on a scripted reality tv show, will soften that.

      Everyone is entitled their opinion, but I disagree wholeheartedly, as he really isn’t a good person. In my opinion, no one who drives under the influence (especially often), thereby giving no fucks about anyone else in the world, is a good person. He keeps running to the media to play the “give me sympathy card, look how I’m rising above”. He’s not sorry he did it, he’s sorry he got called out and caught.

      I take the privilege of having a license at all seriously. I consider driving under the influence beyond serious and worthy of severe punishment in all cases, no exceptions. I realize that too, isn’t a popular opinion. The fact that people (not necessarily you, just, people in general) don’t take it as serious as they should, is why the laws surrounding it and the punishments doled out are so lax. If they weren’t so lax, he’d be in jail and no one would be giving him the time of day to sell his story.

      1. Wow, I’ve never heard someone argue with such grace. Sincerely. I totally understand what you’re saying. TBH, I don’t follow him often and if it’s a frequent no big deal thing to him my stance is very different. Anywho, I appreciate the respectful argument. Kudos to you. On a side note, usually dui offenders go to jail then get bailed out and are on a probation. My sister had one, she rear ended someone completely drunk, and she completely changed after. She wasn’t a bad person, just thought she was ok and didn’t realize how if affected her driving. It’s ignorance, not making excuses at all just saying, sometimes people are blissfully ignorant. Anyway, thank you for making you point respectfully.

        1. I can respect that people don’t share my opinion on people who drive under the influence. I have a very strong opinion of not just the behavior, but people who do it. It usually comes across very crass, sometimes intentionally, lol, sometimes not.

          Some years ago my family was involved in a bad crash (coming home from an event). The cause was a drunk driver (also blissfully ignorant of the effects, as most are) who wasn’t speeding but did go over the line, just long enough. Two vehicles were damaged, aside from his. Two people went to the hospital with severe injuries, one with minor. Three people; a young mom, her unborn baby, and her toddler, were killed. Mom and unborn died on impact when their car was hit by another. The toddler died, painfully, on the side of the road in someone’s arms, waiting for help.

          I don’t paint that picture to be a jerk (I realize, it’s horrible), but that’s the reality of driving under the influence, more often than not. It’s a whole different picture when you’re there and you can see/hear/smell everything-and keep it with you for life. That’s what it can cause, in the blink of an eye, even without being at a high rate of speed or the erratic driving most associate with it. It takes a split second, that’s it. The drunk driver didn’t even get hurt-which is very common. I realize many understand how serious it can be, but this explains my own perspective a bit more I think and why I personally take it as seriously as I do.

          Some people can take their poor life choices and use them as a learning experience, some can’t. Most people who get a DUI say they’ll change, but it’s not actually all that often they do. Many are repeat offenders, they just don’t get caught. So kudos to your sister for changing that behavior.

  2. I do think Nelson is a good person, but I really do hope he learned his lesson about drinking & driving. He needs to forget the Challenge now & figure out something else for his life.

  3. If you think you can participate in a game show, you can get a J-O-B

    I’m so over MTV welfare. Between the Teen Moms and these Challenge, folks.. ugh.

  4. I’m over seeing articles about this guy. He’s like another Cory. I think that’s his name. He gets drunk and drives and crashes and loses a foot. Deal with it.

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