A morbidly obese amputee whose weight climbed to 642lbs has run for the first time in more than a decade after managing to shed almost half his body weight.
James ‘L.B.’ Bonner, 29, who is from Lexington in South Carolina, saw his weight spiral out of control after years of unhealthy eating as a child – made worse when he sought comfort in food after losing a leg to an ATV accident at 25.
Having already had his movement restricted by his size before losing his leg, when he hit 642lbs, James was so heavy there were fears his prosthetic limb would snap under the strain of supporting his frame.
But after turning to the surgeons on TLC show My 600lb life for help, the 29-year-old managed to shed a staggering 316lbs (22st) – and was fitted with a new prosthetic that allowed him to run on a track for the first time in 15 years.
After losing the weight L.B. was fitted with a new prosthetic, which allowed him to run again.
The show’s surgeons performed a gastric sleeve operation on L.B., but his initial progress was slow – it took two months for the first 38lbs (2st) to drop off.
The show’s Dr Nowzaradan referred him to therapist Lola Clay to try and establish the emotional issues behind his struggles with food, and L.B. admitted he felt his family were disappointed by his size – prompting him to seek comfort in still more food and drink.
After Clay helped L.B. to resolve things with his family, the relief appeared to ramp up his weight loss, as he began eating well and even took up cycling.
An ATV accident in 2013 damaged L.B.’s leg so badly that doctors were forced to amputate it.
Despite his increasing size and the loss of his leg, L.B. was still managing to get around on his own, and said he didn’t see a need to lose weight.
He revealed that his overeating began when he was overfed as a child by his doting Aunt Dora, who would spoil him because he was the only boy in the family.
‘I was adopted as a newborn because, after having three girls, my parents decided to adopt a boy, and so they got me,’ he said on the show.
‘Since I was the only boy in our whole family, I was the one who was going to continue the Bonner name, so it was like everyone was raising [me], including my aunt.’
In her own testimonial, L.B.’s mother recalled how she and her husband had always wanted a son, noting that they ‘felt so blessed to be his parents.’
‘Everybody wants to have a son, especially me,’ L.B.’s father Buddy said. ‘That’s all I dreamed of: having a boy, giving him my name, letting him carry on my life.’
Buddy explained that his entire family wanted to share in L.B.’s adoption. L.B. spent so much time with his Aunt Dora and Uncle Sam, he considered them second parents, calling them ‘Ma Two’ and ‘Dad Two.’
‘I was always excited to go stay with my aunt and uncle,’ he recalled. ‘Every time I would get down there, the first thing she’d do is go open up the cabinets and say: ‘Whatcha want?’
L.B. said his aunt always had beef sticks, pigs in the blanket, and snack cakes for him to munch on.
‘I guess that’s when I started associating that comforted feeling with food,’ he said, but his mom admits he was downright spoiled.
‘Whatever he wanted at night, if it was a piece a cake, if it was ice cream, whatever it was, Dora would get up and fix it,’ she said.
When he would finally come home after spending a couple of days at his aunt and uncle’s house, his mom said he would scream, cry, and refuse to go to sleep until he got the food he wanted.
L.B. admitted he ‘gained a lot of weight’ over the following few years of his life, explaining how he tipped the scales at 150lbs by the time he was just eight years old.
It was soon after that tragedy struck.
‘When his Ma Two died. It’s like this little boy was just crushed,’ his mom said. ‘It was just like his whole world fell apart.’
Although he was heavier than his peers growing up, L.B. didn’t let that stop him from playing sports in high school. However, a torn ACL ended any chance of him having a successful football career.
According to The Lexington Ledger, L.B. started partying and drinking heavily, which eventually led to him dropping out of high school.
As L.B.’s drinking increased, so did his weight. Things only got worse for him after his accident.
It wasn’t until the one-year anniversary of his best friend’s death in 2017 that he realized he needed to do something to change his life.
L.B. reached out to the producers of My 600lb Life, and the team paired him with Houston-based weight loss surgeon Dr. Younan Nowzaradan.