The passing was confirmed on Tuesday (April 18) by Keith’s son Wes, who also played alongside his father on San Jan Del Sur. “He passed away this afternoon. He’d been battling cancer for the past few months, and we found out about it in January,” Wes told ET Online.
Keith’s brother, Kevin, also told the publication, “A life taken way too soon. It happened so quickly. Cancer ate him up. He passed this afternoon at his home in Shreveport, Louisiana.”
During his time on San Juan Del Sur, Keith became a fan favorite due to his down-to-earth personality and underdog spirit. While the strategic aspects of the game sometimes eluded him (“Stick to the plan.”), Keith never gave up fighting to make it one day further. In the end, he made it all the way to the final four, winning three individual immunity challenges on his way there. However, he was voted out just one day before the final tribal council.
Keith’s popularity with viewers saw him voted onto Survivor: Cambodia, a second chance season featuring 20 returning players. Once again, Keith made a deep run, finishing in fifth place.
Fans and fellow players shared their condolences and tributes to Keith on Tuesday night, including Survivor: Cambodia winner Jeremy Collins, who competed with Keith in both of his seasons.
“My condolences to the Big D, Wes, Austin and entire Nale family. You will be missed Keith but your legacy will live on. Rest in power my firefighter/survivor brother,” Collins tweeted.
My condolences to the Big D, Wes, Austin and entire Nale family. You will be missed Keith but your legacy will live on. Rest in power my firefighter/survivor brother. #RIPOtis pic.twitter.com/K2f8sMfYHm
— Jeremy Collins (@jeremy2collins) April 19, 2023
Kelley Wentworth, who also played with Keith in both seasons and was aligned with him throughout Cambodia, shared her memories of the beloved Survivor castaway.
“Keith – a man with the purest heart, who brought humor into moments where it was needed most,” Wentworth wrote. “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to meet Keith & share memories together on the beaches of Nicaragua & Cambodia. My heart is with the entire Nale family. This is a devastating loss.”
Check out more tributes to Keith from across the Survivor world below.
#Survivor needed Keith Nale. Someone who was wholeheartedly himself, whether it be getting spooked by idols, taking up a side hustle driving "to-to's," or reminding us the fun of cruises. RIP to a character who gave us 75 days of entertainment. My heart goes out to Dana & Wes❤️ pic.twitter.com/2YrEcSnShh
— Mike Bloom (@AMikeBloomType) April 19, 2023
Keith Nale was the first Survivor I ever interviewed on location. Seeing him in the Cambodian wild was truly surreal. I tried to capture some of that giddy feeling in my Second Chance profile. Posting for anyone who could use the read. Rest in peace Keith. https://t.co/9awzmYfY3g
— Josh Wigler (@roundhoward) April 19, 2023
Devastated to hear of the passing of Keith Nale, a truly iconic Survivor character. His uniqueness, entertainment & hilarity were pivotal to a golden era that solidified my super fandom. I’ll always look fondly on his place in the show’s history & its family. Rest well Keith ♥️
— Shannon Guss (Gaitz) (@ShannonGaitz) April 19, 2023
Keith Nale made everything more fun, and I’m grateful I got to know him. pic.twitter.com/tlmRIcIG4O
— Max Dawson (@fymaxwell) April 19, 2023