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Najee Richardson has spent the offseason regrouping and preparing for season 12

The Flying Phoenix has been busy working on his physical and mental strength.

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Najee Richardson’s past few seasons on American Ninja Warrior haven’t been the smoothest. But he’s making the most of this unexpected extended offseason to turn the tide.

After a heartbreaking failure on the Water Walls in season 10 (which we later found out was due to asthma), Najee experienced more bumps in season 11. He competed in Baltimore, where he missed the buzzer in Qualifiers while attempting the Mega Wall. The City Finals course included Angry Birds and, well, we all know what happened there. Najee did make it to the National Finals, but fell on Stage One.

While Najee was certainly disappointed, he posted on Instagram that, “Even before I stepped on that platform I had already been defeated. In so many ways I thought this season would be one that I’d be totally content with never talking about again. lol But in retrospect with all that’s happened since, this season was probably the BEST thing that’s ever happened to me. It forced Change, Confronting of bad choices, and most importantly Growth. It taught me lessons, showed me who my true friends were, allowed me to strengthen relationships with those friends and loved ones and even create new memories and friendships.My experience from surviving Vegas has not only made me a stronger athlete, but mentally and emotionally strong as well.”

Since then, the Flying Phoenix has been busy working on his physical and mental strength. See for yourself.

It definitely took me a minute to figure out where the ball was coming from on this one

Could you complete this hanging maze???

The Flying Phoenix is back! He placed 3rd in a UNX Competition behind two young guns that Najee had previously trained.

Najee explored a new talent—voice acting.

He was a mentor on season two of American Ninja Warrior Junior and picked up some inspiration from the junior Ninjas.

How did he spend quarantine? Bored, just like everyone else!

Najee also participated in Ninja Talks, spoke up about his frustrations with racism and the deaths in our country (A content warning: the video contains short clips of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd’s murders), and shared what motivates him to keep going when he feels weighed down by the world.

Najee is using this time to connect with himself. We can’t help but feel like that’s going to give him extra confidence when we get to see him on the obstacles again. We can’t wait to see what Najee does on the course when season 12 resumes!