clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

You can’t watch Najee Richardson’s first run and that’s important to his story

New, 2 comments

From a completely unremarkable start rose one of the sport’s best competitors.

Eddy Chen/NBC

This week, as we’ve taken a closer look at some American Ninja Warrior “firsts/lasts,” we’ve shared a few famous first runs. Today, we want to talk about a first run that you can’t watch and why that’s important to know.

Najee Richardson is a downright epic Ninja Warrior. We’ve seen him beat the Mega Wall. We’ve seen him make it all the way to Stage Three of the National Finals. In season 12, we saw him stop to use his inhaler on the course (Najee has asthma) and still go on to beast the whole thing.

But you can’t go back and watch his very first run online. Why? Because it was completely unremarkable and didn’t even make the broadcast. And that might be why he’s the legend he is today. Let us explain.

First, here’s Najee’s season seven submission tape. This is when the producers were first introduced to the former gymnast and aspiring actor who was ready to become a Ninja Warrior.

Najee was selected for the show and ran the Pittsburgh Qualifying course. Where... he fell on Snake Crossing, only the third obstacle on the course. Needless to say, he did not make it to the City Finals. His run was left on the cutting room floor and that could have been it for Najee.

But it wasn’t.

Motivated by his failure and with a taste of the experience he needed, Najee went away and trained harder than ever. The producers gave him a second chance in season eight and he made it all the way through Stage One of the National Finals (falling on Stage Two). The ball was rolling on his career.

In season nine, we got runs like this from Najee as he barreled his way to Stage Three of the National Finals.

In season 10, he was pulling off performances like this.

Season 11 wasn’t quite as glamourous, although he still made the National Finals. But in season 12, Najee proved once again to never doubt him by delivering runs that had us all emotional.

Najee ended up in the top eight for the season and raced in the Power Tower playoffs against Austin Gray.

And all of this, all of these accomplishments, are due in part to a first run so unremarkable that you can’t watch it.