Little People, Big World patriarch, Matt Roloff, is usually a ball of positive energy — have you seen the photos with his grandkids?! — but the 55-year-old recently revealed a more serious side when discussing his younger brother, Joshua, who passed away before his fame.

“When Joshua was born — about two weeks before Christmas in 1964, when I was over two years old — my parents faced more childbirth trauma,” Matt detailed in his memoir, Against Tall Odds: Being A David In A Goliath World. “Only this time it was the uncertainty over whether their new baby would ever make it out of the hospital alive.” He continued, “Not long after the delivery the doctors diagnosed Josh as having severe heart and lung problems they thought would probably take his life before he was a day old.”

The father of four recalled spending many days in the hospital with him, but despite numerous surgeries, nothing could save his brother. “He has undergone several major surgeries, some by doctors who believed they could correct his condition, only to find out that his condition couldn’t be corrected,” he remembered. “He underwent another surgery to repair a brain abscess, and it was a miracle he lived through that. He also has scoliosis, a condition his doctors say could make it even more difficult for his heart and lungs to function as it worsens. He is faced with a true dilemma: He can risk his life undergoing corrective surgery for the scoliosis, or he can face eventual death as his spine curves more, making it harder for him to breathe.”

Josh passed away in 1999 when he was just 34-years-old, but Matt revealed there were countless times he cheated death. “He’s had many close calls with death, and Mom has had to resuscitate him more times than she cares to remember,” he continued. “Many times Josh’s heart and lungs have simply stopped functioning on their own, and on other occasions, he’s had seizures that would have taken his life had someone not been there to help him.”

Unfortunately for the Roloff clan, they encountered more health problems following his passing. Matt was born with diastrophic dwarfism, which left him with leg, hip, knee, shoulder, and arm problems. As a child, he spent a total of two years in hospitals undergoing various corrective surgeries and procedures and spent even more time at home in braces and casts. To this day, he still can’t stand up straight or walk without the aid of his crutches. Just last year, he endured neck surgery — which could have left him paralyzed — followed by an “intense few days” of recovery. His son, Zach Roloff, has also had numerous surgeries, including one very serious procedure that nearly cost the 27-year-old his life — he had excess fluid in his brain. Luckily, the fam seems to be healthier than ever these days!

Have a tip? Send it to us! Email In Touch at