What happened to Jessie Graff? Her injuries and recovery detailed

Jessie Graff

Jessie Graff’s time on American Ninja Warrior is littered with firsts. She has pioneered the entry of women into the beloved strength and endurance competition, earning a legion of adoring fans along the way. Before Ninja Warrior, Graff was a stuntwoman, appearing in many productions, including X-Men: First Class, Sons of Anarchy, and Make it or Break It

Graff was one of Gal Gadot’s stunt doubles in Wonder Woman 1984. Jessie originally ran the American Ninja Warrior course dressed as a chicken but changed to superhero costumes to inspire young fans. 

Jessie is an adored character on American Ninja Warrior. Therefore, we understand why fans were disappointed that Jessie Graff didn’t appear in season 13 of the obstacle course competition. 

Key Points

  • Jessie suffered severe injuries in season 12 of American Ninja Warrior, forcing her to sit out season 13 of the competition to focus on recovery and rehab.
  • Graff was unprepared for season 12 of American Ninja Warrior, performing through the pain and ending up with aggravated injuries by the end of the season. 
  • Jessie has completed the challenging recovery phase and has recovered enough to resume competition – she’s set to appear in season 14 of American Ninja Warrior. 

Jessie sat out American Ninja Warrior season 13 to focus on recovery

In February 2021, Jessie Graff announced via Instagram that she’d decided to sit out season 13 of American Ninja Warrior. She wrote:

“Part of me keeps trying to calculate whether I will regain my strength in time, but the reality is that I won’t be fully healthy until a few months after the qualifiers. This time, I’m being smart and responsible, so I can heal and come back stronger than ever.”

Graff posted a song called Sit it Out, based on Florence + the Machine’s hit Shake it Out. Actress Kari Wahlgren sang Jessie’s version. Sit it Out played alongside clips of Jessie’s injuries, rehab, and recovery. 

Jessie, a fierce competitor, sat out season 13 on the advice of friends and family. Some of them appeared in the announcement video, including familiar faces like show announcer Matt Iseman and professional rock climber Meagan Martin.

“Thank you so much @kariwhalgren for singing my lyrics!” Graff wrote. “And to my friends and family who encourage me to be smart and ‘sit it out!’”

Graff revealed via the song’s lyrics that staying away from the competition wasn’t easy, but she needed to recover and rebuild her strength. Some of the lyrics state:

“Build a foundation that can keep me safe/ With treatment and rehab almost every day/ If I’d like to keep those tissues strong, I’ve gotta be patient/ But it takes so long.”

Patience seems to have paid for Jessica, as her social media posts show that she’s recovered enough to perform stunts. It’s unclear whether she’s ready to return to American Ninja Warrior’s obstacle course, but she’s made great strides in her recovery. 

American Ninja Warrior season 12 - Jessie Graff
Photo by Elizabeth Morris/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Graff rushed her recovery to make it to season 12 of American Ninja Warrior and paid the price

Injuries have played a starring role in Jessie Graff’s career trajectory. She told USA Today that returning to American Ninja Warrior motivated her to overcome a knee injury she suffered in season 6. 

Graff tore her TCL, ACL, and meniscus, preventing her from participating in her regular exercises. Per the publication, Jessie thought, ‘I need a goal. I need something to focus on, [to] put my physical energy into. I’m looking at Ninja Warrior.’

“Without that knee injury, I never would have changed focus,” she said. Graff dedicated eight months to recovery, ensuring that she was ready for the next season of American Ninja Warrior

However, before season 12 of the competition began, Graff wasn’t ready. She’d competed at less than 100% before, so she decided to take on the challenge regardless of the pain. 

In late May 2022, Jessie wrote on Instagram that she participated in American Ninja Warrior Allstars six months after a shoulder injury, and she aced the competition. She said:

“When this episode of allstars was shot, I was 6 months out of one shoulder surgery and 9 months out of the other shoulder and knee repair. I knew I could run in a straight line, but was scared to jump to the rope. After careful calculations, I concluded that I was strong enough to be safe and went for it.”

Unfortunately, Jessie couldn’t repeat the same heroics in season 12. The compromised stunt woman pushed herself too far, aggravating her partially healed injuries. Sit it Out plays:

“I was a fool and I ignored the pain/ I could never rest, I overtrained/ Before I rebuilt, I fell and hit the ground.”

Sitting it out wasn’t easy, but it was the right decision. The song continues: “It’s hard to sit with your friends doing flips/ Sit it out, Sit it out/ Take it slow.”