December 6, 1979 |
|Spouse(s)||Michael Ward (2006-2007)
Kyle Kendrick (2010-present)
Stephenie LaGrossa (born December 6, 1979) was a contestant in Survivor: Palau, where she placed 7th., Survivor: Guatemala, where she placed second and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, where she was the second person voted out and placed 19th. She was one of the most popular players ever to play the game, with her popularity peaking at 97% (her final popularity ended at 92%). LaGrossa was an In-Arena host for the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL, and currently works for the radio station WRDW-FM. She is also one of the owners of GIGI Restaurant & Lounge in Old City Philadelphia.
As the youngest child and only daughter to Stephen and Marguerite LaGrossa, her name was a variant of Stephanie, yet spelled so it would look like her father's name. She grew up in Glenolden, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Archbishop Prendergast High School in 1998, and she went to Temple University, before transferring to Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. She was a four-year starting varsity lacrosse player at both schools, a multiple Northeast Conference All-Conference and Academic Honor Roll selection, and captain of the team in her senior year at Monmouth. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with concentrations in marketing and management.
LaGrossa is a former territory sales representative for a pharmaceutical sales company and now models and makes personal appearances. On July 7, 2006 she married longtime boyfriend Michael Ward in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, the same town where they originally met. They were divorced in early 2007.
In 2009, LaGrossa became engaged to Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick. They were married on November 13, 2010. On February 22, 2011, the couple announced they were expecting their first child in September. The couple welcomed their first child, a girl named Sophia Marguerite Kendrick, on September 3, 2011. On July 30, 2013, Stephenie gave birth to their first son.
Subsequent to her divorce, and prior to her engagement to Kendrick, Stephenie had a brief relationship with Shane Victorino, the Phillies' center fielder at that time. This did not appear to create any friction in the club house, however.
In the beginning of the game, LaGrossa made an early alliance with Katie Gallagher, Tom Westman, and Ian Rosenberger. When the tribes were picked, LaGrossa ended up on Ulong, while Katie, Tom, and Ian were put on Koror, thus alienating Stephenie from her alliance.
In episode 2, Ulong won the reward challenge and they received a fishing spear, a snorkeling set, and flint. This helped bring up the spirits of the Ulong camp. However, Ulong later lost the immunity challenge, forcing them to go the tribal council. The tribe was torn between Kimberly Mullen who was the weakest competitor and who seemed to not care, and Ashlee Ashby, who seemed unsure if she wanted to stay. In the end, Stephenie sided with most of her tribe and voted out Ashlee.
On Episode 5, it was revealed that both tribes would face tribal council that night. The winner of the reward challenge would have their tribal council and then move aside to watch the other tribe's council while eating beef stew and root beer. Koror easily won the reward challenge. After Koror held their tribal council, they voted to give Ibrehem Rahman immunity, knowing he was the worst competitor in challenges. In Ulong's initial vote, Angie and Stephenie voted for Bobby Jon Drinkard, while Bobby Jon and James Miller voted for Angie. In the re-vote, Ibrehem, Stephenie, and James all voted for Angie, sending her home.
In Episode 6, Stephenie and the rest of Ulong was upset about Ibrehem being given immunity by Koror at the last tribal council. In the reward challenge, Stephenie hit the final target for her team and won a Pringle and Mai Tai feast. During the feast, Bobby Jon and Stephenie made an alliance pointing out that James's strength was weakening and Ibrehem was the weakest member on the team. Ulong later lost the immunity challenge and was faced with having to go to tribal council for the sixth time in a row. During the vote, James and Stephenie voted for Ibrehem, while Ibrehem and Bobby Jon voted for James. However, during the re-vote, Stephenie changed her vote to James, thus sending him home.
On Episode 7, Bobby Jon and Stephenie reaffirmed their alliance and promised that Ibrehem would be the next to go. Ulong lost the reward challenge yet again, giving Koror a crate full of supplies. Ulong went into the immunity challenge tired, but determined to win, however, Koror finished their puzzle first giving them immunity. Before facing tribal council, Stephenie was unsure if Bobby Jon remained true to his deal, and made a back-up alliance with Ibrehem. However, it was unneeded as Bobby Jon stuck true to his word and Ibrehem was voted out.
In Episode 8, Ulong was down to only two members. Stephenie said she felt discomfort at losing challenges but was still eager to win. After Ulong lost the reward challenge, Bobby Jon blamed himself for the loss which scared Stephenie. Later on, Ulong lost the immunity challenge, and with it being impossible to vote either member off. Stephenie and Bobby Jon participated in a fire-making elimination challenge. Before they started, they both admitted they were uncomfortable with the thought of being adversaries. Stephenie won the fire-making challenge, thus sending Bobby Jon home. Stephenie then had to walk back to the Ulong camp alone.
In Episode 9, Stephenie receives a letter in tree mail telling her to pack up her belongings and travel to the Koror Camp. She happily leaves her campsite and officially joins Koror. Everybody at Koror welcomes her with open arms but most of them agree that she is a huge threat to win the game due to her strength. Coby Archa later approaches Stephenie and tells her all of Koror's strategies and alliances, which angers most of his teammates. At the immunity challenge, Stephenie bails out for food, and Tom Westman wins immunity. At tribal council, Coby once again revealed more strategies of his teammates and complained about Tom and Ian Rosenberger's leadership. His complaining ultimately gave him the first boot and saved Stephenie from elimination.
In Episode 10, Stephenie was still on the outs of the Koror tribe. In the reward challenge, she was put on a team with, Katie, Ian, and Jen Lyon. Her team ended up losing and the other team was rewarded with a Palaun Feast. In the immunity challenge, the first person to bail out would be sent to Exile Island. Janu Tornell was the first to give up and Tom won immunity. Back at camp, the tribe was torn between voting for Janu, who no one liked, but some players, mainly Gregg Carey and Ian, wanted to keep her because she could be gotten rid of whenever, or Stephenie, who was a big threat. At tribal council, Janu revealed she was fed up with all her tribemates, and quit the game, once again saving Stephenie.
In Episode 11, after surviving another Tribal Council, LaGrossa tried to shake things up by pulling the remaining females, Katie, Caryn Groedel, and Jenn, into an alliance to get rid of the strong males, Gregg, Ian, and Tom. Instead of a reward challenge, a Survivor Auction was held, and each contestant was given $500 in U.S. cash. LaGrossa used her money to buy a double cheeseburger, French fries, a soft drink, a mystery item which was shared with Caryn, and a letter from home. Later, in the immunity challenge, Tom broke one of Ian's tiles, giving Ian immunity. Once again, LaGrossa tried to pull the girls into an alliance, but Caryn spilled the plot to the men. At tribal council, despite strong lobbying, LaGrossa was unanimously voted out.
In the final episode, she returned as a member of the jury to vote for the winner. She ended up voting for Tom Westman.
In her final words, she said that she was "totally psyched", having made it to the final seven when she thought she was a "dead man walking" coming into Koror. But despite her seventh-place finish, she was considered one of the most memorable and popular survivors, due to her physical strength, likable character, and the fact that she outlasted an entire tribe.
LaGrossa became the second person after Kelly Wiglesworth (Survivor: Borneo) to change her vote in tribal council. She is the very first person to change the vote twice in one season. First, from Bobby Jon to Angie when five Ulong members remained in the game, then from Ibrehem to James when four Ulong members remained in the game.
LaGrossa attended all tribal councils in the game (whether as a player or as a jury member) except Koror's tribal council at which Willard was voted out, and the impromptu tribal council at the final immunity challenge, giving her the record for the most tribal councils attended by a single player in one season.
In one of the bigger twists at the start of the 11th season of Survivor, Survivor: Guatemala, LaGrossa and Bobby Jon Drinkard returned as players to the game. Stephenie was the opposite of her character in Palau, and played a more cutthroat game, and made it to the final 3 along with Rafe Judkins and Danni Boatwright.
In the final 3, Boatwright, who had won the immunity during an endurance challenge, and chose to take LaGrossa instead of Rafe Judkins. Boatwright's decision turned out to be the right one, as LaGrossa lost by a 6-1 vote to Boatwright in the final 2.
Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains
LaGrossa was a contestant in the 20th season of the show titled Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. She was a member of the Heroes tribe and was voted off in the second episode after she was labeled kryptonite by fellow cast member James Clement due to his repetitive statements that whatever tribe she is on, it will be destined to fail. She was in an alliance with Tom Westman and Colby Donaldson and they were forced into the minority by the other contestants including Clement who all had a pre-existing alliance from Survivor: Micronesia as well as several ties from outside the game. She was eliminated 6-3 despite an effort to target Amanda Kimmel.
- "...in Palau I seemed to be the perfect princess, this time I was competitive and sometimes the bad guy. I played competitively both times. I think there is a happy medium to me. I’m not perfect or horrible. I’ve always had to work hard for everything I’ve gotten in life. I went in to bust my butt and I hope people can respect me for that. I played the game the way it was designed to be played..."
- "Coming into the game, I didn’t think I would get far. But when I did, there were only two people who were blindsided on the jury. After Jamie and Judd were in the jury, it became obvious that I was the right person to take to the end – back at Jury camp, one bad seed spoils the bunch. That was when it became obvious I couldn’t win."
- "Popularity Results". Survivor: Palau. CBS.com.
- "Kyle Kendrick and Stephenie LaGrossa are engaged | Philadelphia Inquirer | 07/14/2009". Philly.com. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- "Survivor's Stephenie LaGrossa Gets Married". People.com. 2006-07-12.
- ""I Played the Game the Way It Was Designed to Be Played": An Interview with Survivor: Guatemala’s Stephenie". Reality News Online. 2005-12-12.