Johnny Ruffo: Fans left emotional over Spotlight's special tribute for star

The program followed Johnny around for six months after he discovered his brain cancer had returned.

Channel Seven's Spotlight aired a special tribute episode in memory of Johnny Ruffo last night, leaving many fans emotional.

The episode featured Johnny's good friend and Home and Away star Lynne McGranger, partner Tahnee Sims, and former X-Factor judge Guy Sebastian, and was filmed in 2021 before his passing.

The one-hour special followed Johnny's journey, from becoming a nationwide name after appearing on 2011's The X-Factor, going on tour with One Direction, winning Dancing With The Stars, and landing a spot on Home and Away.

Johnny Ruffo and Lynne McGranger
The late Johnny Ruffo and Lynne McGranger. Photo:

However, it was in 2017 when everything changed for the star, after a series of bad migraines. He and Tahnee detailed how one night Tahnee was cooking dinner, when Johnny started slurring his speech and mixing up his words. The pair ended up going straight to the hospital, with Johnny later slipping into a coma that night.

They then found out he had a brain tumour, and if they hadn't gone to hospital that night he could've died within weeks.

Johnny's rush to hospital

“I had a 7cm tumour in my right frontal lobe, which is more or less the size of my fist, and they had to operate immediately,” Johnny said.

After the surgery and discovering the tumour was cancerous, Johnny went through extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy, before going into remission in 2019.


But it was only a little while later the cancer returned, with the star suffering from numerous seizures in 2020.

“From memory, I had 11 seizures in four days, so I don’t remember a lot from those four days,” Johnny said, with Tahnee adding: “He was, I would say, semi-conscious for probably like nine days."

Johnny's brain cancer was incredibly rare, accounting for less than 1 per cent of all brain tumours.

Tahnee Sims and Johnny Ruffo
Johnny Ruffo and his partner Tahnee Sims. Photo:

Johnny's good friend Lynne McGranger said if his life wasn't overtaken by illness, he would've gone on to even greater things.

“I think had his illness not got in the way, he might’ve gone on to do even bigger and better things,” she said.

'A beautiful tribute'

People flocked to the comments on Channel 7's page after the tribute aired.

"Lovely tribute so sad and hard to watch but very true! Such an incredible story and inspiring man!" one person said. "Life is short and unpredictable enjoy every moment here and tell people you love them."

"Just a gorgeous tribute. I bawled. The poor darling but he is free of his pain now," another said.

Johnny Ruffo spotlight special
Channel 7's Spotlight broadcasted a moving tribute to late actor and singer Johnny Ruffo. Photo: Seven

"A special tribute to a very special guy who was well loved by all of Australia!" another person said.

Many also praised Tahnee for her commitment and dedication to Johnny.

"Beautiful tribute for a beautiful soul. Rest peacefully Johnny," one person commented. "As for Tahnee you are one amazing soul."

"A very moving and beautiful tribute to an amazing couple who obviously loved each other. Their positivity was inspiring," another said. "RIP Johnny and sincere condolences to Tahnee and Johnny's family."

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