Lee Thompson Young, who began his acting career as the teenage star of the Disney Channel’s The Famous Jett Jackson and was featured in the film Friday Night Lights and the series Rizzoli & Isles, was found dead on Monday, police said. He was 29.
There was no official cause of death, but Young’s manager, Paul Baruch, said the actor “tragically took his own life.”
Young’s body was found at his North Hollywood home by police on Monday morning after he failed to show up for work on TNT’s crime drama Rizzoli & Isles, police Officer Sally Madera said. The Los Angeles Fire Department was summoned and pronounced him dead at the scene, she said.
Los Angeles police robbery-homicide detectives and the Los Angeles County coroner’s office were investigating because it is a high-profile death, she said. Madera had no details about the cause of death.
In the TNT series, Young played fledgling police Detective Barry Frost, who’s computer savvy but squeamish. Earlier Monday, the channel announced it was renewing the series that stars Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.
“We are beyond heartbroken at the loss of this sweet, gentle, good-hearted, intelligent man. ... Lee will be cherished and remembered by all who knew and loved him, both on- and offscreen, for his positive energy, infectious smile and soulful grace,” TNT, studio Warner Bros and series producer Janet Tamaro said in a joint statement.
They sent condolences to his mother and other family members.
According to a biography from TNT, Young was inspired to pursue acting when, at age, 10, he played Martin Luther King Jr. in a play in Young’s hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.
In 1998, Young began starring in The Famous Jett Jackson, playing a TV action hero who returns to his roots for a less high-profile life. The series ran until 2001.
Young followed it with roles in TV series, including The Guardian, Scrubs and Smallville and in the films Akeelah and the Bee and The Hills Have Eyes II. Young joined Rizzoli & Isles when it debuted in 2010.
“I’m the youngest member of the cast, so I really take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that I find myself surrounded by,” Young said in a 2011 interview with the website Rolling Out.
Young, a graduate of University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, was an as an avid photographer, traveller and student of martial arts, according to his biography.