UPDATE: Disney Star Lee Thompson Young, 29, Dead of Suicide
UPDATE 9/3/2013 1:07 p.m. (PST): TMZ reports Lee Thompson Young died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to his death certificate. UPDATE 8/19/13 6:58 p.m. (PST): TMZ reports that Lee Thompson Young did not leave a suicide note. He was last seen on Saturday.
UPDATE 8/19/13 11:50 a.m. (PST): Lee Thompson Young's publicist confirmed that the actor did indeed die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, releasing the following statement to TMZ: "It is with great sadness that I announce that Lee Thompson Young tragically took his own life this morning ... Lee was more than just a brilliant young actor, he was a wonderful and gentle soul who will be truly missed."
ORIGINAL STORY: It’s another sad day in Hollywood as actor Lee Thompson Young has been reported dead of an apparent suicide. The 29-year-old actor was found by his landlord in his LA home with a gunshot wound, presumably self-inflicted.
Lee rose to stardom on the Disney show The Famous Jett Jackson, on which he played an actor who was trying to fit into normal life while his star rose. He also starred as running back Chris Comer in the film version of Friday Night Lights. Most recently, Lee has been a recurring character as Detective Barry Frost on popular TNT show Rizzoli & Isles.
When Lee did not show up for work this morning, production staffers called Lee’s landlord, who found the actor dead. This story is currently developing and Wetpaint Entertainment will have updates as more information is released.
Janet Tamaro, creator, writer, and executive producer of Rizzoli & Islestweeted her grief after news broke, posting, "We are all without the words to truly express our collective grief and profound sadness at the loss of such a sweet, bright light." Followed by a second tweet with a hashtag now trending, "We are broken-hearted. #RIPLeeThompsonYoung"
Gleestars have been quick to tweet their condolences, too. Grant Gustin tweeted, "RIP Lee Thompson Young. So so sad." Harry Shum, Jr. echoed Grant's sentiment: "Feeling incredibly sad about Lee Thompson Young. My heart goes out to his family and friends. #gonetoosoon." In a heartfelt pair of tweets, Amber Patrice Riley expressed her disbelief; she tweeted, "Man… RIP #LeeThompsonYoung#JettJackson," then continued, "Everything that glitters isn’t gold. You just never know, that just tore me up a little. Man…"
"Man..." is about how we're feeling right now, too.
A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Lee got his on-stage start telling folktales about the area at community events. At age 10 he played Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a local theater production and decided he wanted to pursue acting. Two years later in 1996, he moved to New York with his mom, and started getting commercial and stage work. He attended The Professional Performing Arts school, a public school that allows its students to pursue their careers in the arts while working on high school graduation, along with Alicia Keys and Jesse Eisenberg. The next year, he landed his breakout role as Jett Jackson.
Lee started breaking into serious television and film roles almost immediately after the end of Jett Jackson, landing roles across networks and genres. Besides Friday Night Lights and his regular gig on Rizzoli & Isles, Lee was instrumental in story arcs on The Guardian, South Beach, Xiaolin Showdown, Scrubs, Smallville, FlashForward, and others, in addition to playing Devon in the 2006 feel-good film hit, Akeelah and the Bee. At 17, Lee started a film production degree at University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, while continuing to work as an actor. He graduated in 2005 with honors.
As long-time fans of Lee Thompson Young, we at Wetpaint are deeply saddened by this loss and wish peace for his family and friends.