LOS ANGELES >> Lee Thompson Young, who began his acting career as the 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 today, 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.”
“Lee was more than just a brilliant young actor, he was a wonderful and gentle soul who will be truly missed. We ask that you please respect the privacy of his family and friends as this very difficult time,” Baruch said in a statement.
Young’s body was found at his North Hollywood home by police this 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.
LAPD robbery-homicide detectives and the Los Angeles County coroner 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 Barry Frost, a computer savvy — but squeamish— police detective. Earlier today, TNT 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, S.C.
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, traveler and student of martial arts, according to his biography.