Former Disney actor 'tragically took his own life'

FORMER Disney star Lee Thompson Young has died aged 29 after apparently committing suicide.

The American actor, who gained fame as the teenage star of the Disney Channel's The Famous Jett Jackson, was also known for roles in Scrubs and Smallville.

Police confirmed that Young's body was found at his North Hollywood home on Monday after he failed to show up for work filming TNT crime drama Rizzoli & Isles.

The Los Angeles Fire Department pronounced him dead at the scene, according to police Officer Sally Madera.

No official cause of death has been announced but Young's manager Paul Baruch said the actor "tragically took his own life."

Ms Madera said in a statement that Los Angeles police detectives and the Los Angeles County coroner's office would launch a joint investigation "because it is a high-profile death".

According to TMZ, the actor died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"Lee was more than just a brilliant young actor, he was a wonderful and gentle soul who will be truly missed," Baruch said.

"We ask that you please respect the privacy of his family and friends as this very difficult time."

Young played police Detective Barry Frost Rizzoli & Isles, a popular crime drama also starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander, which had just been renewed for another series by TNT.

"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.

Young started his acting career aged 10 when he played Martin Luther King Jr. in a play staged in his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.

From 1998 to 2001 he appeared in The Famous Jett Jackson as a TV action hero who returns to his roots for a less high-profile life.

He also made appearances in The Guardian, Scrubs and Smallville and in the films Akeelah and the Bee, Friday Night Lights and The Hills Have Eyes II.

Young also appeared ABC television series FlashForward in which his character committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.

Speaking about the role in 2009, Young said: " The fact that he saw himself [in the near future] on the phone with a lawyer, talking about a case in which he accidentally killed the mother of two small children …He [my character] was trying desperately to figure out if there was any way he could change that."

"And, in the meantime, everything in everyone else's flash forward seemed to be coming true, step-by-step, so he was unable to sleep at night. He was depressed, frustrated, angry. He felt powerless. And, in the end, he finally decided that this is how he could change that.

Young, a graduate of University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, was a keen photographer, traveller and student of martial arts.

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