Sam Sarpong has died of an apparent suicide, aged 40, after jumping from a bridge in Pasadena, California.
The Independent reports that police spent several hours trying to talk the former MTV host, actor and model down from the ledge, but tragically their efforts were in vain.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office has released a statement to confirm that the case was being investigated as a suicide, but the cause of death would not be determined until a toxicology test has been completed.
Best known as the host of the MTV show Yo Momma alongside Wilmer Valderrama of That '70s Show fame, British born Sarpong is also a familiar face in the US from his career as a catwalk model for labels such as Gucci, Versace and Tommy Hilfiger. He also marked an important milestone for diversity in fashion when he became Louis Vuitton's first black male model in an editorial campaign.
Sarpong also had acting roles in numerous TV shows including including 24, Everybody Hates Chris, Bones, My So-Called Life, Veronica Mars and American Crime Story and starred in the 2003 movie Love Don't Cost a Thing alongside Nick Cannon and Christina Milian.
A representative for Sarpong has released a statement to the media about his death which reads:
"It is with great sadness that the family of Samuel Sarpong Jr. must share the news that Sam has passed away. The family appreciates the thoughts, prayers and other expressions of sympathy, and request their privacy be respected at this extremely difficult time."
Stars including Valderrama have begun leaving tributes to their late friend on social media, expressing their sadness and disbelief at Sarpong taking his own life. Read the touching messages below:
Wilmer's Instagram post also contains a tribute which reads:
I am so sad & so confused.. Sam did it all, believed in dreaming bigger than anyone around him.. We made memories together that will last us forever, thank you for sharing your talent with me and the world.. You were a light everywhere you went and I couldn't be more proud of the journey you traveled.. You just left us too early Sam.. We will miss you and pray for you.. Once again thank you for all those years you dedicated to our show, we couldn't have done it without you!
Find your peace my brother!
And to everyone in a dark place.. PLEASE, please talk to someone.. Anyone.. Trust me that we WILL listen.. You are not alone, there are so many people that feel the same darkness, let's help one another, let us shine hope on all those that need our understanding!! Reach out to someone and make your first step towards living a life you deserve.
My prayers and heart are with family and friends that were blessed to know his beautiful soul #RIPSamSarpong
If you or a friend are experiencing suicidal thoughts please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 any time, night or day. You are not alone.