Courtesy of DailyMail UK
- The British-born star had leaped to his death from a bridge aged 40.
- County of Los Angeles Medical Examiner confirmed he died Monday.
- Police are thought to have spent up to seven hours trying to talk him down.
- Sarpong was the face of Tommy Hilfiger and co-host of MTV’s Yo Momma.
- He is survived by his sister June Sarpong – a popular British TV host.
British actor and Tommy Hilfiger model Sam Sarpong, 40, has jumped to his death from a bridge despite family and police spending seven hours trying to talk him down.
The TV presenter, who co-hosted MTV’s Yo Momma show alongside Wilmer Valderrama, toppled from the Colorado Street bridge in Pasadena, Los Angeles.
County of Los Angeles Medical Examiner confirmed the star died Monday in an apparent suicide, but added that the official cause of death will not be known until the results of toxicology results come through.
Pasadena Police said that they were called to the bridge Monday morning after reports of a man standing on the outside of the railings.
Trained negotiators were called while members of his family provided information on his previous emotional state.
However, after seven hours, he fell to his death and was pronounced dead just before 4pm.
Today, his sister June Sarpong, a popular TV presenter in Britain, released a statement, paying tribute to her brother.
She said: ‘I love my brother very much. Sam was an amazing human being. His passing is a loss for the world.
‘I’d ask anyone who is going through tough times to seek help. Please talk to someone.
‘My family and I are in a state of shock, please allow us to grieve in private. Thank you for all your messages of condolence.’
While his management company, Advanced Management, said: ‘Devastated to hear that our friend and client @mrsamsarpong is no longer with us. Prayers and thoughts to the entire Sarpong family.’
Sarpong had been a sought after model and appeared in campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger as well as shows for top designers such as Gucci and Versace.
He also made fashion history by becoming the first black male model to do a Luis Vuitton editorial campaign.
The model, who had dual American-British citizenship later branched out into acting where he secured roles in television shows such as Veronica Mars and Bones.
Friends described him as being ‘the life of the party’, someone who loved life and would face every day with ‘a smile on his face.’
Sarpong moved to Los Angeles when he was 11 where he became a promising high school basketball star.
When his ambitions of playing professionally fizzled out, he turned to acting and modelling and he became the face of Tommy Hilfiger for six years.
He also launched his own clothing line Future Stars, influenced by both British and Californian styles which reflect his dual citizen upbringing.
He had previously attributed his success to his Ghanaian father.
‘I went from barely being able to pay my bills to now being an international model,’ he told Black Hollywood Live in July 2013. ‘I made a lot of money early. Luckily I had my father to guide me.’
The supermodel and musician has appeared in more than 60 feature films such as Love Don’t Cost a Thing and No Weapons, for which he won best lead actor at the San Diego Film Festival.
He also had numerous television roles including Everybody Hates Chris, Cold Case, and a small upcoming role as a neighbor in FX’s American Crime Story.
But while his success grew, Sarpong remained humble.
‘I’ve never understood when people start believing their own hype,’ he told Brits Across the Pond.
‘I’ve been at different levels when you’re not working and nobody will call you back and your friends aren’t around because you aren’t going to the cool parties. Then there’s times when you’re on a hot show, your billboard is everywhere and everyone’s feeling you, so when things are good I really enjoy it but I never get caught up in it.’
The Sarpong family have certainly had their fair share of success. While he was doing gaining a name for himself in America, his sister June was blazing a trail in the world of television across the Pond.
She was also an MTV host for its UK channel and went onto become a presenter for the long-running Channel 4 teen show T4.
June, who was awarded an OBE, has hosted numerous British TV programmes and is a regular at the MOBO Awards while she also runs her own production company, Lipgloss Productions.
Tributes have been pouring in on social media for her brother on social media.
His MTV co-star Wilmer Valderama said in a statement: ‘I am so sad and 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..
‘Find your peace my brother! And to everyone in a dark place.. PLEASE, please talk to someone.. Anyone.. Trust me that we WILL listen. My prayers and heart are with family and friends that were blessed to know his beautiful soul.”
Nick Cannon, who appeared also on Yo Momma alongside Sarpong posted a black and white picture of himself and the model with two other friends on Instagram.
He wrote beside it: ”#Crew #Love #RIP #SamSarpong We have to remember to lift each other up, because we all we got out here. #GreatSpirit #GreatSoul #GreatHeart #GoneTooSoon (sic).’
Hollywood actor Arjay Smith said: ‘Sending love and prayers to the friends and family of @mrsamsarpong We will truly miss you! U were the nicest and realist! #RIP #SamSarpong.’
New Girl star Lamorne Morris tweeted: ‘I don’t even know what to say. RIP Bro.’
Fox anchor Christine Devine said she was ‘shocked and saddened’ by the death of the star, who she described as being; ‘the life of the party.. an amazing energetic rapper, Tommy Hilfiger model, MTV host, actor.’
She also posted a picture of the star at one of the many charity events he was involved in.
‘The amazing Sam Sarpong… Giving his time to children in the hospital during Christmas. Sam, we miss you. RIP.’
Celebrity designer Leontine Abdullah added: ‘A Kindred Spirit…Gone too soon Rest In Peace fellow #designer #ripsam.’
Model Tyson Beckford tweeted: ‘RIP Sam Sarpong. You will be missed Homie!’
Film director Dale Stelly wrote: ‘May my friend #SamSarpong’s soul rise through the heavens…I told you life is so short nowadays.’
Rapper el Sid tweeted: ‘Awww @mrsamsarpong just last week we were laughing together…I’m going to miss you brother #rip #samsarpong.’
His friend Lyriq Bent tweeted: ‘Extremely sad to hear the passing of my old friend. #rip #samsarpong. You will be missed.’
Nzinga Blake added: ‘My heart is so broken to hear the news about the passing of our dear friend and brother Sam Sarpong.’
While British TV presenter Richard Blackwood tweeted his sister June: ‘@junesarpong I wanted to send you a direct message but I am truly sorry to hear about Sam! My heart goes out to you & your family.’
Vernon Kay, who also presented T4 with June wrote: ‘In total shock at the death of Sam Sarpong. My thoughts are with June and her family RIPSAM.’
Another friend, Richard Sanchez, posted: I found out my friend Sam Sarpong died today. When we were together we always talked about life, cracking jokes, laughing about random stuff, you where always enjoying life. Giving each other advice.
‘The funny thing is when we were each other we never really talked about the projects we were going to do with each other. He always had a smile on his face and the life of the party or where ever you were at. Sam was not just a close friend he was family. Sam you will not be forgotten. #samsarpong #rip.’
Jazen Anderson tweeted: ‘RIP Sam Sarpong! Unreal. Knew that dude for most of my life. Always positive, always hustling. Stay in touch with your loved ones man.’
• For confidential help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255