Saved By The Bell star Dustin Diamond died on Feb. 1 at the age of 44. Diamond was hospitalized in January, and his cancer diagnosis was confirmed on Jan. 14. "We can confirm that Dustin does have cancer," Diamond's representative told People. "It's very serious, though we are still waiting for more details, which we will have shortly. He's in a lot of pain." His representative confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that his cancer was stage four. Although he was feeling "fine" that day, Diamond was "was fading in and out, feeling sleepy and tired. On top of all this he also has shingles, so he's been in a lot of pain."
"He's undergoing chemo so he will be there at least another week and then we will figure out when he gets to come home," the rep said. "By next week, we'll have a much better understanding of the severity of his condition and what treatments he will need so that he's comfortable." According to Diamond's representative, the health concerns began with "a huge lump on his throat."
Diamond began chemotherapy for stage 4 small cell carcinoma on Jan. 21. Small typically attacks the lungs, but can also be found in the prostate or gastrointestinal tract; in Diamond's case, his cancer began in another part of his body before metastasized in his lungs. Diamond's manager Roger Paul revealed to NBC News that Diamond would be starting a second round of chemotherapy and that he was focusing on keeping his spirits up in the face of a troubling diagnosis. "Dustin is looking forward to spending more time with his girlfriend, playing his bass guitar/video games, as well as making videos for his fans on social media," Paul said in a statement.
Diamond passed away on Monday morning, and his team released a statement about his death to Entertainment Tonight. "We are saddened to confirm Dustin Diamond's passing on Monday, February 1st, 2021 due to carcinoma," the statement read. "He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago. In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful."
Diamond had lived a troubled life since his time as a child star, getting arrested multiple times, writing a controversial memoir about his time on Saved By The Bell, and spending three months in jail after being involved in a Christmas bar fight in 2014. "We are aware that Dustin is not considered reputable by most," the statement continued. "He's had a history of mishaps, of unfortunate events. We want the public to understand that he was not intentionally malevolent. He -- much like the rest of those who act out and behave poorly -- had undergone a great deal of turmoil and heartache. His actions, though rebukeable, stemmed from loss and the lack of knowledge on how to process that pain properly. In actuality, Dustin was a humorous and high-spirited individual whose greatest passion was to make others laugh. He was able to sense and feel other people's emotions to such a length that he was able to feel them too -- a strength and a flaw, all in one."
"Dustin Diamond was a character in and of himself: an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored," his team concluded in the statement. "We are thankful he trusted us enough to share his genuine, authentic self with our team. We wish you knew him in the way that we did. We please ask that you give room for privacy to our team and Mr. Diamond's family during this tragic time, as we grieve and remember the memories spent together. This loss is as much stinging as it is sudden."
Since his passing on Monday morning, many of Diamond's Saved By The Bell costars shared their condolences online. "Dustin, you will be missed my man," Mario Lopez tweeted. "The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted. Prayers for your family will continue on..." Tiffani Thiessen also acknowledged Diamond's passing on Twitter. "I am deeply saddened by I the news of my old co-star @realdustindiamond passing," she wrote. "Life is extremely fragile and it's something we should never take for granted. God speed Dustin."
Despite an alleged troubled history, Mark-Paul Gosselaar also expressed sadness online about Diamond. "Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dustin Diamond, a true comedic genius," he wrote on Twitter. "My sincere condolences to his family and friends. Looking back at our time working together, I will miss those raw, brilliant sparks that only he was able to produce. A pie in your face, my comrade."