Dearon “Deezer D” Thompson, who played nurse Malik McGrath on the long-running NBC medical drama ER, died on Thursday at the age of 55.
Thompson’s brother Marshawn told TMZ that the actor was found unresponsive in his Los Angeles home. The family believes he died of a heart attack — he previously underwent open-heart surgery in 2009 — but an official cause of death has not been disclosed.
“What a special spirit we have all lost!” ER‘s Mekhi Phifer wrote on Instagram. “Since the first day I met him on the set of ER he absolutely made me feel at home and welcomed. My brother will forever be missed! Many condolences to his friends, fans and family. RIP Deezer D!!” Added Parminder Nagra, “This is so incredibly sad.”
Thompson recurred throughout all 15 seasons of ER, including the 1994 pilot and the 2009 series finale. All told, he appeared in 190 episodes.
Prior to ER, Thompson had a starring role in the Chris Rock film CB4. Additional credits included Bringing Down the House, The John Larroquette Show, and Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. He also worked as a motivational speaker and hip hop performer.
Lyn Alicia Henderson, who recurred on ER as Nurse Pamela Olbes, also paid her respects. “I am so sorry to hear of his passing,” she wrote. “He had a spirit that was bigger than life and we always had the best conversations! I loved his music, his love of God and his love for his family. He will be missed!”