UPDATED with police statement: Actor, producer, writer and model Sam Sarpong, who co-hosted MTV’s Yo Momma, died Monday in Pasadena, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed. He was 40.
A spokeswoman for the coroner’s office told Deadline a cause of death has not yet been determined. An autopsy is pending. Media reports say he died of a suicide, but the coroner’s office could not confirm that. The Pasadena Police Department did not identify Sarpong by name, but said they received a witness report Monday morning of an adult male who was standing on the outside of the Colorado Bridge in Pasadena.
“Numerous police officers and firefighters responded and closed off the bridge and the area below the bridge from public access,” the Pasadena Police Department said in a press release. “The individual demonstrated suicidal tendencies and members of the Pasadena Police Department Crisis Negotiation Team responded and established dialog with the male, (40 years of age and Pasadena resident). While conversing with the individual, members of his family arrived and provided background regarding his emotional state. Tragically, after approximately seven hours of communication, the male jumped from the bridge into the Arroyo. He was pronounced deceased by Pasadena Fire Paramedics at 3:52 PM.”
Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said in the statement: “It is sad and troubling when an individual has become so despondent that he or she feels their only option is to end their life. These incidents can often have a significant impact on the victim’s loved ones, first responders, and the community as a whole. My prayers go out to the family,”
Sarpong was born in London and moved to Los Angeles as a child. He went on to co-host MTV’s Yo Momma with Wilmer Valderrama and also served as host of the BET Awards pre-show All Access. He recently was cast in a small role as a neighbor in FX’s American Crime Story: The People vs O.J. Simpson. He also recurred on Bones and was scheduled to appear in an upcoming episode of Average Dad. He also had a role in Fox pilot Studio City, which did not go to series.
On the film side, Sarpong had a starring role in 2010’s Anchor Baby and also appeared in No Weapons, among others. He had a role in the upcoming feature Trigger. As a model, Sarpong walked the runway for designers including Versace, Donna Karen, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Phillppe and Ed Hardy. He also was a member of the hip-hop/pop group the League and recorded a solo EP, Lose My Mind, which is featured on VH1’s Hit The Floor.