US sitcom star Tommy Ford dies at age of 52
Tommy Ford, the actor who played Martin Lawrence's best friend Tommy Strawn on the hit 90s sitcom Martin, has died at the age of 52.
The actor played the level-headed pal for the show's entire five-year run. One running joke was about his apparent lack of employment, prompting the catchphrase: "You don't got no job, Tommy!"
"It is with great sadness that we announce the untimely passing of our beloved son, father, brother, husband and friend Tommy Mykal Ford," the family said in a statement.
"On behalf of the family, we would like to thank everyone for their love, support and prayers."
Family spokeswoman Joy Pervis confirmed Ford's death in Atlanta but gave no cause.
In recent weeks, Ford had posted on Instagram about having knee replacement surgery and said he was being diligent about physical therapy and looked forward to returning to work.
Ford had other TV parts, including Lieutenant Malcolm Barker on Fox's New York Undercover, and Mel Parker on UPN's The Parkers, as well as playing the Pope of Comedy on TV One's Who's Got Jokes with Bill Bellamy.
Several celebrities paid homage to Ford through social media, including Cedric the Entertainer and Rickey Smiley.
"Prayers up for my brother," Lawrence posted on Twitter.
Before Martin, Ford landed a spot in the 1989 Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor film Harlem Nights. He co-produced, co-wrote or starred in such films as Baby Mama's Club, Against the Law, Beat Street Resurrection and Love Different.
The towering Ford, whose height was said to be 6ft 4in, was also a motivational speaker and a children's book author.
The actor's website said he had been focusing on building a career behind the camera. He had directed and produced several webisodes, and was filming Reverse The Lynch Curse, a documentary about breaking curses of distrust and envy.
Ford was also involved in several theatre productions.
The family said funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.
"Please respect the privacy of the Ford family during our time of grief," the statement said.