Sam Sarpong, the British-born model, actor and MTV host, has jumped to his death from a bridge in Los Angeles in an apparent suicide.
Sarpong, co-host of MTV’s Yo Momma, plunged to his death after trained police ‘suicide negotiators’ tried for several hours to talk him down after being alerted by members of the public to a man standing on the ‘wrong’ side of safety railings.
County of Los Angeles Medical Examiner spokesman Ed Winter confirmed the star died on Wednesday in an apparent suicide, but added that the official cause of death will not be known until the results of toxicology results come through.
Sarpong, a former face of Tommy Hilfiger who also appeared in campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Versace, Donna Karan and Gucci, is the brother of TV presenter June Sarpong. Miss Sarpong has released a statement paying tribute to her brother.
“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.”
A statement from his family read: “It is with great sadness that the family of Samuel Sarpong Jr. must share the news that Sam has passed away.
“The circumstances surrounding his death are currently under investigation and no additional details are known at this time.
“The family appreciates the thoughts prayers and other expressions of sympathy, and request their privacy be respected at this extremely difficult time.”
East London-born Sam, who was 40, had dual British-American citizenship. He moved to California when he was 11 and harboured dreams of becoming a professional basketball player before he took up acting and modelling. IMDb credits him with more than 70 film and TV roles. His success inspired him to launch his own line of clothing. Future Stars contained influences from his British and American upbringing accented with his Ghanaian heritage.
He won the MAA Fashion Award for Male Model of the Year, and twice was named by Today’s Black Woman magazine on their “Fifty Most Beautiful People” list.
Despite his successes his feet remained firmly planted. He told Brits Across the Pond: “’I’ve never understood when people start believing their own hype.
“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.”
Yo Momma co-host 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.”
British TV presenter and comedian Richard Blackwood tweeted Sarpong’s 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 presented Channel 4 show T4 with June wrote: ‘In total shock at the death of Sam Sarpong. My thoughts are with June and her family RIPSAM.’
News of the official cause of Sarpong’s death is expected to be released by Pasadena police by the weekend.