It is with a heavy heart that I post tonight. Many moons ago I reverted from a teenager, back to a pure kid again for an entire weekend at a Hilton Head resort. We knocked on doors and ran away, poured bubble bath into the jacuzzi and nearly broke the elevators. I was a tag along that weekend with a model friend and the late Lee Thompson Young at a Models of the South competition. My friend was all into her boyfriend whom she had dragged along, and Lee and I just ended up hanging out. Even though we had just met, we laughed like long-lost friends, the kind of laughter and joy that you just never forget. When he was chosen to go to New York I remember how he bounded down the hall shouting, “I did it! I did it!” He moved to New York after that and the only time I saw him again was on the screen. Every time I would see him, I would swell with pride. He was from my town, he was a great kid, and I knew him. Crushed doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when I heard his fate on the news this evening. He was at the height of his career, and doing so well. What reason would he have to end his life? It’s surreal, and so painful. I just want to know what happened to the happy kid that liked to pull pranks? Could it be that Hollywood is no place for kids; even in the safe arms of Walt Disney? On the heels of his death report I found myself watching highlights from the Oprah interview with Lindsay Lohan. Another child star train wreck added to the likes of Brittany Spears, Amanda Bynes, Macaulay Culkin, Miley Cyrus, Dannie Bonaduce, Mischa Barton, Nick Carter, Corey Haim, Dano Plato, Michael Jackson, and now Justin Bieber hot on their trail. There are many names that I’ve left out I’m sure with tragic stories of reaching fame too soon, and I used to think that parents were to blame. But Lee had fantastic parents. Even still, it’s hard enough to protect children in the real world where nothing is given to them and still raise them with integrity and character. Yet to raise them in a world where everything is given to them to the point they are worshiped, then when they are no longer popular, throw them out like yesterdays garbage, is a scenario in which it must be impossible to protect them. We’ve all craved fame once or twice in our lives, but perhaps when we see that’s it’s something our children crave, we can use painful examples like Lee to encourage them to educate themselves first before entering the gates of hell, I mean Hollywood. I don’t have all the answers, but I sure as hell can spot the problems. At some point in time we have to learn from our mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others.
Rest in peace my friend, we can’t begin to know your reasons, and we can’t pretend to have known your struggle. All we can do is love and remember you.