A Look Back at Tommy Ford’s Career: from Harlem Nights to Hit ’90s Sitcom Martin
Johnny Louis

This story was originally published on PEOPLE.

Fans said goodbye to Tommy Ford on Wednesday when the actor died at the young age of 52.

Born Thomas Mykal Ford, the actor was hospitalized earlier in the week and died on Wednesday, the actor’s agent confirmed to PEOPLE. In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, his family stated: “It is with great sadness that we announce the untimely passing of our beloved Son, father, brother, husband, and friend Tommy Mykhal Ford. On behalf of the family, we would like to thank everyone for their love, support and prayers. Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming. Please respect the privacy of the Ford family during our time of grief.”

Though widely known for his costarring role on Martin, Ford began his career in 1985, and appeared in a short horror film called Deathly Realities.

Roles in television shows and TV films quickly followed, until he landed a roll in Eddie Murphy’s 1989 film Harlem Nights, where Ford played Tommy Smalls opposite the film’s stars Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx.

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Ford continued acting, appearing in the 1990 Brad Pitt film Across the Tracks as Coach Walsh. He starred in TV shows such as Singer & Sons as Reggie Patterson that same year. The show was nominated for one Primetime Emmy for outstanding achievement in main title theme music.

He was also cast in a 1990 episode of Law and Order before finally landing the role of a lifetime in Martin Lawrence’s Martin sitcom in 1992.

Ford played Tommy Strawn on the comedy, one of Martin’s best friends, until it ended in 1997. The show aired a total of 132 episodes and earned the actor a 1996 Image Award nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series.

After the show ended, Ford’s next performance was as Lt. Malcolm Barker in the TV series New York Undercover from 1998 to 1999. He made appearances on The Jamie Foxx Show, The Parkers — which starred Mo’Nique — and lent his voice to Disney Channel’s The Proud Family as Mr. Webb.

Ford was cast in Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes? in 2006 as a host for eight episodes. Before his death, he was filming the crime film Pantheress and had completed roles in three films, with two others in post-production, according to his IMDb page.

Since the actor’s hospitalization over the weekend, a source told PEOPLE that his costars traveled to Atlanta to be with him, including Tichina Arnold who “dropped everything” to be by his side. Ford is survived by his wife, Gina Sasso.