Dustin Diamond has died following a cancer battle, ET can confirm. He was 44 years old. A member of Diamond's team confirmed the sad news to ET on Monday.
"We are saddened to confirm Dustin Diamond’s passing on Monday, February 1st, 2021 due to carcinoma," the statement reads. "He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago. In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful."
Diamond's team -- whom he had worked with for 21 years -- also acknowledged some of the negative headlines he generated in later years, including for his multiple arrests. In 2016, Diamond went to jail for three months for his involvement in a bar fight on Christmas Day in 2014.
"We are aware that Dustin is not considered reputable by most," the statement reads in part. "He’s had a history of mishaps, of unfortunate events. We want the public to understand that he was not intentionally malevolent. He -- much like the rest of those who act out and behave poorly -- had undergone a great deal of turmoil and heartache. His actions, though rebukeable, stemmed from loss and the lack of knowledge on how to process that pain properly. In actuality, Dustin was a humorous and high-spirited individual whose greatest passion was to make others laugh. He was able to sense and feel other people's emotions to such a length that he was able to feel them too -- a strength and a flaw, all in one."
"Dustin Diamond was a character in and of himself: an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored," the statement continues. "We are thankful he trusted us enough to share his genuine, authentic self with our team. We wish you knew him in the way that we did. We please ask that you give room for privacy to our team and Mr. Diamond’s family during this tragic time, as we grieve and remember the memories spent together. This loss is as much stinging as it is sudden.”
According to TMZ, who was first to report the news, his health had declined greatly since last week and he was taken off breathing machines. According to the outlet, his girlfriend was at his side when he died.
Back in October, Diamond notified a member of his team about a lump on his throat, assuming it could be thyroid cancer, but he was hesitant to visit the hospital due to COVID, his team also shared with ET. His doctors were hoping that by undergoing chemotherapy, he would prolong his life a few more years.
Diamond was best known for playing the character Screech on Saved by the Bell, though he did not appear in the show's recent reimagining, which premiered on Peacock last year. After news of his cancer diagnosis broke, some of his former co-stars showed their support for him, including Mario Lopez, who played A.C. Slater on the beloved '90s sitcom. He Instagrammed a throwback of the two together alongside a more recent one of them side by side.
"I connected with Dustin earlier this evening and although the news of his diagnosis is heartbreaking, we remain positive that he'll overcome this," Lopez wrote. "Praying for him & his family and for a speedy recovery. God Bless."
Meanwhile, in a November interview with ET, another one of Diamond's former co-stars, Elizabeth Berkley, remembered him as "kind."
"I wish Dustin nothing but the best," she said at the time, noting that she was unsure if he would ever make an appearance on the Peacock revival. "I just haven't seen him for a lot of years but I do wish him the best. He was always kind to me."