Lee Thompson Young came from a long line of storytellers. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, he first picked up the family craft at the age of ten, when he would tell traditional folk tales of the Carolinas at local festivals and community events. Young’s passion for acting began not long after. Still at the age of ten, he took on his first role, portraying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Phyllis Wheatley Theater’s original play, A Night of Stars and Dreams. The experience of playing Dr. King was deeply transformative, and after that Young realized his ideal career would be that of a professional actor.
In 1996 at the age of twelve,Young and his mother moved to New York City, and he began to audition professionally. That year he booked several commercials and a co-starring role in the ensemble play House Arrest, written by Anna Deavere Smith. The following year, 1997, Young landed the starring role in a pilot that would become The Disney Channel’s first original series, The Famous Jett Jackson. Young starred as Jett Jackson for three seasons and in a made for TV movie.
In 2001, at the age of 17, Young was accepted into the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. While pursuing his undergraduate degree in film production, Young continued acting, appearing in the films Friday Night Lights, Akeelah and the Bee, the made for TV movie Redemption, and guest starring in CBS’ The Guardian, ABC’s Philly and UPN’s Kevin Hill. In 2005 Young graduated from USC with honors, and went on to become a series regular in UPN’s primetime drama South Beach. Young continued to concentrate on building his body of work, guest starring on CW’s Smallville, Fox’s Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, ABC’s Scrubs, and co-starring in the film The Hills Have Eyes 2. In 2008, Young signed a talent development deal with ABC Studios that culminated in a critically acclaimed seven-episode arc on the drama Flash Forward. In 2010,Young became a series regular on TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles where he portrayed the role of Detective Barry Frost for four seasons.
Young is survived by his mother Velma, father Tommy, sister Tamu, brother-in-law Stephen and two beautiful nieces. An amazingly warm and kind man, Lee was cherished in life and will be remembered fondly by all.