What I Learned from the Death of Lee Thompson Young


It was so difficult for me to come up with a title for this post that could fully capture the emotions I felt when I learned about the death of Lee Thompson Young. Lee Thompson Young was one of my childhood crushes. I followed his career from The Famous Jett Jackson all the way up to his latest role as Detective Frost on Rizzoli and Isles. I even watched the short lived 2006 series South Beach on UPN just because he was on it.

To me, Lee (in my head we were on a first-name basis), was that clean-cut All-American guy who could easily charm parents and friends alike. My best friend texted me yesterday with the news of his death. A gunshot to the head was the last scenario I would have thought of.


The thing about childhood crushes is that it is hard to allow them to grow up. Especially ones like Lee who never lost his baby-face and gentle smile even when he moved on to more mature roles. Who knows what he was going through. Much like Glee’s Cory Monteith, Lee seemed to have it all going for him. Lee’s death has taught me that there is so much beyond the surface. And, while we can never see the invisible we can at least try to see in the visible. That is, take note of the verbal and nonverbal cues of those around us and provide as much support to others as possible. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives or troubles that we forget that other people may have harder battles to face and need our support.

Below are six ways to brighten someone else’s day today:

  1. Call a loved-one just to say “Hi."
  2. You have hundreds of Facebook friends, but only talk to a handful. Write a positive note on the wall of someone you haven’t connected with in a while. 
  3. Tell a friend something you admire about him/her.
  4. Write a letter of support to someone in your life that inspires you.
  5. Support a friend’s cause (ex/like their business page on Facebook, promote their band, go to their event.)
  6. Compliment a stranger.

One way to brighten your day:

This is something I learned from my mom. When someone asks you, “How are you doing?” say that you are “blessed” instead of just “fine,” “okay,” or “good.” It’s an unexpected answer to a common question that puts people off guard. I try to remind myself to do it, but I often find myself saying “good” even if I’m not. Last week, a co-worker asked me how I was and I replied, “I’m blessed.” It caught him off guard so much that he responded, “Wow! Not just good, but blessed!” The more I said it, the more I began to believe it. I’ll admit it—sometimes I sweat the small stuff so much that I forget how beautiful the big picture really is. We’re all blessed in one way or another.

Maybe this is something that Lee needed someone to remind him of, but I don’t know his life and can’t speculate. What I can say is that this is a good time for self-reflection for all of us. Are you living the life you want to live? Have you tapped into your passions? Do you have the support you need? Are you offering support to others? Take a moment to answer these questions.

Take it a step further:

Start a “Blessings List.” List out all of the things in your life that you are grateful for. Promise yourself to re-read and/or add to your list at least weekly.

Please don’t take Lee’s death as just gossip fodder. Use it as a learning moment.

(Image: Pandora’s Perspective)