Martin star Tommy Mikal Ford died Thursday at the age of 52. For Martin fans, Ford needs no introduction. But for everyone else: Ford played fan-favorite Tommy Strawn on the classic 1990s sitcom. His character was best-known for seemingly not having a job (although it should be noted that earlier this year Martin co-star Tisha Campbell-Martin revealed that Tommy was actually a counselor at the Boys & Girls Club). He was close friend to the title character, played by Martin Lawrence, and often the target of his jokes. Lawrence spoke exclusively with Complex about the death of his costar.
“We really lost a good one. He was a spiritual brother, loving father, just a loving person. He will be missed,” Lawrence told Complex.
Lawrence and Ford's relationship wasn't just an onscreen act, however—they were were close friends in real life too. “He was my friend way before [Martin], and we got to take our friendship and put it on-screen as well. That in itself was a blessing,” Lawrence said.
On the show, Ford typically played straight man during Lawrence's over-the-top antics—which wasn't always easy. “I always loved to have Tommy break character," Lawrence recalled. "One of my favorite things about him was the way he couldn’t control his laughter whenever [we] acted a fool on the show. That’s how we were off camera too. We would just laugh and joke—a lot of good times.”
One of those times included the episode when Martin’s CD player goes missing and he carries around a fake Rottweiler while pretending to be Nino Brown. Lawrence called the episode one of Ford’s "favorites."
Our condolences go out to Ford's family, friends, and fans.