Austin Majors, a former child star, passed away at the age of 27. The exact cause of his death is currently unknown, and the case has been deferred pending further investigation, as per the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s website.
TMZ first reported the news, stating that he died while staying at a homeless housing facility in Los Angeles, and although no foul play is suspected, it’s believed that he may have overdosed on fentanyl.
Majors’ family released a statement describing him as a talented and compassionate person who took great pride in his acting career and was also an Eagle Scout and a high school Salutatorian.
He later graduated from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts with a focus on music production and directing.
“Austin’s younger sister, Kali, says her fondest memories with Austin were growing up on set with him, volunteering at events with ‘Kids With a Cause’, and backpacking together,” the statement continues. “Austin was the kind of son, brother, grandson, and nephew that made us proud and we will miss him deeply forever.”
Clear Talent Group, who represented Majors, also issued a statement to PEOPLE on his sudden death.
“It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the passing of our talented client, Austin Majors. Most people will remember him as young Theo Sipowicz on ABC’s NYPD Blue and the voice of Young Jim in Disney’s Treasure Planet, but we will remember him as the caring, generous, and kindhearted individual that he was,” they wrote. “A graduate from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with a passion for directing and music producing, Austin’s talents were boundless. Our hearts, prayers, and condolences go out to his family.”
Born in California, Majors was best known for his role as Theo Sipowicz on NYPD Blue. He appeared in 48 episodes airing between 1999 to 2004.
Per his official website, Majors received the 2002 Young Artists Award for best performance in a television series for his work on NYPD Blue.
Majors’s final acting appearance was in a 2009 episode of How I Met Your Mother, where he played a 12-year-old version of Barney Stinson’s (Neil Patrick Harris) former grade school nemesis, Matthew Panning (Steven Montfort). He later worked as an editor and cinematographer on the 2015 short film Hero.
The former actor’s website also states that Majors would help “numerous charitable organizations” when not in front of the camera.
Majors was relatively active on Instagram ahead of 2023. However, his final post was shared on Dec. 28, featuring a photo of Joe Pesci to promote the new “seasonal jam” he made under his musical name, Pope!
Previously describing the work he created under his musical alias, Majors explained that it was “a non-denominational rebellion against exclusivity, ‘genre’ & cult-like thinking; a celebration of life, in all of its intrinsic, very necessary polarities (many traditional faiths & tethers to the divine are power centrically antiquated).”
“We’re all looking to, wanting & saying the same thing at the day’s end & the quicker we ‘become one’ (not as cliche’ to say as I wish), while still maintaining our individuality, the better chance our future spirit has of having a planet to inhabit at all,” he shared on Instagram in September, promoting his single, titled ‘It’s Just a Ride,’ featuring Bill Hicks. “Like any religion, love & acceptance must be practiced, continually challenged & improved upon with new expressions of ourselves & our connection to the Source.”
Majors also had a YouTube channel called “AwesomePerfected,” in which he shared funny videos. In the wake of his death, his family has been watching the clips, telling PEOPLE that they have “been bringing a smile to our faces.”