Michael Galeota, who starred in Disney Channel’s “The Jersey” in the late ’90s and early ’00s, died Sunday. He was 31.
“It is with tremendous heartfelt sadness to announce the passing of Michael James Galeota on January 10th,” reads a statement on a Go Fund Me page to raise money for his burial, created by Galeota’s family.
“He was a precious gift – loving, giving, compassionate, joyful and intelligent,” the post continues. “A great inspiration for anyone that heard his genuine, humble, witty and joyful voice, or experienced his smile, laughter and love for just a moment. To know him was to love him.”
The Go Fund Me page for Galeota has currently raised nearly $9,000 of its $25,000 goal. Interestingly, the biggest donation of $5,000 comes from a donor calling his or herself “Shia L.” While there’s no confirmation of the identity of that donor, actor Shia Labeouf starred on the Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens” at the same time Galeota was on “The Jersey.”
The actor went to the hospital last week after complaining of abdominal pains and left Wednesday, according to TMZ, which first reported the news. After not hearing from him later in the week, one of his friends apparently went to check on him Sunday at his Glendale home and climbed through the window when Galeota didn’t answer the door. He was found lying on the living room floor.
His death is currently said to be due to “natural causes,” and Galeota has battled hypertension, high cholesterol and diverticulitis. An autopsy is pending.
“The Jersey” premiered on the Disney Channel in 1999, based on the “Monday Night Football Club” books by Gordon Korman. Galeota starred as Nick Lighter, one of the four teens with access to “the jersey,” a magical garment that transports the wearer into the body of a professional athlete. The series finale aired in 2004.
Before “The Jersey,” Galeota had other roles in his youth, including in 1996 film “Clubhouse Detectives” and 1995’s “Bushwacked.” He also appeared in episodes of “E.R.” and “Ally McBeal” in 1995 and 1997, respectively. “The Jersey,” however, marked his last acting role.