Dustin Diamond, who played Samuel "Screech" Powers on Saved by the Bell, died Monday morning

By Jen Juneau and Aili Nahas
February 01, 2021 02:10 PM
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Dustin Diamond, best known for playing Samuel "Screech" Powers on Saved by the Bell, died Monday morning after a battle with cancer. He was 44 years old.

Diamond's rep confirmed the news to PEOPLE in a statement: "We are saddened to confirm of Dustin Diamond's passing on Monday, February 1st, 2021 due to carcinoma. He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago. In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful."

Dustin Diamond
| Credit: Noel Vasquez/Getty

The statement continued:

"Dustin Diamond's name was synonymous with Screech, his character on the hit show Saved by the Bell. He portrayed Samuel "Screech" Powers for thirteen years as the cast of the show grew up together in all its series: Good Morning, Miss [Bliss], Saved by the Bell: The New Class, and Saved By the Bell: The College Years. He starred in a handful of reality television series including the 5th season of Celebrity Fit Club, The Weakest Link and Celebrity Boxing 2. He made cameo appearances in films such as Made (2001), Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003) and American Pie Presents: The Book of Love.(2009). In December 2013, Dustin appeared on an episode of OWN's Where Are They Now?and became a house member in the twelfth season of Celebrity Big Brother."

"We've been working alongside Dustin over the last twenty-one years. It goes without saying that our relationship cannot be categorized exclusively as business. He has become a larger part of our everyday life: A part of our family and friend circle. We are aware that Dustin is not considered reputable by most," the rep continued. "He's had a history of mishaps, of unfortunate events. We want the public to understand that he was not intentionally malevolent. He--much like the rest of those who act out and behave poorly—had undergone a great deal of turmoil and heartache. His actions, though rebukeable, stemmed from loss and the lack of knowledge on how to process that pain properly. In actuality, Dustin was a humorous and high-spirited individual whose greatest passion was to make others laugh. He was able to sense and feel other peoples' emotions to such a length that he was able to feel them too—a strength and a flaw, all in one."

RELATED: PEOPLE Every Day Discusses Dustin Diamond's Death

"Dustin Diamond was a character in and of himself: an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored," the rep said, adding in conclusion, "We are thankful he trusted us enough to share his genuine, authentic self with our team. We wish you knew him in the way that we did. We please ask that you give room for privacy to our team and Mr. Diamond's family during this tragic time, as we grieve and remember the memories spent together. This loss is as much stinging as it is sudden."

Dustin Diamond on Saved by the Bell
| Credit: NBC

Diamond's rep confirmed the actor's cancer diagnosis to PEOPLE last month. A week later, on Jan. 21, the rep said Diamond had started chemotherapy for stage 4 small cell carcinoma, a cancer that commonly occurs in lungs, but can also manifest in the prostate or gastrointestinal tract.

A second round of chemotherapy was being scheduled and Diamond was also set to begin physical therapy in the near future, according to NBC News.

Diamond played Screech on the original Saved by the Bell, which ran for four seasons from 1989 to 1993 on NBC. He was the only main cast member who did not reprise his role for the Peacock reboot of the series, which debuted its first season last November.