"From our conversations, I know how much he loves his beautiful family and how ready and deserving he is to venture beyond Alex Karev," Omar Leyva wrote

By Christina Dugan
January 14, 2020 02:57 PM

After starring in 16 seasons of Grey’s AnatomyJustin Chambers announced he has left the beloved ABC medical drama — and according to a costar, it was time.

On Friday, Omar Leyva, who played Luis Rivera (the father at the center of Meredith Grey’s insurance fraud scandal), posted a touching tribute to the 49-year-old actor, calling him a “honest and humble man.”

#JustinChambers is an honest & humble man who made me feel so appreciated from my first episode on #GreysAnatomy,” Leyva wrote in the caption. “To have shared in his last episode, #greys350, after his incredible run, is unbelievable. From our conversations, I know how much he loves his beautiful family and how ready and deserving he is to venture beyond #alexkarev. Buena Suerte! (I also need to console my niece now!).”

On Friday, ABC confirmed to PEOPLE that the original cast member had left Grey’s after starring as Dr. Alex Karev for 16 seasons. His final episode aired on Nov. 14, 2019.

“There’s no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that’s defined so much of my life for the past 15 years,” Chambers said in a statement to PEOPLE. “For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time.”

He added, “As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rimes, original cast members Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew, both past and present, and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride.”

RELATED: Jesse Williams Says Grey’s Anatomy & Station 19‘s 2-Hour Crossover Event Will Be ‘Scary As Hell’

Mitch Haaseth/ABC

In Chambers’ last episode, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) fought to have her medical license reinstated after she was caught committing insurance fraud in order to save a young patient. (Leyva played the young child’s father.)

In order to persuade the board in Meredith’s favor, Alex brought in a group of Meredith’s former patients. Alex also read letters from other doctors on Meredith’s behalf, including ones from Cristina Yang, Callie Torres, Addison Montgomery, April Kepner and Arizona Robbins.

In his final frames, Alex was among his friends and colleagues as Meredith’s lawyer revealed that his efforts worked — and Meredith’s license was reinstated.

Dr. Alex Karev
Richard Cartwright/Walt Disney Television via Getty

Chambers was noticeably absent from the midseason finale, and it was explained that his character was taking care of his ailing mother. So Chambers will not get a send-off episode.

One big question remains unanswered: What does this mean for Alex’s wife, Jo Wilson Karev (Camilla Luddington)?

Last season, the duo realized they never mailed in their signed marriage license (after their ferry boat wedding in season 14), and it had expired. Then going through a difficult time, Jo gave Alex “an out” as she signed herself into a psychiatric facility.

RELATED: A Possible Miscarriage and Adoption? Breaking Down Grey’s Anatomy‘s Explosive Mid-Season Finale

Dr. Alex Karev and Dr. Jo Wilson
Jennifer Clasen/ABC

But Alex wasn’t having it and proposed again after she finished her month-long stint at the facility.

“I don’t want an out, you hear me,” he told Jo after her 30 days in in-patient therapy were over. “You offered me an out. You were right. I was scared, so I thought about it and what I know for sure now is I’m a better man with you. I want to be your husband. I want you to be my wife.”

After receiving funding for his hospital Pac-North, Alex told Jo during the Halloween episode, “We should do something to celebrate. What time does the courthouse close? The two then stood in front of a judge in full costume.

Grey’s Anatomy‘s midseason premiere airs on Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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