Michael Galeota's Brother Speaks Out as Late Disney Star's Cause of Death Confirmed to Be Heart Disease
“It’s been a long nine months waiting for the toxicology report to be finalized,” Michael’s brother Jimmy tells PEOPLE of the late actor, whose death earlier this year was shrouded in mystery.
“One of our friends recently asked me if it was going to matter when the results came in,” says Jimmy. “He asked me if it would change anything for me, from an emotional standpoint. And the truth is, it makes no difference.”
“My brother is gone and he’s not coming back,” he says. “No toxicology report is going to change anything – to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over this.”
Jimmy confirms his brother’s cause of death was atherosclerosis heart disease, which is listed on the death certificate obtained by TMZ. Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside the arteries, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the organs and other parts of the body. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is also listed as a factor.
Michael, who was best known for his 1999–2004 role as Nick Lighter in Disney’s The Jersey, died unexpectedly in his Glendale, California, home on Jan. 10 at the age of 31.
At the time, Jimmy told PEOPLE the family didn’t know exactly what happened and that it was “a lot of confusion” – though he maintained Michael had not committed suicide.
“I am happy the toxicology report is finalized and shows the truth about my brother’s death,” Jimmy says.
“There were a lot of people out there questioning what happened because of some [unflattering reports], so this autopsy kind of puts all that negativity to rest,” he continues. “That gives me relief to know that. At this point, all that’s left of my brother is his name and my only hope is that it stays untarnished.”
Jimmy tells PEOPLE that last month, Michael’s family and friends gathered to celebrate what would have been the late actor’s 32nd birthday on Aug. 28.
“We had a photo booth with cut-outs that we made of my brother so it was like you could take photo booth pictures with him,” says Jimmy.
“We had fireworks, we had floating lanterns that we lit and sent off into air at the end of the night,” he says. “We had a live band. It was a lot of fun.”
“It was a day for us to remember my brother and really celebrate the joy that he brought to everyone’s lives,” he adds.
“You know,” adds Jimmy, “There were close to 400 people that attended his funeral in Burbank, and to be honest, all of the people there in some way or another knew each other and were friends. The reason they all knew each other was because of my brother. He was that kind of guy.”