Former Disney star Michael Galeota dies aged 31

Ainhoa Barcelona

Child star Michael Galeota has passed away at the age of 31, his family has confirmed. The former Disney star, who was best known for his role as Nick Lighter in The Jersey, "died peacefully" at home on Sunday 10 January.

The California resident is believed to have died of natural causes, although an autopsy is pending.

Michael had a history of hypertension and high cholesterol and was admitted to hospital with abdominal pains a few days before his death. He also battled diverticulitis – a condition that causes inflammation of the large intestine.

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Michael Galeota starred in Disney's The Jersey for five years

The New York-born star left hospital on Wednesday against doctors' advice, TMZ reports, and sadly died over the weekend.

A family member has set up a Go Fund Me page in honour of Michael, in a bid to raise money to cover funeral costs.

Announcing that the actor "died peacefully at home," loved one Jimmy wrote: "He was a precious gift – loving, giving, compassionate, joyful and intelligent. 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."

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A family member has set up a Go Fund Me page to help cover Michael's funeral costs

"He cared profoundly for his family and friends," added Jimmy. "Mike was a great giver, always ready and able to care for others. Although his life was short, we are grateful and appreciate the experience of having been loved, and loved him in return, and for being in our lives. In our hearts and souls, he will always be with us."

Michael starred in Disney's The Jersey for five years as a teenager until 2004. He was also cast in Secret Santa and Clubhouse Detectives; he also made guest appearances on Ally McBeal and ER.

Judging by photos on his Twitter account, Michael quit acting and joined the corporate world, working for Marshall & Swift, a company that provides real estate industries with building cost data.

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