When we think of Sylvester Stallone, we automatically equate him with the Rocky franchise. But now in 2024, he’s known first and foremost as a family man thanks to his Paramount Plus reality series, The Family Stallone. The series is set to premiere its second season on Feb. 21, 2024, so we’ll catch up with Sylvester and his wife, Jennifer Flavin, as well as his four living kids. But one of his kids, Sage Stallone, is notably absent.
Sadly, Sage passed away in 2012, which is why he’s not part of The Family Stallone. But Sage’s relationship with his father made headlines back in 1990 when he starred as Rocky’s son in Rocky V. 22 years later, Sage died in his Studio City home as the media speculated about what happened. Now, we know the truth.
What happened to Sage Stallone? He died in 2012 of coronary artery disease.
On July 13, 2012, Sage was found dead in his Studio City, Los Angeles home by his housekeeper. His mother, Sasha Czack, asked the housekeeper to check on him when she hadn’t heard from him. At just 36 years old, Sage had passed away. Naturally, this led tabloids to speculate about how he died and assume it was some sort of drug overdose. TMZ, which first reported his death, even tapped sources to confirm that it was an overdose.
However, Sylvester made a plea to the tabloids not to speculate over his son’s death in a statement to CNN. “This is in reference to the speculation and questionable reporting surrounding the death of my son Sage,” he said. “Because when a parent loses a child, there is no greater pain.”
“Therefore I am imploring people to respect my wonderfully talented son’s memory and feel compassion for his loving mother Sasha, because this agonizing loss will be felt for the rest of our lives. Sage was our first child and the center of our universe and I am humbly begging for all to have my son’s memory and soul left in peace.”
By the time the coroner’s report came out, it was confirmed that Sage had not died of a drug overdose. CNN reported, “[Sage] died of atherosclerosis, which brought on a heart attack, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner said Thursday … No drugs were found in Stallone’s body other than an over-the-counter Tylenol-style pain medication, according to Lt. Fred Corral of the coroner’s office.”
This might be shocking, considering the fact that Sage was just 36 years old. But Sage’s friend and lawyer, George Braunstein, told PEOPLE that Sage’s vices were cigarettes, candy, and soda. “Sage didn’t even drink,” he said. “There was a report that his room was filled with liquor bottles. Actually, they were empty bottles of Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda.”
Sage looked up to his father even though they had different interests. “Sage has chosen an entirely different route,” Sylvester told PEOPLE in 1996. “He’s interested in a different type of filmmaking. And he avoids the gym like the plague.” Even still, Sage built up his own film career before he passed away.
After working on Rocky V opposite Sylvester, the two grew closer together as their on-screen relationship mirrored and worked out their off-screen conflicts. Sage went on to act in Daylight, Moscow Zero, and more, in addition to producing and writing several projects. While he may not be alive today, his legacy is remembered and honored through the Stallone family’s memories.