Tommy, Martin Lawrence's Sidekick on 'Martin,' Died at Just 52 Years Old


Jan. 16 2024, Published 1:39 p.m. ET

Tommy Ford speaking in Miami in 2016.
Source: Getty Images

The 2024 Emmy Awards featured plenty of actual awards and speeches, as well as a handful of reunions from beloved TV shows that may or may not have been Emmy darlings when they first aired. Among the shows that got a reunion during the awards show was Martin, a beloved '90s sitcom that never took home a single Emmy.

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While most of the cast returned for the reunion, there was one notable absence from the original cast. Tommy, who was played by actor Tommy Ford, was not among the cast, and a framed picture of him sat on the set. Now, many are wondering what happened to Tommy.

Tommy Ford at a special Where's the Love? screening.
Source: Getty Images
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What happened to Tommy from 'Martin?'

Tommy Ford unfortunately died in 2016 at just 52 years old. He died as the result of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which usually effects men over sixty and typically is associated with other symptoms like high cholesterol or blood pressure. Tommy was in the midst of recovering from a knee replacement when he died, and posted an update just a few weeks before his death in which he discussed his recovery.

"Working really hard in physical therapy! My progress is amazing! Thank you for all of your prayers and words of encouragement! I’m excited about getting back to work," he wrote at the time.

Tommy's death was treated as tragic at the time, and given the way he was honored during the reunion, it's clear that he is still an important part of the Martin family both for his castmates and for fans of the show.

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Tommy had a solid career after 'Martin.'

Even after the remarkable success of Martin, Tommy continued to work on TV and in film, and had prominent roles on New York Undercover and in Who's Got Jokes? Even today, though, Tommy is likely best recognized for his work on Martin, where he played Martin's best friend. Given that both characters used their real names, it's clear that the show was trying to reflect an actual dynamic that existed between them.

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Tommy was also very forthcoming about his faith in the years after Martin, and said that he started every taping for the show with a prayer.

“We did 153 episodes of Martin and there was not one episode that I didn’t open with prayer. I got my first acting job in church. God is in the building,” he explained. Martin was a remarkable success story at the time, and proved that there remained an audience on TV for black-led comedies.

The show lasted for six seasons, and was eventually canceled in 1997. Although it's been off the air for more than 25 years, the show still has a loyal fanbase and plenty of people were excited to see it be honored at last night's Emmys. The show may have deserved much more love from that awards body than it got while it was actually airing, but thankfully, they at least got to make amends decades later.

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