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Tragic news emerged this week when it was revealed that Jason Davis, voice of the beloved Mikey on the Disney cartoon Recess, had passed away.
“I am so heartbroken to share the saddest news of my life that my son Jason Davis passed away this morning in Los Angeles,” Davis’ mother Nancy told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.
Born in 1984, Davis was the son of renowned wine grower Nebil Zarif, and was the grandson of oil tycoon billionaires (and later philanthropists) Marvin and Barbara Davis. Davis’ mother Nancy is also involved in philanthropy, having founded the Race to Erase MS event after her own battle with multiple sclerosis began.
Davis started his acting career with small roles on TV shows like Roseanne and 7th Heaven. His big break came in 1997 with the debut of Recess, where he played the affable fourth grader Mikey Blumberg. Davis gave Mikey his winning personality and kind heart over the course of six seasons on television and four feature films.
After Recess ended, Davis was largely absent from film and TV, starring in bit parts from 2003 onward. As time passed, he became well-known for being a socialite in Hollywood, earning the nickname “Gummy Bear,” and often making headlines with his brother Brandon for run-ins with the law.
In 2008, Davis was arrested for possession of heroin and a DUI. According to the Daily Mail, fellow actor Tom Arnold staged an intervention for Davis in 2009.
Davis’ struggles continued, though he appeared on the dating show Millionaire Matchmaker in 2010.
On Matchmaker, Davis appeared disheveled and demonstrated poor manners on his dates. In the episode, he reveals to show host Patti Stanger that he experienced trauma and infidelity in past relationships.
To the shock of many fans who recognized him from childhood, Davis appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Pinsky.
Throughout season four of the VH1 show, Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addictions professional, worked with a group of celebrities as they went through the process of detox and treatment. In his initial consult with Davis, Pinsky asked Davis about his weight loss. Davis responded that he had lost about 150 pounds—due to heroin use.
Davis then went on to explain that he became addicted to oxycodone and heroin after suffering from a staph infection in his back. He stated that his friend introduced him to heroin.
On the show, Davis detoxes from opioids, and met in regular sessions with Pinsky. Davis’ condition is further complicated by his diagnosis of Type II diabetes, which is a focal point during his consults with Pinsky. Davis also admitted to a Xanax addiction while being treated on Celebrity Rehab.
After the show completed its run, Davis attended the cast reunion, where he elaborated on his struggles to stay sober. At that time, he was doing well after some setbacks, though in 2011 he was again arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
Davis experienced difficult periods over the next several years, with most recent reports of his drug use in 2016. Paparazzi spotted him staying at an LA motel, sporting obvious signs of heroin abuse.
In recent times, the outlook was more hopeful. Davis had founded an organization called Cure Addiction Now, which the Hollywood Reporter described would be, “funding groundbreaking research to find therapies to help stop the cycle of substance use disorder and help people not only detox but stay in permanent recovery.”
Multiple sources stated that Davis’ death came after a month-long period where his friends had not heard from him.
Davis was just 35 years old.
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