Michael Galeota, Disney Child Star, Found Dead At 31

Michael Galeota was a Disney child actor who was most well-known for his work on Disney Channel’s The Jersey, in which he starred as Nick Lighter from 1999-2004.

Prior to his role in The Jersey, Galeota had several minor roles in a number of television series including ER, The Babysitters Club, Bailey Kipper’s P.O.V., and Profiler and movies which included Rattled, Women & Men 2: In Love There Are No Rules, and Magic Jersey.

USA Today reports that Galeota went to the hospital last Wednesday with abdominal pain and went back home the same day. He then passed away on Sunday. Michael Galeota’s brother, Jimmy, wrote about Galeota’s death on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe, through which the family is attempting to raise $25,000 to cover funeral and burial costs.

“It is with tremendous heartfelt sadness to announce the passing of Michael James Galeota on January 10th. He died peacefully at home. 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. His humble nature hid a great compassionate and loving human being, with a huge heart. He cared profoundly for his family and friends. 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.”

Through GoFundMe, Jimmy also told USA Today that details of the cause of death are forthcoming.

“At this time we are not certain as to the cause of death… and more details will be released later once my family is ready.”

Hollywood Life reports that after his time in acting, Michael Galeota pursued a career in real estate. Galeota’s body was found by a friend in his home in Glendale, California, who went to check on him after no one heard from him over the weekend.

Galeota suffered from high cholesterol, hypertension, and diverticulitis, which is inflammation of the digestive tract. It has been reported that Michael Galeota had not been following the medical advice he had received for these conditions. Thus far, the death is being attributed to natural causes, but an autopsy is being performed.

Aside from his short acting career and his work as a real estate agent, Michael Galeota was a sports fan. He particularly loved boxing, and the NHL, NFL, and NBA and he tweeted about these regularly. His last tweet was made on January 5 and referred to a photo of him and former offensive lineman Tony Siragusa that he posted on his private Instagram page.

There are reports that Michael Galeota had issues with alcohol and had three DUIs within the last 10 years. TMZ reports that the latest of these DUI charges was last September. In addition, he had served some jail time for violating probation related to incidents with alcohol. There is no word yet whether alcohol played a part in his death.

Regardless of the cause of his death, Michael Galeota was much loved by friends, family, and fans. Even though he moved on from acting, Galeota left a mark with so many people who watched him grow up over the five years he acted in The Jersey. To know that he is gone at such a young age is heartbreaking. RIP, Michael Galeota.

[Photo: Wikipedia/Non-free television screenshot]