Comedian Ralphie May died Friday at age 45, TMZ was first to report. HuffPost confirmed the death with May’s publicist.
Best known for finishing second on “Last Comic Standing” in 2003, the comedian had a successful stand-up career that included several specials on Comedy Central and Netflix.
His publicist, Stacey Pokluda, told HuffPost that May had been battling pneumonia and cancelled a handful of performance dates over the last month in an effort to recover. He died after a cardiac arrest.
“Earlier this morning at a private residence in Las Vegas, his body was discovered,” Pokluda said in a statement. “Two days ago he won the Casino Comedian of the Year at the Global Gaming Expo and had performances throughout the remainder of 2017 as part of his residency at Harrah’s Las Vegas.”
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee ― but raised in Arkansas ― May’s first break came at age 17, when he won a contest to open for comedian Sam Kinison, his idol. Kinison encouraged May to move to Houston and work on his comedy there. May took the suggestion, eventually graduating from a performing arts high school in the area.
He then moved to Los Angeles, honing his craft until his big break, on the first season of the NBC comedy reality show.
In 2005, May married fellow comedian Lahna Turner, but the couple divorced in 2015. They share two children.
Many of May’s comic contemporaries have expressed their grief on Twitter:
Damn. RIP Ralphie May. Comic warrior.
— marc maron (@marcmaron) October 6, 2017
— Ken Jeong (@kenjeong) October 6, 2017
Ralphie May RIP funny man. We shared good talks & good laughs . See you on the other side kid
— Jim Breuer (@JimBreuer) October 6, 2017
Oh man fellow comedian and friend Ralphie May just died. So crazy. RIP Ralphie. You my friend were one of the nicest and kindest out there.
— Larry The Cable Guy (@GitRDoneLarry) October 6, 2017
Whoa… man.. this sucks. Ralphie was a good guy & a very funny person. Condolences to his family & fans. https://t.co/M9s6bneAeA
— Dane Cook (@DaneCook) October 6, 2017
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) October 6, 2017
Ralphie May. Dammit. You were a funny and sweet mofo man. Rest In Peace.
— bob saget (@bobsaget) October 6, 2017
— Colin Quinn (@iamcolinquinn) October 6, 2017
So sad to hear about Ralphie. Sweet guy. He loved doing stand up and loved comedians. #RIPRalphieMay
— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) October 6, 2017
Damnit @Ralphie_May ! I’m so sad right now. Such a great guy. Rest well, friend. 😢😢😢
— Damon Wayans Yunior? (@wayansjr) October 6, 2017
Wow….I was just told that Ralphie May passed. I’m truly saddened by this. He was a good dude. Heaven just got another funny angel RIP man
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) October 6, 2017