On Tuesday, February 2, the Access Hollywood cohost, 47, revealed that he had always kept in touch with Diamond through the years. “I’m happy to say and I feel good about always having stayed in touch with Dustin. He had some struggles and a complicated life, but we all do,” Lopez explained. “I don’t abandon, like, my friends or never turn my back on people that are always there for me and I stood by him and was always a phone call away when he moved to Wisconsin and we stayed in touch and he met his girlfriend recently. We were actually discussing, when I talked to him recently, just two weeks prior to him passing, about the upcoming season and figuring out doing something cool. I was trying to convince him to do something in the reality space that I’d be producing for him. It was actually pretty funny.”
The Smurfs 2 star added: “Unfortunately that won’t come to fruition now, but he was in good spirits at least. He was pretty positive and optimistic last I spoke to him.”
Lopez shared on Access Hollywood that despite his personal and legal issues, Diamond “was a good guy.” He noted that he was hopeful others would see it that way too now that he’s gone.
“I hope Dustin is remembered as a nice guy, good person, always took time to speak with people that were fans and wanted to connect with him,” the California native said. “And as an iconic character that millions of people related to.”
Diamond’s other Saved by the Bell castmates also paid tribute to him on Monday. In a statement to Us Weekly, Mark-Paul Gosselaar stated, “I’m deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dustin Diamond, a true comedic genius. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
Tiffani Thiessen, for her part, wrote via Instagram: “I am deeply saddened by the news of my old co-star @realdustindiamond passing. Life is extremely fragile and it’s something we should never take for granted. God speed Dustin.”
Lark Voorhies, who played Screech’s crush Lisa Turtle, also paid tribute. “Words cannot express the grief that I am feeling right now. Dustin and I had a warm and special friendship, he was a caring gentleman, and my memories of him will always be cherished. I am so very sorry he is gone,” she said in a statement on Monday. “But it’s exceptionally sad for his close loved ones who have to deal with his tragic death and their own great loss. My heart goes out to them at this trying time.”
The Celebrity Big Brother alum first revealed his cancer diagnosis on January 14 via Facebook, shortly after he was hospitalized in Florida.
Diamond’s rep confirmed to Us that the former child star died at age 44 from stage IV small cell carcinoma on Monday.
“He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago,” his statement read. “In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful.”
His rep continued, “Dustin was a humorous and high-spirited individual whose great passion was to make others laugh. He was able to sense and feel other peoples’ emotions to such a length that he was able to feel them too — a strength and a flaw, all in one. Dustin Diamond was a character in and of himself: an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored. We are thankful he trusted us enough to share his genuine, authentic self with our team. We wish you knew him in the way that we did. We please ask that you give room for privacy to our team and Mr. Diamond’s family during this tragic time, as we grieve and remember the memories spent together. This loss is as much stinging as it is sudden.”