Mario Lopez shares emotional tribute to Dustin Diamond: 'He was like a little brother to me'

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read

Mario Lopez remembered his friend and one-time Saved By the Bell co-star Dustin Diamond on Monday’s Access Hollywood.

Just hours after news broke that Diamond died from stage IV cancer, Lopez reported the news, then added an emotional tribute, saying, “He was like a little brother to me. We always remained in contact over the years, and I actually just spoke with him a couple of weeks ago after he got his diagnosis. Even then, he was full of energy, and he was optimistic.”

SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 1 -- Pictured: (top, l-r)  Eliszabeth Berkeley as Jessie Spano, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, (middle) Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, (bottom) Dustin DIamond as Screech Powers -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
Saved By the Bell, Season 1, featured Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris and Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers. (Photo: NBCU Photo Bank)

Lopez continued, “Life is just so fragile and not to be taken for granted. Our prayers are with Dustin’s family and his friends.”

He shared a similar sentiment on social media.

Diamond died on Monday, just over a week after completing his first round of chemotherapy following a stage IV lung diagnosis. He had first been hospitalized over the weekend of Jan. 9 with a large lump on his throat, he rep said. Tests showed he had lung cancer and that it had metastasized.

Diamond played Samuel "Screech" Powers, the nerdy pal of handsome Zack Morris, played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, in the original Saved by the Bell, which was must-see TV in the early ‘90s. He reprised the role in two spinoffs, Saved by the Bell: The College Years and Saved by the Bell: The New Class, as two TV movies. However, his personal struggles alienated him from the rest of the cast at times, and Diamond was not invited to join them on the Peacock streaming service reboot, which was recently picked up for a second season.

SAVED BY THE BELL: THE COLLEGE YEARS -- SEASON 1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris  (Photo by Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
Saved By the Bell: The College Years, with Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris. (Photo: Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

However, they are remembering the good times amid the loss. Gosselaar called Diamond “a true comedic genius” and said he’ll “miss those raw, brilliant sparks that only he was able to produce. A pie in your face, my comrade.”

Lark Voorhies, the show’s Lisa Turtle, who was Screech’s crush, wrote, “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.”

Tiffani Thiessen, the show’s Kelly, was “deeply saddened by the news,” adding, “life is extremely fragile…”

Elizabeth Berkley, who plays Jessie, wrote that she’s “grateful to have gotten to create with Dustin when we were at the beginning of our dreams coming true. I will hold onto those sweet memories and the laughs we shared. He was a truly gifted talent.”

Kiersten Warren, from SBTB: The College Years and SBTB: Wedding in Vegas, wrote, “Being unique is way better than being perfect. There will never be another Dustin Diamond.”

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