'He was surrounded by love': Harlem Nights and Roots star Ji-Tu Cumbuka dies at 77

Dead: Harlem Nights and Roots star Ji-Tu Cumbuka has passed away aged 77

Dead: Harlem Nights and Roots star Ji-Tu Cumbuka has passed away aged 77

Harlem Nights star Ji-Tu Cumbuka has died.

The 77-year-old Roots favorite passed away while surrounded by friends and family it was announced on Sunday.

His death, which happened on Tuesday, was revealed by his niece Amber Holifield in an emotional social media post.

The Atlanta, Georgia native wrote on Facebook: 'In my Uncle Ji-Tu's final days until his final moments he was surrounded with love and support!

'It's was a blessing for all of us to be together in his final hour, and not to mention we pretty much stayed at the hospital with him, and boy did he enjoy our company.

'He stayed strong and just as sweet as he wanted to be the entire time and that I will never forget that!

'I am so proud and blessed to be able to say that he is my uncle. Rest In Peace Uncle Ji-Tu you will always be loved and remembered!'

Tribute: His niece Amber Holifeld revealed he had died surrounded by family on Tuesday

Tribute: His niece Amber Holifeld revealed he had died surrounded by family on Tuesday

Star turn: He played the Toothless Gambler in 1989 Eddie Murphy movie Harlem Nights

Star turn: He played the Toothless Gambler in 1989 Eddie Murphy movie Harlem Nights

She also said the actor's sense of humor was strong up to his death.' 

She said: 'I ask him if he leaves then what do I do? He said (as he would) "Deal with it... I'm dealing with it" ... so l laugh and said you iiiss right!'

While he is best know for his turns in Eddie Murphy 1989 vehicle Harlem Nights and 1977 TV show Roots, he also appeared in Brewster's Millions and Bound For Glory,

Star Trek legend LeVar Burton, who played Geordi La Forge in The Next Generation, also paid tribute to his former co-star.

Make it so: Star Trek The Next Generation also paid tribute to his mentor

Make it so: Star Trek The Next Generation also paid tribute to his mentor

Grappling with stardom: He made a notable appearance as a wrestler in 1977's Roots

Grappling with stardom: He made a notable appearance as a wrestler in 1977's Roots

The 60-year-old tweeted: 'He played theWrestler in the original ROOTS, one of Kunta's primary mentors; as he was for me on my first gig!'

Ji-Tu hailed from Alabama and was given his unique name by his grandmother. 

It means 'giant' in Swahili, while his surname means 'to remember.'

He gave a nod to his moniker when he titled his 2011 autobiography A Giant to Remember: The Black Actor in Hollywood.

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