Neil Hope, Degrassi
News broke Thursday that Degrassi star Neil Hope has been dead for five years, Canada's National Post reports.
Several sites reported that Hope's death was made official on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012. However, a public Facebook group dedicated to the actor , "Let's Bring The Real Neil Hope ("Wheels" from Degrassi) to Facebook" features a confirmation of Hope's death from his sister-in-law, Tracy Northup Hope, dated Jan. 12 of this year in which she writes that the actor died from natural causes on Nov. 25, 2007. He would have 35 at the time of his death.
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Hope's fiancée, Christina Boulard, also released the following statement: "The family regrets to announce that Neil passed away in Hamilton, Ontario on November 25, 2007 of natural causes. There was some confusion regarding his passing that they do not wish to go public with, which is why they are only announcing his death now to the public and the media." She also wrote on the Facebook page that a memorial was being planned for May.
Degrassi executive producer Stephen Stohn tweeted Thursday about Hope's passing."We have respected the privacy of the family by not saying anything until now, but our entire team is very emotional about his passing."
Born in Toronto in 1972, Hope rose to fame in the 1980s for his role as "Wheels" on Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High and Degrassi: The Next Generation. He also appeared in the 1992 series Degrassi Talks where he spoke about his struggle with his parents' alcohol addiction. Hope later struggled with alcohol addiction himself following the death of his father, according to the National Post. His final appearance on Degrassi: The Next Generation was in 2003.