LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Friends and family of Nevada State Assemblyman and Democrat Majority Whip Tyrone Thompson said he died early Saturday morning.
A family friend of Thompson said he died at around 1 a.m. in Carson City on May 4. He was 51 years old. The cause and manner of his death was not immediately released.
A statement from the Nevada Assembly of Democrats said Thompson was receiving emergency medical care at the Carson-Tahoe Regional Medical Center before he died.
Thompson, who represented District 17 in Clark County and was a native of North Las Vegas, served the Nevada Legislature for four sessions from 2013 to 2019, according to the legislature's website. He also served as Chief Deputy Majority Whip in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
“He never changed. He was the sweet person on TV, the sweet person everybody knew as a politician was the sweet person everybody knew as a friend or family guy,” close family friend Tish Black said. Black has known Thompson since she was a teenager.
“Our families grew up together,” she said.
A natural leader, Thompson graduated from Valley High School as the student body president. After college, he worked at the City of Las Vegas and Clark County. He spent his free time volunteering in the community. Among many, he received two awards named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama.
“Every time you turn around, he was a support system,” Black said. “And you don’t find that too often, where someone supports everyone.”
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak sent his condolences to Assemblyman Thompson's family and friends:
I am heartbroken by the unexpected passing of Assemblyman Thompson. He spent his career in service to others, and dedicated his life to lifting up and protecting the most vulnerable in our community. They say that no man stands so tall as when he stoops to help another, and Assemblyman Thompson stood larger-than-life because of his selfless service to his fellow Nevadans. Kathy, Ashley, Carley, and I will miss Tyrone greatly, and we offer our deepest sympathies to Tyrone’s family and loved ones during this extremely difficult time. I am also ordering the flags to be flown at half-staff across the state and invite Nevadans to join us in remembering Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson.
U.S. Senator Jackey Rosen (D-NV) also expressed her sadness at hearing of Thompson's death. She said, "Tyrone worked tirelessly to improve Nevada, and to help better the lives of those who live in our state. His presence in Nevada will truly be missed, but his legacy will always live on. My thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time."
Former Nevada Assemblyman John Moore posted about Thompson's death on Facebook.
"I served with Tyrone in the legislature and on a few committees, we sat next to each other on the Assembly floor," Moore wrote. "I would often ask Tyrone for advice on different issues, I could always count on getting an honest answer from him. Assemblyman Thompson was the type of person that always had a smile and a kind word no matter what the situation was."
"We are deeply saddened by Assemblyman Thompson’s sudden passing," Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (D) said. "He was well respected by his colleagues in the Legislature for his dedication and leadership. His warm smile and larger-than-life presence will truly be missed in our Assembly chamber. We ask that you respect the privacy of his family at this difficult time."
Nevada Legislature members from across the aisle also shared their regards in response to Assemblyman Thompson's passing.
"Nevada has lost a kind and passionate leader and the members of the Nevada Legislature have lost a tremendous colleague and friend," the Senate Republican Caucus said. "Assemblyman Thompson was a tireless advocate for education and the community at large. His efforts to provide mentors and role models to the community’s youth were unmatched – he was the best mentor among them."
So very sorry to hear the news about Tyrone Thompson’s passing. He was passionate about education and a great mentor to many youths in Nevada. My thoughts are with his family on this sad day. He will be missed. pic.twitter.com/bjIKLGiLuc— Keith Pickard (@Pickard4Nevada) May 4, 2019
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada released a statement on Assemblyman Thompson's death:
We’re deeply saddened by the loss of Tyrone Thompson, a true leader in the fight for liberty. Chairman Thompson was an advocate for children and marginalized communities. The ACLU of Nevada proudly supported his resolution urging Congress to prevent the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 census. His dedication to homeless youth, preventing employment discrimination against those with criminal convictions, and ending the school to prison pipeline is unmatched. He was an outstanding leader and will be sorely missed.
“It’s just hard. It’s really, really hard to accept that,” Black said. “He’s done so much in the community for so many people. He’s not just this politician. He’s an uncle, he’s a godfather, he’s a brother, he’s a son, he’s a friend.”
As a State Assemblyman, Thompson was a part of several committees. During the 2017 legislative session, Thompson was the chair of Corrections, Parole, and Probation, Health and Human Services and Judiciary committees. He also served on the Legislative Operations and Elections and Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining committees.
Assemblyman Thompson was also decorated with many awards during his tenure in the legislature, including the President Obama Volunteer Service Award, the NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet Award, the Outstanding Court Appointed Special Advocate Award and the Distinguished Gentleman in Southern Nevada award.
“He helped voices be heard,” Black said.
Over the years, Thompson worked in the community on two of his top priorities: homelessness and education. Black said she just texted her friend the other day.
“Every once in a while, I’ll send him a text, ‘I really love what you’re doing in the community. I love you,’” she said. “And he’ll send me a text back, ‘love you back.’”
Then early Saturday morning, she got a text she didn’t want to see.
“I’m still in shock,” she said. “I don’t get emotional but Tyrone meant something to me. He’s family. He’s a really good friend.”
While Clark County will need to appoint someone to fill his seat this session, Black said Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson is irreplaceable.
“I’m worried that he did so much in the community. It’s going to be hard for someone to fill his shoes,” Black said. “We don’t have too many superheroes, and I will continue to call him Las Vegas’s own superhero.”
Assemblyman Thompson was the primary sponsor of many bills during the 2019 Nevada Legislative Session.
With less than a month left in this legislative session, all of Thompson’s bills are expected to continue moving through.
"Assemblyman Thompson brought his remarkable knowledge, kindness and love to everything he was involved with," Moore continued on Facebook. "Those that were fortunate enough to know him and the few of us that had the privilege to serve with him know what a giant of a human he truly was. This is a great loss for Nevada, my deepest condolences go out to his family and all those that he touched on his life's journey."
One commentor on Thompson's Facebook page also expressed her condolences.
"Rest In Peace Assemblyman, your hard work for Nevada education and students of color is a legacy and testament to your spirit and purpose," the woman wrote. "So saddened by this news. Rest In Peace! God Bless your family!"
Family members said a viewing would be held at the Victory Missionary Baptist Church at 500 W. Monroe Ave. in Las Vegas on Friday, May 17 from 2:30 - 6 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, family members asked guests to make a donation to the Shannon West Homeless Youth Center or HELP of Southern Nevada.