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Sawyer Sweeten Took His Life at 19 — Mom Said There Was Not a Day 'Without a Hug' or an 'I Love You'

Olawale Ogunjimi
May 28, 2022
04:20 P.M.
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Sawyer Sweeten, from "Everybody Loves Raymond," was the youngest cast member alongside his twin, Sullivan. As a child, he was an impressive actor. Still, he did not have time to establish an iconic career because of his untimely death at 19, leaving his family devastated yet with pleasant memories.

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Sawyer Sweeten, born in Brownwood, Texas, became a TV sensation before learning to talk correctly. The Texas native started appearing on "Everybody Loves Raymond" at only sixteen months old.

What made the series exceptional was how Sawyer, alongside his twin, Sullivan, brought life to their characters. They were also joined by their actress sister, Madylin, who was about four years older than the boys.

"Everybody Loves Raymond" cast members Madylin, Sawyer, and Sullivan Sweeten arrive at the Hollywood Christmas Parade, November 26, 2000 in Hollywood, CA. | Source: Getty Images

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Sawyer grew up to be a respectful lad who also bagged about two other features in one series and a movie. But unfortunately, he did not live long enough, as he died by his own hands, leaving his family and close friends, including former co-stars, heartbroken.

While describing the young man, Elizabeth Gini, his mother, and her husband, Jerry had nothing but lovely comments about the deceased. They revealed that he was a perfect and responsible son.

The family was not the only ones who grieved. After the shocking blow of Sawyer's departure, his former cast members expressed their surprise while singing many praises about the deceased.

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Peter Boyle, Monica Horan, Brad Garrett, Patricia Heaton, Phil Rosenthal, creator, Doris Roberts, Ray Romano, Madylin Sweeten, Sawyer Sweeten and Sullivan Sweeten and - the cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond." | Source: Getty Images

Roy Romano, who played his on-screen dad, was honest about feeling sad. He described his former co-star as someone who lit up the room with a burst of great energy.

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In the series, Patricia Heaton, his mother, did not mince her words when sharing her experience with the actor. She called him "exceptionally bright," adding that his death came too soon.

Another cast member, Doris Roberts, also maintained that Sawyer was a "sweet young man" who would be greatly missed.

Actors Sullivan Sweeten and Sawyer Sweeten at the Everybody Loves Raymond Series Wrap Party at Hanger 8 on April 28, 2005 in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images

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The CBS show's creator, Phil Rosenthal, could not deny the impact of the Sweeten siblings on the production.

In his words about the deceased, he reminded fans how their unique acting was not different from the reality most parents faced. Rosenthal admitted that Sawyer has always been loved from his days as a child star.

Fortunately, the deceased established a legacy loved by many, despite his short life. As a child star, Sawyer was confident and never shied away from sharing his feelings on the red carpet, which made him loveable.

Madylin Sweeten with brothers Sawyer and Sullivan arrive to the 'Everybody Loves Raymond' 200th Episode Celebration at Spago. | Source: Getty Images

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However, he was not the only noticeable talent from the Sweeten household. His twin brother, Sullivan, equally shared the spotlight, and their older sister, Madylin, mostly acted as an authority during their interviews.

The eldest Sweeten was first a beauty queen, racking up numerous trophies in competitions before venturing into acting. Life as a child star was also as delightful as the pageantry, as Madylin was skilled at memorizing her lines.

Madylin Sweeten arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of Fox's "Welcome to Mooseport" | Source: Getty Images

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It did not end there; the young actress sometimes annoyed her colleagues by showing off her memorizing talent. This was because she often mastered their lines and would correct them whenever they slipped up.

However, her incredible talent did not stop her from having a directionless life after the show ended. After she met another actor, Sean Durrie, whom she married, everything seemed to make sense again.

Madylin continues to act like Sawyer's surviving twin. Sullivan starred in 2002's "Frank McKlusky C.I" and the most recent "Casting" in 2017.

THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF SAWYER SWEETEN'S DEATH

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Actors Sawyer, Madeline and Sullivan Sweeten attend the premiere of the the film "Garfield. | Source: Getty Images

April 2015 was the darkest month for the Sweetens, who unexpectedly witnessed the death of their son, brother, cousin, and nephew.

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19-year-old Sawyer had visited his aunt, Chele Knapp Robinette, with his twin in her Austin, Texas, luxury home. The $800,000 property was home to Robinette, her husband, and their three kids.

Shockingly, during his stay, Sawyer found a way to elude his relatives as he made his way upstairs on one occasion, leaving the family downstairs.

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What followed was an unpredictable experience that left the family wondering what went wrong. Sawyer took his own life.

Amid the grieving, many wondered what went wrong. Dino May, Sawyer's manager, echoed the astonishment, explaining that his mental health seemed fine and that there was no visible evidence that he ever struggled with depression.

May also talked about the deceased not succumbing to the child star myth like his sister. Instead, he was described as a "good kid, no drugs, no nothing, no drama, good parents. Everybody got along."

The cast of 'Everybody Loves Raymond', (L-R) Peter Boyle, Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Monica Horan, Sawyer Sweeten, Sullivan Sweeten and Madylin Sweeten pose with the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in the press room at the 57th Annual Emmy Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on September 18, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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Sawyer's cousin, Jacklyn Stines, who was 64 at the time of the death, made similar comments to May, but she maintained that the family had a history of depression and worked to curb it by taking medications.

According to Stines, the deceased had struggled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and learning disorders.

Despite the theory, Elizabeth believed that her son did not suffer from a "textbook depression" because he was happy and full of life until the last week of his life. However, she admitted that the change was swift and that they were caught off-guard.

Actors Sawyer and Sullivan Sweeten arrive at the party celebrating the 200th Episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" on October 14, 2004 at Spago in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images

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Still, it did not make her remember her son as a monster. Instead, Elizabeth's memories of the deceased remain untainted, and she still saw him as the sweet, charming boy he was. In their words:

"We spoke to or saw Sawyer daily. There was not one time that he did not greet us, or really anyone, without a hug. He never said goodbye without an 'I love you.'"

SAWYER SWEETEN'S FAMILY AFTER HIS DEATH

Sawyer and Sullivan Sweeten arrive at the 'Everybody Loves Raymond' 200th Episode Celebration at Spago. | Source: Getty Images

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It was not easy coping without her son, but Elizabeth needed to play her role as the matriarch. While doing so, she also granted interviews.

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During her appearance on "Larry King Now," Sawyer's mom shared an honest story about how she always felt that she was living on borrowed time with the twins, and the thoughts of losing either of them made her live in fear.

Madylin Sweeten, Sawyer Sweeten and Sullivan Sweeten. | Source: Getty Images

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Somehow, Sawyer's passing impacted Madylin positively. In 2019, she confessed that her brother was once a funny person, but he soon reclined in his shell, and everyone was blindsided.

Actors Sawyer Sweeten, Madylin Sweeten and Sullivan Sweeten attend the 8th Annual TV Land Awards held at Sony Studios on April 17, 2010 in Culver City, California. | Source: Getty Images

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After he died, she reassessed her lifestyle, which was plunging into darkness following her addictions, and began to make drastic changes. In her words:

"Eventually, I realized that my brother would never get to marry his soulmate, have a career, or live up to his full potential. That was my job now, and I was going to do my best to do everything I could to live up to the man I know he would have been."

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That same year, the entire family, including his half-siblings, Madylin's acting company, convened at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, California, to restore two old theaters in the building in his name.

Sawyer's family nailed a plaque bearing the name "Sawyer's Playhouse" in one of the theaters. The plaque was donated by the "Sawyer Sweeten Foundation," "Rosenthal Family Foundation," and Ray and Anna Romano.

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Although Elizabeth stated that the grief had consumed her, and she may never experience pure joy, she has been a stronghold for her younger kids, who were deeply traumatized by the incident.

Thankfully, she has hearty memories to share with her six surviving kids, making it easier to cope with the heartache.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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