Diamond, who played the iconic teen TV character Samuel "Screech" Powers on Saved by the Bell and a number of related shows, died this morning, three weeks after he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer at a Florida hospital. He had just turned 44 on Jan. 7. Diamond's rep tells TMZ his condition had greatly declined since last week, and he was taken off of breathing machines in an attempt to get him to hospice care. His girlfriend was with him when he died. Entertainment Tonight reports: "Back in October, Diamond notified a member of his team about a lump on his throat, assuming it could be thyroid cancer, but he was hesitant to visit the hospital due to COVID." As an 11-year-old 5th grader, Diamond beat out 5,000 other hopefuls to land the screech role on the Disney Channel comedy Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which premiered in 1988. After one season, the show was retooled as the NBC Saturday morning sitcom Saved by the Bell in 1989. Diamond went on to star in spinoff series Saved by the Bell: The College Years and Saved by the Bell: The New Class. He also guest-starred as Screech on the NBC teen sitcom Hang Time. "The hardest thing about being a child star is giving up your childhood. You don't get a childhood, really," Diamond said in a Where Are They Now? interview for OWN in 2013. "You're a performer, you have to know your lines and rehearse and practice, making sure you are the funniest and the best you can be. Because if you weren't funny, you could be replaced." Over the past two decades, Diamond tried his hand at standup comedy and in 2006 he released a sex tape called Screeched — Saved by the Smell. He later said he had a "stunt person" stand in for him. Also in 2006, he visited The Howard Stern Show to plead for money to save his house from foreclosure. In 2009, he released a salacious behind-the-scenes book on Saved by the Bell titled Behind the Bell, which was the inspiration for the 2014 Lifetime movie The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story. Diamond spent three months in jail in 2016 after he was convicted of disorderly conduct after he stabbed another bar patron in the armpit with a switchblade on Christmas Day 2014. Diamond reunited with his Saved co-star Mario Lopez on Extra in 2016. "I'm proud of the work that I've done when I've done it. It's just, how to you come off such a phenom role of this Screech character and break out of that mold and do something different?" he asked Lopez. "I'd audition, and every single time they'd say, 'Hey, we loved it, but we saw too much Screech in it.' Well, I can't change my bone structure, what do you want me to do?" Lopez tweeted in response to Diamond's death: "Dustin, you will be missed my man. The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted. Prayers for your family will continue on..." Tiffani Thiessen wrote on Instagram: "I am deeply saddened by I the news of my old co-star @realdustindiamond passing. Life is extremely fragile and it’s something we should never take for granted. God speed Dustin." In a statement, Mark-Paul Gosselaar said: "I’m deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dustin Diamond, a true comedic genius. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. Looking back at our time working together, I will miss those raw, brilliant sparks that only he was able to produce. A pie in your face, my comrade."