Ray Screenwriter James L. White Dies of Cancer at 67
07/23/2015 AT 07:00 PM EDT
White – who penned the original screenplay to the Jamie Foxx movie Ray – died Thursday morning following a battle with pancreatic and liver cancer Variety reports. He was 67.
White's attorney Matthew L. Saver confirmed the news, saying that he had died at his home in Santa Monica, California – and also revealed that Sidney Poitier had given White his first screenwriting job.
Taylor Hackford – who directed Ray – told PEOPLE: "Jimmy White was a lovely man and a terrific writer. His insights as a black man growing up in the south (Kentucky) were an invaluable asset in writing the script for Ray."
He had two projects in pre-production prior to his death, including a biopic of singer and pianist Dinah Washington.
He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, two daughters and a son.