Inside Gary Coleman's Tragic Life and Sudden Death
Adopted at just one day old and diagnosed with an atrophied kidney as a toddler, the 4'8" Diff'rent Strokes star – who died at age 42 on May 28 after suffering a brain hemorrhage – constantly struggled to make peace with his faded fame, his failing health and his family pain, friends tell PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.
"I'd been dreading [losing him] for years," says Shavar Ross, who played Coleman’s best friend Dudley on Diff'rent Strokes, one of many ex-costars whom Coleman cut off in the early '90s as he sought to distance himself from his child stardom.
"With some former child stars, there's a real psychological hurdle trying to stay relevant. And that happened to Gary," adds Ross. "And he had those other things to deal with: his height, his health, being adopted. It caused a lot of frustration for him."
The actor's 2007 marriage to Shannon Price, 24, brought its own problems.
"They both had pretty explosive personalities," says Randy Kester, Coleman’s Utah-based attorney. "There were incidences of domestic violence on both sides. They had plenty of verbal fights, which did escalate to physical confrontations."
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