Andy Whitfield Was an 'Inspiration to All of Us,' Says Network Exec
09/12/2011 AT 09:55 AM EDT
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield," Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht says in a statement about the Welsh-born actor, who was 39. "We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in Spartacus and came to know that the man who played a champion on-screen was also a champion in his own life."
"Andy was an inspiration to all of us as he faced this very personal battle with courage, strength and grace," the statement continues.
Albrecht adds: "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. He will live on in the hearts of his family, friends and fans."
Whitfield, who lived in Australia, played the lead role during the first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. He withdrew from the second season when he had a recurrence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the blood cancer that would eventually take his life.
Whitfield's wife Vashti said in a statement that the "beautiful young warrior" died on a "sunny Sydney morning" in the "arms of his loving wife."