Navigating child stardom is a difficult thing — something we are reminded of again with the news of Jackson Odell’s death.
For nearly 10 of his 20 years, he has been a working actor on shows, including The Goldbergs, Modern Family, and iCarly, and along the way he added singing to his repertoire, writing songs for Forever My Girl and other films. Although his future looked bright, his true dreams will never be realized. He was found dead Friday in a sober living home in Los Angeles.
TMZ was first to report his whereabouts, and People confirmed the news on Monday. A rep for the L.A. County Coroner’s Office told the magazine that there was no paraphernalia or drugs found on the scene when he was found unresponsive. His cause of death is pending an autopsy.
To the uninitiated, sober living homes are group homes for different types of addicts. It’s a less stringent setting than a rehab facility and residents are given more freedom. They tend to come and go as they please as long as they abstain from whatever they are addicted to and abide by the house rules — for instance: a certain curfew and random drug tests. Many times, people leave rehab and move into a sober house as they continue to ease back into their lives after becoming sober. Many celebrities who have an addiction, including Demi Lovato and Lindsay Lohan, have stayed in sober houses as they worked to get clean.
It’s unclear when Odell began experiencing problems with addiction that would lead to that type of living situation. In 2013, he wrote on Twitter, “I don’t drink.”
Last year, he retweeted a post from fellow singer Jason Isbell that urged people not to offer to buy a drink for someone they know is recovering from alcohol addiction. The post said: “It’s really dumb to keep offering after that person has politely refused. Seems like this would be common knowledge, but it happens to me fairly often.”
For what it’s worth, Odell was OK with writing songs about drinking, though. He gets a co-writing credit for the song “Don’t Water Down My Whiskey” from the 2018 film Forever My Girl. In an interview at the premiere for the film, he was asked what inspires his songs. “I draw inspiration from truth , where ever that may lie,” he said. He recently wrote a song for Shawn Mendes, he said on comedian Josh Wolf’s podcast. (Wolf’s wife, Bethany Wolf, directed Forever My Girl.)
TMZ reported on Monday that Odell had a history of heroin use — but didn’t cite the source of that information. However, the website claimed that he was clean when he underwent a recent drug test. It also noted that he had been living in the sober house for three weeks.
The Odell family issued a statement making it clear that regardless of the findings by the coroner’s department in the autopsy, they have their own truth about Jackson Odell and that’s the one they’ll carry forward. They urged “the rest of the world” to do that “as well.”
Josh Wolf paid tribute to his friend on Monday. He emphasized how alive he was. “It’s important that people know how ready he was to live,” Wolf wrote. “How happy he was to be alive. How much more he had to share with all of us. We are simply crushed. Please go to his site, listen to his music, watch his videos…celebrate his life with us. We love you, Jackson. This is a picture of he and I writing a song together.”
Modern Family‘s Ariel Winter was also “devastated” by the news. She said they were child stars together, he later appeared on her show, and although they lost touch in high school, she was glad “to spend time with him before his end.” She added that she was especially saddened because he is so young.
Another sad story out of Hollywood.
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