“Pickleball, I think, was an outlet for him,” Pickleball coach Matt Manasse told Entertainment Tonight in an interview on Sunday, October 29. “It was something that he became obsessed with, and that was his new healthy addiction, and he loved it.”
Before his tragic death, Perry played pickleball about four to five times a week and “seemed like he was in a really good place and a happy place,” Manasse told the outlet.
“I’m just happy that, you know, if anything, he had a lot of fun and pleasure being on a pickleball court around people that he enjoyed, because he gave us so much joy,” Manasse said.
Perry rose to stardom while filming the iconic NBC sitcom Friends, where he played Chandler Bing from 1994 to 2004. He starred alongside Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer.
Manasse said Perry’s star quality was something “most people don’t have.”
“He would bring other people to the court sometimes that were going through similar things and try to use pickleball to help them as well,” Manasse said. “He really had his heart always open and would always try to make everyone laugh, too.”
On Saturday, October 28, Perry was found dead in a jacuzzi at a home in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Coroner’s office confirmed his death on Sunday, and listed the investigation as ongoing. He was 54.
Perry had been open about his struggles with substance abuse during his life. After a jet ski accident in 1997, he became addicted to Vicodin, which eventually led to his alcohol abuse.
He went to rehab 15 times over the years. In his candid 2022 book, Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing, Perry revealed he was only sober during season 9 of Friends.
“You can track the trajectory of my addiction if you gauge my weight from season to season — when I’m carrying weight, it’s alcohol; when I’m skinny, it’s pills. When I have a goatee, it’s lots of pills,” he wrote at the time. “[Compare] how I look between the final episode of season 6 and the first of season 7. I’m wearing the same clothes in the final episode of 6 and the first of 7 [it’s supposed to be the same night], but I must have lost fifty pounds in the off-season.”