Matthew Perry’s close friend and pickleball coach, Matt Manasse, says the actor was in “good spirits” and “he seemed like he was in a really good place and a happy place,” prior to his death at age 54 on October 28.
Manasse said the tennis ace had become consumed with the sport, which he played four to five times a week, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight published on Sunday, October 29.
“Pickleball, I think was an outlet for him,” he shared. “It was something that he became obsessed with, and that was his new healthy addiction, and he loved it.”
The Friends alum even used pickleball to help those overcoming substance abuse issues, as Perry had battled addiction for years.
“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 revealed, adding, “He really had his heart always open and would always try to make everyone laugh, too.”
Perry was found unresponsive by his assistant in his home’s hot tub after playing a game of pickleball with a friend earlier in the day. Paramedics responded but the star was pronounced dead at the scene from an apparent drowning.
An autopsy was performed by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner the day after Perry’s death, but the initial results were inconclusive pending a toxicology report, as the Fools Rush In star’s cause of death has been “deferred” pending further tests.
Extra host Billy Bush wrote in a tribute to Perry how much the Odd Couple alum had become devoted to playing pickleball but that his partner said he left their game early on the day of his death after feeling tired.
“Lately his greatest joy was the game of #pickleball (he didn’t like the name but he LOVED the game). He played every day and sometimes twice. It regulated his days. I spoke to the woman he played with this morning and every morning. She is in shock, adored Matt…” Bush wrote in an Instagram post, adding, “She said he had been fatigued today and over the past week. A little more than usual. He played for one hour then went home.”
Perry had been open about his struggle with addiction for most of his adult life, laying bare the degree to which drugs and alcohol consumed him in his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.
He revealed that he started drinking heavily before Friends debuted in 1994 and he was only sober for one season of the show. “I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble,” he wrote. “But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, ‘That should tell me something.’”
The 17 Again actor revealed to People he suffered from a gastrointestinal perforation at age 49 that led to his colon bursting due to opioid overuse and was given a two percent chance of survival. Perry was in a coma for two weeks and spent five months in the hospital. Even after leaving the hospital, the recovery was still challenging, and he had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.
In the introduction to his memoir, Perry wrote, “Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead,” before going on to detail his intense struggles with substance abuse.