The King Center announced that Dexter died on Monday after a "valiant battle with prostate cancer"
The King Center announced that Dexter died on Monday after a "valiant battle with prostate cancer," according to a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“He transitioned peacefully in his sleep at home with me in Malibu,” his wife of 11 years, Leah Weber King, said in a statement.
“He gave it everything and battled this terrible disease until the end. As with all the challenges in his life, he faced this hurdle with bravery and might,” she added.
Dexter, who was 7 years old when his father was assassinated in 1968, served as the chairman of the King Center at the time of his death.
“The son of the Civil Rights icons was the family member delegated to take on the mantle of continuing the precedent his father set by legally protecting his work. He devoted his life to the continued perpetuation of his father’s legacy,” read the King Center’s statement.
Dexter, who was born on Jan. 30, 1961, was named after the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father "served his first pastorate." He went on to follow in his father's footsteps by attending Morehouse College.
“Known to be humble about his uncanny resemblance to his father, he portrayed him in the 2002 television movie, The Rosa Parks Story,” per the statement. Although he initially relocated to California to pursue a career in acting, “family duty called and he answered.”
Brother Martin Luther King III said that the "sudden shock" of Dexter's death "was devastating."
“It is hard to have the right words at a moment like this,” he said. “We ask for your prayers at this time for the entire King family.”
Dexter's sister, Dr. Bernice A. King, the CEO of The King Center, said that words couldn't express her heartbreak. "I’m praying for strength to get through this very difficult time," she added.
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Dexter is preceded in death by his father, his mother, and his sister Yolanda, who died in 2007. He is survived by his wife, sister, brother, niece Yolanda Renee King, and other extended family.
A memorial service, which will be held at a later time, has yet to be announced.
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