Andy Whitfield, the handsome Australian actor who starred in the first season of Starz's gladiator drama Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has died at age 39 from non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, the network confirms.

His wife, Vashti Whitfield, issued this statement:

"On a beautiful, sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18 month battle with lymphoma cancer. He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have help carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was."

A statement from Starz president Chris Albrecht:

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield. 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. 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."

[LAT, image via Getty]