Missy Schwartz
July 24, 2009 AT 10:26 PM EDT

Best-selling author E. Lynn Harris died today at age 54. According to Essence, the writer’s personal assistant declined to give details, but did confirm that Harris’ health had declined. He was in the middle of a West Coast tour to promote his 11th novel, Basketball Jones, when he passed away.

Harris was best known for such successful novels as Invisible Life, Just As I Am, Too Good To Be True, Abide With Me, as well as his 2004 memoir What Becomes of The Brokenhearted. He specialized in writing about African-American gay culture, including the “down-low” phenomenon in the world of professional sports. (Basketball Jones is the story of an NBA star and his gay lover.) Born in Michigan and raised in Arkansas, Harris recently taught English at the University of Arkansas as a visiting professor.

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