On Friday, Omar Leyva, who played Luis Rivera (the father at the center of Meredith Grey’s insurance fraud scandal), posted a touching tribute to the 49-year-old actor, calling him a “honest and humble man.”
“#JustinChambers is an honest & humble man who made me feel so appreciated from my first episode on #GreysAnatomy. ,” Leyva wrote in the caption. “To have shared in his last episode, #greys350, after his incredible run, is unbelievable. From our conversations, I know how much he loves his beautiful family and how ready and deserving he is to venture beyond #alexkarev. Buena Suerte! (I also need to console my niece now!).”
#JustinChambers is an honest & humble man who made me feel so appreciated from my first episode on #GreysAnatomy. To have shared in his last episode, #greys350, after his incredible run, is unbelievable. From our conversations, I know how much he loves his beautiful family and how ready and deserving he is to venture beyond #alexkarev. Buena Suerte! (I also need to console my niece now!)
A post shared by Omar Leyva (@mromarleyva) on Jan 10, 2020 at 10:16pm PST
On Friday, ABC confirmed to PEOPLE that the original cast member had left Grey’s after starring as Dr. Alex Karev for 16 seasons. His final episode aired on Nov. 14, 2019.
“There’s no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that’s defined so much of my life for the past 15 years,” Chambers said in a statement to PEOPLE. “For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time.”
He added, “As I move on from Grey’s Anatomy, I want to thank the ABC family, Shonda Rimes, original cast members Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew, both past and present, and, of course, the fans for an extraordinary ride.”
In Chambers’ last episode, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) fought to have her medical license reinstated after she was caught committing insurance fraud in order to save a young patient. (Leyva played the young child’s father.)
In order to persuade the board in Meredith’s favor, Alex brought in a group of Meredith’s former patients. Alex also read letters from other doctors on Meredith’s behalf, including ones from Cristina Yang, Callie Torres, Addison Montgomery, April Kepner and Arizona Robbins.
In his final frames, Alex was among his friends and colleagues as Meredith’s lawyer revealed that his efforts worked — and Meredith’s license was reinstated.
Chambers was noticeably absent from the midseason finale, and it was explained that his character, Karev, was taking care of his ailing mother — and will not get a send-off episode.
Deadline first reported the news of Chambers’ exit.
One big question remains unanswered: What does this mean for Alex’s wife, Jo Wilson Karev (Camilla Luddington)?
Last season, the duo realized they never mailed in their signed marriage license (after their ferry boat wedding in season 14), and it had expired. Then going through a difficult time, Jo gave Alex “an out” as she signed herself into a psychiatric facility.
But Alex wasn’t having it and proposed again after she finished her month-long stint at the facility.
“I don’t want an out, you hear me,” he told Jo after her 30 days in in-patient therapy were over. “You offered me an out. You were right. I was scared, so I thought about it and what I know for sure now is I’m a better man with you. I want to be your husband. I want you to be my wife.”
After receiving funding for his hospital Pac-North, Alex told Jo during the Halloween episode, “We should do something to celebrate. What time does the courthouse close? The two then stood in front of a judge in full costume.
Grey’s Anatomy‘s midseason premiere airs on Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.