Artimus Lamont Bentley, an up-and-coming actor who was best known for playing Hakeem Campbell on the UPN comedy "Moesha," died on Jan. 19 in a car accident. He was 31.

The Milwaukee native was in his teens when he moved to Los Angeles with his mother, Loyce, an aspiring singer. Bentley's knack for making people laugh during his mother's auditions inspired him to build a show business career of his own.

Bentley first worked in commercials, hawking Starburst candies in television ads and encouraging teen fathers to take responsibility for their offspring in a public service announcement. He then made numerous guest appearances on TV shows, such as "The Client," "The Sentinel," "Soul Food," "Clueless" and "NYPD Blue." Bentley got his big break in 1996 when he was hired to star opposite R&B singer Brandy on the sitcom "Moesha." His latest project was the short independent film "Shards."

Outside of acting, Bentley had an interest in rap music. In recent years, he and his partner Tyson formed the unsigned hip-hop duo, Uprise. Sisters in Style magazine once named Bentley one of the top 20 African-American "hunks" in the entertainment industry. The mayor of Milwaukee also honored him with a "Lamont Bentley Day."

Early Wednesday morning, Bentley was traveling by himself on the 118 Freeway near Simi Valley, Calif. His Mercedes-Benz exited the highway, ran a stop sign, blew through a chain link fence and rolled down an embankment. Bentley was ejected from the vehicle and into traffic where five cars struck him. Test results showed no drugs or alcohol in his system.