For Kirk Cameron,Alan Thicke was like family.
The two starred together on the '80s and '90s sitcom Growing Pains, in which they played son and dad Mike and Jason Seaver, who had a loving and often volatile relationship. Thicke died Tuesday at age 69 after suffering a heart attack.
In an interview with TODAY.com, posted Thursday, Cameron recalled how the actor was "always available on set and off to talk with me, to listen and understand, to give advice, calm my teenage nerves and even share my excitement when something great happened."
"Just like a good dad," he added.
In real life, Alan was a father to sons Robin Thicke, Brennan Thicke and Carter Thicke.
"Alan knew that time invested in his family—even more than his career—would be one of his greatest legacies," Cameron told TODAY.com.
The two kept in touch after Growing Pains ended its seven-season run.
"In an ever-changing world, my friendship with Alan was always a constant," he said. "Meeting up with Alan, even after years had passed since we'd seen each other—we'd just pick up the conversation where we'd left off."
Cameron and Alan were last photographed together in 2006, along with co-stars Tracey Gold and Jeremy Miller, who played Cameron's character's siblings. Cameron told TODAY.com Alan always organized reunions for the cast.
After news of Alan's death was made public, Cameron, his wife and Growing Pains co-star Chelsea Noble and more of the sitcom's cast members and recurring stars, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, paid tribute to the actor.
Cameron had said on Instagram Thicke was "a generous, kind and loving man," adding, "I am so blessed to have grown up with him."
"Chelsea and I send our love and prayers to his family tonight. We will cherish the memories," he said, then quoted from the Growing Pains theme song, "'Sharing the laughter and love.'"