AP ATLANTA — Dexter Scott King, who dedicated much of his life to shepherding the civil rights legacy of his parents, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, died Monday after battling prostate cancer. He was 62.

The King Center in Atlanta, which Dexter King served as chairman, said the younger son of the civil rights icon died at his home in Malibu, California. His wife, Leah Weber King, said in a statement that he died “peacefully in his sleep.”

The third of the Kings’ four children, Dexter King was named for the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father served as a pastor when the Montgomery bus boycott launched him to national prominence in the wake of the 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks.

Dexter King was just 7 years old when his father was assassinated in April 1968 while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.

“He turned that pain into activism, however, and dedicated his life to advancing the dream Martin and Coretta Scott King had for their children” and others, the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement. He said Dexter King “left us far too soon.”

FILE – This 1966 file photo is the last official portrait taken of the entire King family, made in the study of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. From left are Dexter King, Yolanda King, Martin Luther King Jr., Bernice King, Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King III

Dexter King described the impact his father’s killing had on his childhood, and the rest of his life, in a 2004 memoir, “Growing Up King.”

“Ever since I was seven, I’ve felt I must be formal,” he wrote, adding: “Formality, seriousness, certitude — all these are difficult poses to maintain, even if you’re a person with perfect equilibrium, with all the drama life throws at you.”

As an adult, Dexter King bore such a striking resemblance to his famous father that he was cast to portray him in a 2002 TV move about Parks starring Angela Bassett.

He also worked to protect the King family’s intellectual property. In addition to serving as chairman of the King Center, he was also president of the King estate.

FILE – Dexter King, son of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, pictured in background, speaks to the media during a news conference Thursday, Feb 13, 1997, in Atlanta in which the King family asked that James Earl Ray be brought to trial for the murder of Martin Luther King AP Photo/Alan Mothner

Dexter King and his siblings, who shared control of the family estate, didn’t always agree on how to uphold their parents’ legacy.

In one particularly bitter disagreement, the siblings ended up in court after Dexter King and his brother in 2014 sought to sell the Nobel Peace Prize their father was awarded in 1964 along with the civil rights leader’s traveling Bible used by President Barack Obama for his second inauguration. Bernice King said she found the notion unthinkable.

The King siblings settled the dispute in 2016 after former President Jimmy Carter served as a mediator. The items were turned over to the brothers, but other terms of the settlement were kept confidential.

Decades earlier, Dexter King made headlines when he publicly declared that he believed James Earl Ray, who pleaded guilty in 1969 to murdering his father, was innocent. They met in 1997 at a Nashville prison amid an unsuccessful push by King family members to have Ray stand trial, hoping the case would reveal evidence of a broader conspiracy.

FILE – The children of the Rev Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, from left, Martin Luther King, Jr III, Dexter King, Yolanda King and Bernice King stand next to a new crypt dedicated to their parents in Atlanta, Monday Nov. 20, 2006. The King Center in Atlanta said Dexter, the 62-year-old son of the civil rights leader, died Monday, Jan 22, 2024 at his California home after battling prostate cancer. (AP Photo/W.A. Harewood, File)Read

When Ray said during their prison meeting that he wasn’t the killer, Dexter King replied: “I believe you and my family believes you.” But Ray never got a trial. He died from liver failure the following year.

Dexter King is survived by his wife as well as his older brother, Martin Luther King III; his younger sister, the Rev. Bernice A. King; and a teenage niece, Yolanda Renee King.

Coretta Scott King died in 2006, followed by the Kings’ oldest child, Yolanda Denise King, in 2007.

“Words cannot express the heart break I feel from losing another sibling,” Bernice King said in a statement.

Martin Luther King III said: “The sudden shock is devastating. It is hard to have the right words at a moment like this. We ask for your prayers at this time for the entire King family.”

FILE – Dexter King, son of Martin Luther King Jr, speaks to the press outlining his family’s plan for an interactive museum to be built at the MLK Center in Atlanta, Dec. 28, 1994. Dexter Scott King, the younger son of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, has died after battling prostate cancer. The King Center in Atlanta says the 62-year-old son of the civil rights leader died Monday, Jan 22, 2024 at his California home after battling prostate cancer AP Photo/Leita Cowart

A memorial service will be announced later, the King Center said. The family planned a news conference Tuesday in Atlanta.

This story has been corrected to remove a reference to Dexter Scott King being an attorney.

FILE – Dexter King, son of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, listens to arguments in the State Court of Criminal Appeals in Jackson, Tenn., Friday, Aug. 29, 1997, to determine whether two Memphis judges have overstepped their authority surrounding the investigation of the King assassination. The King Center in Atlanta said the 62-year-old son of the civil rights leader died Monday, Jan 22, 2024 at his California home after battling prostate cancer. (Helen Comer/The Jackson Sun via AP, Pool