Martin Lawrence Michael Clarke Duncan Will be Missed ... Tremendously

9/4/2012 2:20 PM PDT

Martin Lawrence has issued a statement on the death of his friend Michael Clarke Duncan ... telling TMZ he had the privilege of working with the big man WAY before MCD became an actor.

Lawrence tells us, "From the days of him doing security on the 'Martin' show, to us working together on 'Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins,' I enjoyed working with him.  He will be missed."

Martin adds, "My condolences go out to his family and loved ones."

FYI -- Duncan was a bigtime private security guard in Hollywood before he made it big as an actor ... working for stars like Will Smith, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx and Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls).