Fans and former co-stars have expressed their sadness about the passing of legendary athlete, actor and wrestling star Thomas "Tiny" Lister, who was found dead on Thursday at the age of 62.
Lister, best known for his roles in box office hits like Friday and The Dark Knight , was found dead in his apartment on Thursday afternoon according to his manager Cindy Cowan.
Cowan told HuffPost and TMZ that Lister had COVID-19 earlier this year and seemed to recover. But he complained about being sick last week and said he had problems with his breathing. TMZ said friends and family became worried after not hearing from Lister at all on Thursday and asked police to do a wellness check at his home in Marina Del Rey, California.
“He was a gentle giant,” Cowan told HuffPost. “He had a smile as broad as you could imagine. He’s going to be missed by so many. We’re all devastated.”
While Lister is widely known for his role in Friday as "Deebo," he was a decorated athlete who played professional football and was a professional wrestler at various points in his career.
The 6'5," 250-pound Lister was born blind in one eye in Compton, California. He became a star track and field athlete at Cal State University Los Angeles, ABC News reported. Lister was the 1982 NCAA Division II shotput champion and played for the New Orleans Breakers of the United States Football League.
He first appeared in an HBO show called 1st and 10 before getting a spot role in Beverly Hills Cop II. He then played "Zeus" in the 1989 Hulk Hogan movie No Holds Barred. Lister ended up wrestling against Hogan in real life after the success of the movie. He also wrestled for a bit with World Championship Wrestling.
But Ice Cube's 1995 Friday is what launched him into superstardom. Quotes and clips from his character "Deebo" can still be found floating around social media and have become iconic parts of Black culture.
I lost another very close friend yesterday. My homie Tiny Lister passed away…. I’m speechless. We did many films together and were close personal friends.. RIP Debo. ???? pic.twitter.com/Mulfpp9LAw
— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) December 11, 2020
Lister's former co-star Ice Cube took to Twitter and Instagram to mourn him.
"RIP Tiny 'Deebo' Lister. America’s favorite bully was a born entertainer who would pop into character at the drop of a hat terrifying people on and off camera. Followed by a big smile and laugh. Thank you for being a good dude at heart. I miss you already," Ice Cube wrote.
RIP Tiny “Deebo” Lister. America’s favorite bully was a born entertainer who would pop into character at the drop of a hat terrifying people on and off camera. Followed by a big smile and laugh. Thank you for being a good dude at heart. I miss you already. pic.twitter.com/jIl8yEZU9c
— Ice Cube (@icecube) December 11, 2020
RIP Tiny Lister, aka Deebo, aka Zeus, aka President Lindberg, aka Winston the bail bondsman. One of the greatest movie villains of all time. Without saying a word, his scowl and sneer sent everyone into hiding. No one ever ever looked more terrifying in a Pendleton. What a legend pic.twitter.com/O9EbQHki5k
— Otto Von Biz Markie (@Passionweiss) December 11, 2020
— Taz Hill (@TAZdashit1) December 11, 2020
Lister has a long acting resume that included dozens of hit films like The Players Club, The Fifth Element, Jackie Brown, Austin Powers in Goldmember, The Dark Knight and Zootopia.
He also appeared in dozens of music videos. He leaves behind a daughter.