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Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, who played Deebo in ‘Friday,’ dies at 62

Tommy 'Tiny' Lister fist-bumps a fan as people line the red carpet
Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister greets fans as he arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “Straight Outta Compton” at the Microsoft Theater.
(John Salangsang / Associated Press)

Tommy “Tiny” Lister, a former wrestler who was known for his Deebo character in the “Friday” films, has died. He was 62.

Lister’s manager, Cindy Cowan, said Lister was found unconscious in his home in Marina del Rey on Thursday afternoon. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cowan said Lister was diagnosed with COVID-19 this year. She said the actor had overcome the virus, but he became sick about a week ago and recently had trouble breathing.

The cause of death has not been released, and the coroner’s office is investigating.

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“He was a gentle giant,” Cowan said. “He had a smile as broad as you could imagine. He’s going to be missed by so many. We’re all devastated.”

Lister started his career as a wrestler, standing 6-foot-5 with broad shoulders at about 275 pounds. His early roles included the HBO football series “1st & Ten” along with appearances in “Beverly Hills Cop II,” which starred Eddie Murphy, and “No Holds Barred,” the 1989 film in which his character, Zeus, challenged Hulk Hogan in a wrestling match.

Tommy Lister
Tommy Lister attends the Mike Tyson Standing United and Tyson Ranch Celebrity Golf Tournament in Dana Point.
(Willy Sanjuan / Associated Press)

However, Lister’s most notable role came in the 1995 film “Friday” and its sequel five years later. He portrayed the role of Deebo, a felon who was known as the neighborhood bully who terrorized his neighbors with intimidation and fear. His character was known for his infamous line “Get knocked out like your father used to.”

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Lister also appeared in “The Fifth Element,” “The Dark Knight” and “Austin Powers in Goldmember.”

“RIP Tiny ‘Deebo’ Lister,” Ice Cube said Thursday night on Instagram. “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.”

The death was first reported by celebrity website TMZ.


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