Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, Jr passed away in December 2020. He’s best known for playing the character, Deebo in the hit movie franchise Friday. When he died, his family raised concerns about him having COVID-19. We now know those concerns were valid. Lister was COVID positive when he died, but an autopsy has revealed he ultimately succumbed to heart disease.
He was 62.
LOS ANGELES — Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr., a former professional wrestler and character actor known for his iconic role as hulking bully Deebo in the “Friday” films, has died at the age of 62.
Lister’s manager, Cindy Cowan, confirmed to The Associated Press that Lister was discovered unconscious in his Marina Del Ray, California, home on Thursday. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
TMZ first reported Lister’s passing, and his official cause of death has not been released.
Cowan also confirmed to the AP that Lister was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year and recovered but had recently developed difficulty breathing.
At 6-foot-5, Lister began his career as a wrestler, ultimately featured in a high-profile feud with Hulk Hogan in the WWF, and was billed as “Zeus: The Human Wrecking Machine, KRON reported.
His early TV and film roles included the HBO football series “1st and Ten,” a small part in Beverly Hills Cop II and a starring role in “No Holds Barred,” the 1989 movie in which his Zeus character challenged Hulk Hogan to wrestle, the AP reported.
He gained acclaim, however, portraying neighborhood bully Deebo in both films in the “Friday” franchise and also appeared in “The Fifth Element,” The Dark Knight” and “Austin Powers in Goldmember.”
The Compton native is survived by a daughter, KRON reported.
Cowan remembered Lister as a “gentle giant” with a “smile as broad as you can imagine.”
“He’s going to be missed by so many. We’re all devastated,” she told the AP.
WWE issued the following statement regarding Lister’s death.
“WWE is saddened to learn that Tom “Tiny” Lister, known as Zeus to the WWE Universe, passed away today at age 62. Zeus first entered the squared circle opposite Hulk Hogan in the 1989 film “No Holds Barred.” The rivalry extended beyond the big screen, as The Human Wrecking Machine quickly formed a common bond with “Macho Man” Randy Savage in their shared quest to take down The Immortal One. Zeus & Savage battled Hogan & Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake in the main event of SummerSlam 1989. … WWE extends its condolences to Lister’s family, friends and fans.”
- The Associated Press contributed to this report.