Friday Actor and 'Gentle Giant' Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Dead at 62 After Experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms

Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister poses for a portrait during Relativity Media’s “Movie 43" Los Angeles premiere on January 23, 2013.
Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister poses for a portrait during Relativity Media’s “Movie 43" Los Angeles premiere on January 23, 2013.
Photo: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images for Relativity Media (Getty Images)

Tommy “Tiny” Lister, best-known for portraying “Deebo” in F. Gary Gray’s directorial debut Friday, has died at the age of 62, per TMZ. An official cause of death has not been determined.

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TMZ further reported:

A release from The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department says friends and business associates of Lister became worried Thursday when they hadn’t heard from him since Wednesday night. Deputies performed a welfare check where they made their way into his apartment and found him dead.

“He was a gentle giant and one-of-a-kind,” Lister’s manager Cindy Cowan said in a statement to People. “A man that’s like, been a brother to me for 20 years.”

Cowan added that Lister had been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, but did not test positive for the novel coronavirus prior to his death. In fact, he had been scheduled to work on a movie this weekend, but recently canceled.

“He was just really complaining, but he was too weak to go to the doctor,” she added.

Born June 24, 1958, in Compton, Calif., Lister was blind in his right eye with a detached and deformed retina. “I started doing these movies and God said, ‘You thought it was a curse. It was a blessing,’” he told Grantland in a 2014 interview. “[My eye] became my trademark in Hollywood.”

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Along with portraying notable character roles such as Deebo in Friday and its sequel, Next Friday, Lister also had a short professional wrestling career in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Lister’s list of other onscreen credit was quite robust, including The Fifth Element, No Holds Barred, The Dark Knight, The Players Club, Zootopia, The Meteor Man, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Jackie Brown, Beverly Hills Cop II, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin, Moesha, The Jamie Foxx Show, Matlock, and more. He also made appearances in music videos such as Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” and Ice Cube’s “You Can Do It.’

Friday - Here Come Deebo! / YouTube

Fans and celebrity peers took to social media to honor the late actor following the release of the tragic news.

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“RIP Tiny “Deebo” Lister,” his Friday co-star Ice Cube wrote on Twitter. “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.”

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Rest in Power to the “gentle giant” known as Tommy “Tiny” Lister.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

DISCUSSION

whiskertriscuit
whiskertriscuit

For me, the first time I saw Tiny Lister was in the context of his WWF appearances as Zeus to promote No Holds Barred.

He was absolutely terrifying to me as he could exude menace without even trying.

Seeing him in movies later, notably Friday, he still carried that aura in a way that it was hard to discern reality and acting.

RIP big man.