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Bubba Smith dies: Remembering NFL star and 'Police Academy' actor

August 4, 2011 | 11:00 am

Bubba Smith is dead.

Bubba Smith, known for his work on the football field and on screens big and small, was found dead Wednesday in his Baldwin Hills home. Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith was 66.

He was found by his caretaker, who then called police, L.A. Now reported.

Photos: Bubba Smith | 1945-2011

Though non-sports fans might know Smith best as the actor who played soft-spoken Moses Hightower in the "Police Academy" movies and the man who loved Miller Lite's "easy-opening cans," he'd already made his mark on the gridiron as a No. 1 draft pick out of Michigan State University. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.

The 6-foot-7 Smith, born in Beaumont, Texas, played pro ball for the Colts (1967-1971), Raiders (1973-1974) and Oilers (1975-1976), taking home a Super Bowl ring with the then-Indianapolis Colts in 1970 and playing in two Pro Bowls.

"I'm saddened by it," Colts owner Jim Irsay told ESPN. " I remember my first training camp in 1972 in Golden, Colo. I spent a lot of time with him there. He was a great guy. He was a giant, the biggest player on the field."

In addition to his recurring character in the "Police Academy" films, Smith showed up in commercials, on TV series -- think "BJ and the Bear," "MacGyver," "Hart to Hart" -- and in movies through the late '70s, '80s and early '90s.

With no signs of foul play evident, the L.A. County coroner's office will decide Thursday whether to conduct an autopsy, commonly done when a person dies unattended, according to L.A. Now. Officials said Wednesday they believed Smith died of natural causes.

For now, time-travel back to 1979 with Bubba Smith and Miller Lite -- and that easy-opening can:

 

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-- Christie D'Zurilla

Left photo: Bubba Smith with Tim Kazurinsky, left, in "Police Academy 3: Back in Training." Credit: Warner Bros. / Getty Images

Right photo: Smith at a 2006 Michigan State University game that included a ceremony in which his number was retired. Credit: Michigan State University / Associated Press

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