Charles `Bubba’ Smith Dead at 66
LOS ANGELES, Calif. –“RIP”--Former NFL defensive end and actor Charles “Bubba” Smith known for his role in the “Police Academy” movies was found dead inside his Los Angeles home Wednesday. He was 66.
Los Angeles County coroner’s spokesman Ed Winter told the Associated Press that Smith’s body was discovered by a caretaker.
Police spokesman Richard French added the death does not appear suspicious.
Smith was the no. 1 NFL draft pick from Michigan University in 1967.
The 6-foot-7 Smith spent five seasons with the Baltimore Colts and two seasons with Houston and Oakland. During his time with the Colts, Smith won a Super Bowl in 1971.
"I'm saddened by it. 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," Colts owner Jim Irsay said.
"I had no idea that he was even ill or that anything could be wrong," former Michigan State teammate Gene Washington tells the Detroit Free Press. "It's incredibly sad, because Bubba was such a larger-than-life figure. Nothing surprised you with Bubba."
After his retirement in 1976, Smith pursued a career in acting, appearing in several Miller Lite commercials and enthralling audiences by ripping off the tops of "easy-opening" cans of beer. However, his most memorable role came as the tough but soft-spoken Officer Moses Hightower in the 1980s “Police Academy” franchise.
Born Charles Aaron Smith, he played in high school for his father, Willie Ray Smith, in Beaumont, Texas, before heading to Michigan State, where he was an All-American in 1966.
An autopsy to determine the cause of death will be performed later this week, but coroner's officials did not immediately say when. It's routine for the coroner to conduct autopsies when a doctor does not sign a death certificate, which is what happened in Smith's case, authorities said.