Tommy “Tiny” Lister was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and had trouble breathing in the week leading up to this death, his manager told TheWrap.
Cindy Cowan, his manager and friend for 20 years, said Lister’s health started to go downhill last Thursday. She said he began feeling very tired and was forced to cancel a film shoot over the weekend.
Lister did not get tested for COVID-19 and instead decided to self-quarantine, Cowan said. He was a diabetic and had tested positive for COVID-19 five months ago, Cowan added, and that he experienced symptoms at the time. She said that Lister had been in great shape and stayed very active during the quarantine months.
On Tuesday, Lister was scheduled to appear virtually for a TV festival but was forced to cancel because he was having trouble speaking. Cowan had her assistant check on him and brought over vitamins and a Z-Pak to help with his symptoms.
“He went down so fast,” Cowan said.
By Wednesday, friends and family became concerned and tried to call Lister, but he did not answer. On Thursday, a friend went to check on him and when Lister did not answer, the friend called police. That is when Lister’s body was discovered.
Lister — who stood 6 feet, 5 inches tall — started his career as a wrestler before moving on to films. His early roles included “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “No Holds Barred” and the HBO football series “1st & Ten.”
Lister’s biggest role came when he got to flex his comedy muscles as the neighborhood bully Deebo in 1995’s “Friday” and 2000’s “Next Friday” and as President Lindberg in Luc Besson’s 1997 sci-fi film “The Fifth Element.” That year, he also played a bail agent in Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown.”
In addition, Lister had parts in “The Dark Knight,” “Confidence,” “Austin Powers in Goldmember” and did the voice of Finnick in “Zootopia.”
Ice Cube paid tribute to his “Friday” co-star, tweeting: “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.”