Former NFL fullback Tim Lester dies from COVID-19 complications at 52

Longtime NFL fullback Tim Lester died Tuesday of complications from COVID-19. Photo by Fellowship Christian/Facebook
Longtime NFL fullback Tim Lester died Tuesday of complications from COVID-19. Photo by Fellowship Christian/Facebook

Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Former NFL fullback TIm Lester has died of complications from COVID-19. He was 52.

Lester's family said he tested positive for COVID-19 10 days ago and died Tuesday morning at his Milton, Ga., home. Family members suspect that a pulmonary embolism -- a blockage of an artery to his lungs -- led to his death.


Lester was born and raised in Miami, attended Eastern Kentucky University and became a 10th-round pick by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1992 NFL Draft.

He went on to play three seasons for the Rams and four seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He spent his final season in 1999 with the Dallas Cowboys.

He had 47 catches for 331 yards and 33 rushes for 126 yards and a touchdown in 93 games. He also was a standout special teams player.

During his time with the Rams and Steelers, Lester served as the lead blocker for Hall of Fame running back Jerome "The Bus" Bettis, earning the nickname "Bus Driver." He helped lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl appearance in 1996.


"Tim, you were more than my fullback, you were my brother," Bettis wrote Tuesday on Instagram. "You paved the way for me.

"I can't express how much I am going to miss you. My condolences go out to Natalie, your beautiful children, and the entire Lester family. May you rest in peace and power."

Lester blocked for Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith in his final season as an NFL player.

"It's a sad day to hear of Tim Lester's passing," Smith tweeted Tuesday. "My thoughts go out to his family, Steelers nation and his teammates that he so steadily blocked and protected."

Lester received the NFL's Unsung Hero Award in 1996 and 1997 for his community service efforts. He continued those efforts in retirement.

Former NFL fullback Tim Lester (C) -- who died Tuesday -- is survived by wife, Natalie, sons Tristan (L) and T.J. (R) and daughter Toni. Photo by Natalie Lester

Lester spent his life after football as a volunteer motivational speaker and in a ministerial capacity. He also was a high school football running backs coach and led a youth football program.

"I have known Tim for many years and always thought the world of him," Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood said in a news release.


"He was sincere and passionate about helping people and making the world a better place, including here in Milton."

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Betty White attends the media preview for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's Beastly Ball fundraiser at the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles on June 11, 2015. The actress died December 31. She was 99 years old. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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