James Van Der Beek Pays Tribute to ‘Varsity Blues’ Costar Ron Lester: ‘He Was a Sensitive Soul With a Huge Heart’

James Van Der Beek Ron Lester
Ron Lester starred in 1999's 'Varsity Blues' along with James Van Der Beek. Paramount Pictures

Rest in peace, bud. James Van Der Beek paid tribute to his Varsity Blues costar Ron Lester in a series of touching tweets on Saturday, June 18, just one day after the actor’s death at the age of 45.

“Sad day … #RonLester was a sensitive soul with a huge heart,” the 39-year-old Dawson’s Creek alum wrote about his costar in the 1999 teen football film. “Everything you loved about Billy Bob was authentically Ron. #RIP bud.”

Van Der Beek added that Lester was a dedicated individual who gave it his all on set.

“I’ll never forget how committed #RonLester was on every take – even when the camera wasn’t on him … #giving #rare,” he tweeted.

As Us Weekly previously reported, Lester died just before 9 p.m. on Friday, June 17, of liver and kidney failure. He had been hospitalized four months ago, and only recently was moved to the intensive care unit. Doctors removed his ventilator on Friday.

“He was not in pain and passed away peacefully,” Lester’s agent, Dave Bradley, wrote in a Facebook post following the actor’s death, noting that his fiancée, Jennifer Worland, and his family and friends were at his bedside when he passed.

The actor, who was best known for his role as fun-loving, rough-and-tumble Billy Bob in the classic '90s flick, underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2001 and went from 508 pounds down to just over 150 pounds.

“I sold my ‘niche’ for my chance to live,” he told BodyBuilding.com in an interview following the procedure. “I would never trade the life I have now with … the endless opportunities I have in store for me, with my old life.”

In addition to Varsity Blues, Lester also had roles on the WB series Popular and on short-lived cult favorite Freaks and Geeks.

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