Ron Lester Dead: ‘Varsity Blues’ Actor Dies at 45

Ron Lester Death
Ron Lester during "Coach Carter" Los Angeles premiere . Merritt/FilmMagic

Ron Lester, the actor best known for his part as rough-and-tumble Billy Bob in the 1999 teen football flick Varsity Blues, died in Dallas just before 9 p.m. on Friday, June 17. He was 45.

The Georgia native had been hospitalized for about four months after battling liver and kidney problems, and on Friday, doctors finally removed his ventilator.

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“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.

In November, Lester revealed via social media that he had been hospitalized for issues with his liver and kidneys, but that he was “starting to heal.”

“Came close to dying! Without my fiancée Jennifer Worland, I wouldn’t be alive!” he tweeted at the time, along with a photo of the pair kissing.

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Scott Caan, Ron Lester, Jon Voight, Paul Walker, Eliel Swinton and James Van Der Beek
Scott Caan, Ron Lester, Jon Voight, Paul Walker, Eliel Swinton and James Van Der Beek in 1999’s ‘Varsity Blues.’ ace to face/ZUMAPRESS

Lester previously battled health issues related to his weight. At his heaviest, according to Variety, he weighed 508 pounds. He underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2001 and lost a collective 350 pounds, though his career took a nosedive after he was no longer cast in roles as the “funny, fat guy,” he told BodyBuilding.com.

“I sold my ‘niche’ for my chance to live,” he said. “I would never trade the life I have now with … the endless opportunities I have in store for me, with my old life.” (He later revealed to Grantland in a 2014 interview that he had flatlined while on the operating table.)

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

He even mocked his iconic Varsity Blues role in 2001 comedy Not Another Teen Movie.

He is survived by his fiancée.

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