'Deebo' Of 'Friday' Fame Had COVID-19 When He Died But That's Not What Killed Him

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Tommy “Tiny” Lister — best known for playing ruthless neighborhood bully Deebo in the Friday film franchise — passed away last year at the age of 62. While his cause of death wasn’t immediately known at the time, TMZ reports the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner concluded Lister succumbed to hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (more commonly known as heart disease) following the autopsy.

While Lister also had COVID-19 at the time of his passing, that’s not what killed him. However, the Medical Examiner did discover fluid in his chest, an enlarged heart with high blood pressure, poor blood circulation in his legs and coronary artery disease.

On December 10, 2020, friends and family grew increasingly concerned when they hadn’t heard from Lister for roughly 24 hours. Police conducted a welfare check at his Marina del Rey, California home and discovered his body inside. He pronounced dead at the scene.

Ice Cube, who played tough-talking Craig Jones in the Friday movies, headed to Twitter shortly after the news broke and wrote, “RIP Tiny ‘Deebo’ Lister. 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.”

Tiny Lister started in several movies over the course of his career. Following Friday, he reprised his role as Deebo in the 2000 sequel Next Friday. Other film credits include Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), The Fifth Element (1997), The Wash (2001) and The Dark Night (2008). In 2016, he appeared on Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘N Out and in the 2017 film American Justice. 

Prior to John “Pops” Witherspoon 2019 death, there’d been plans for another installment of Friday, but it never came to fruition. Ice Cube broached the topic during Witherspoon’s funeral in November 2019.

“I really apologize to my friend for not getting the next Friday movie made,” he said at the time. “It’s not my fault. Some dumbass people in Hollywood at New Line Cinema, if you wanna … you can email Toby Emmerich and Richard Brener if you feel like I feel. Yeah, you punks had two scripts and you didn’t wanna do them. That’s the real. We were tryin’ to make that movie for years and we couldn’t get it done. We got the other three and we got our memories.”