Bubba Smith dies at 66

Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1967 NFL draft who later found fame as an actor, has died at the age of 66.

After ending an All-American career at Michigan State in 1966, Smith was taken first in the draft by the Baltimore Colts. He played on Baltimore’s defensive line for five years, then was traded to the Oakland Raiders, where he played in 1973 and 1974, and finished his career with the Houston Oilers in 1975 and 1976.

The 6-foot-7, 265-pound Smith was one of the biggest players of his era. He won a ring at Super Bowl V and went to two Pro Bowls.

After retiring, Smith became an actor. He was best known for playing Moses Hightower in the first six Police Academy movies.

No cause of death has been determined, but officials said they believe Smith died of natural causes.

53 responses to “Bubba Smith dies at 66

  1. Charles Aaron completely changed the perception of “Bubba” in the mind of America.

  2. Sad. A great football player, a fun actor…and according to teammates, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

  3. What a shame. I’m way to young to have watched him play football, but I love Police Academy. He was such a lovable character, and seemed like an all around nice guy. R.I.P Bubba.

  4. My grandparents taught school in the same town where Bubba’s dad was a high school coach. Willie Sr. was highly respected. Bubba’s oldest brother, Willie Jr., was Gale Sayers blocking back at Kansas and was well on his way to a pro career himself until a knee injury took him out. 66 is way too young to be checking out. Vaya con dios.

  5. NOOO!!

    Growing up in Baltimore in the 80s, he was such a figure from hearing stories about him playing before i was born and watching him on the Police Academy movies and local commercials…definitely sad…especially at 66…

  6. @jersey73 says: Aug 3, 2011 6:38 PM

    “Sad. A great football player, a fun actor…and according to teammates, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.”

    I’ll second that. I met Smith in LA in the late eighties at a charity function, He was friendly, smart and very soft spoken.

    Great guy.

  7. that’s too bad. he was also in one of my favorite episodes of married with children. that showdown with him and al was tv at its best.

  8. All the chemicals in our food and water and they consider that “Natural Causes” (Fleeced by the U.S. Gov’t)

  9. I was in awe of him when he was in his prime. And I’ll never forget his terribly unfortunate injury, when he ruined his knee by crashing into the first down marker. I believe that gruesome injury prompted the NFL to change the poles from metal to a more flexible plastic. I saw that game live and all these years later, still cringe when I recall that freak incident. He returned to play at a high level, but was never the same.

  10. RIP officer hightower. loved you, both on the field and in your movie and television appearances.

  11. He motivated me to read his book, “Kill, Bubba, Kill!” from cover to cover. A feat that scores of teachers after that failed to accomplish.

    I loved the scene in Police Academy where they had to remove the front seat of a car so he could fit in it.

  12. He was one of the main reasons I played football in High School and College. Both he and Lyle Alzado were the people I so wanted to be like. Thank you for giving me (and all of us who enjoyed all you did on the field and off the field!) so much!

  13. Damn. More and more of those champion Baltimore Colts passing. It’s a sad day.

    And what a personality Smith had! Great player and great all around guy.

  14. I just watched police academy the other day. I’m glad to have enjoyed it one more time before he passed. RIP

  15. Bubba went to my gym and loved to talk football. He was always surrounded by guys that wanted to talk to him about his days playing ball and get his opinions about the upcoming games. He will be missed. A real nice guy. He told once he could see the fear in the eyes of the man trying to block him. Awesome!

  16. Wow this is a real sad shocker. Bubba not only was too young to pass on, but the man looked like he could still play football. I never in my wildest dreams thought Bubba Smith was close to passing away. Ive met him numerous times, and one of the nicest, kindest athletes in NFL history. True class act. Its horribly sad, but if we could all pass away in the kind of condition Bubba was in I would say we were pretty lucky.

  17. The 1966 Michigan St-Notre Game – perhaps the best college game ever played. More pros came out of that game than any other.

    And sadly – Bubba was never as dominant after wrecking his knee on the first down marker.

  18. I learned some thing here tonight. 1. I didn’t know he played for the Colts before moving here to Indiana, 2. I sure in the hell Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith played the role of hightower. I was a kid when he played football. But he is a good actor though. Loved the movies.

  19. RIP Bubba. One of the last of the truly GREAT players and great gentlemen. I’m so fortunate to have seen you play.

  20. So sad and YES 66 is young to die of “natural causes.”

    “Says here the name’s…Bubba Smith”. Wish that wasn’t the obits. 🙁

    As an aside I will never understand how any post that expresses sincere condolences gets thumbs down. WTF?

  21. I received an electric football game under the Christmas tree in 1971. Baltimore Colts v Dallas Cowboys. Possibly the best Christmas present I ever received. I still have the Baltimore Colts pennant that was included. Bubba was a prominent member of that Baltimore Colts team. RIP.

  22. A great guy from what I hear. Sad to hear of his passing. Though undeniably sad, it is something that we all have to do. Unfortunately, no one leaves this rock alive.

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