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Ron Lester, who is perhaps best known for playing Billy Bob in Varsity Blues, has passed away due to complications with his liver and kidneys. The actor was moved on Friday evening from the ICU to hospice in Dallas following a four-month stay and was stated to be in critical condition. Lester has spoken publicly on social media about his liver and kidney problems in the past.
In 2000, Ron Lester underwent gastric bypass surgery. As reported by Entertainment Weekly, he was his heaviest at 508 lbs. and he flatlined on the operating table. He lost over 300 lbs. including another 100 lbs. in the month and a half after surgery. Years after the surgery, Lester remembered the event in an interview with BodyBuilding.com and spoke about rebuilding his career after the incident.
The difference is that I am no longer the 'funny fat guy. I sold my 'niche' for my chance to live. ... I would never trade the life I have now with... the endless opportunities I have in store for me, with my old life.
Ron Lester's career began in 1997 with a role in Nickelodeon's Good Burger movie. He then went on to star in Varsity Blues as Billy Bob, the heavyset offensive lineman who served as the comedic relief in the film. His biggest moment in the film is when Billy Bob scored the game-winning touchdown in the District Championship by plowing through the opposing defense. The film mirrored real-life for Lester, who looked up to Jon Voight (who played his football coach in the movie) as a mentor. He remembered in an interview with Movieweb earlier this year that Voight was like a "father figure" to him and that when Voight would "chew him out" at him on camera, he'd really get upset and let "the emotion out."
Ron Lester would later go on to star in the WB show Popular as Michael "Sugar Daddy" Bernadino for two seasons. His other work includes appearances on TV shows such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Freaks and Geeks, and Cousin Skeeter. Lester went on to play a parody of his Varsity Blues character Billy Bob in Not Another Teen Movie, where he was known for frequently getting concussions during football games. After that role, he did not appear in another major studio film.
Most recently, Ron Lester was working on a coming of age racing movie entitled Racing Legacy, that he reportedly starred in, co-directed, and wrote. Ron Lester is survived by his fiancée, Jennifer Worland. Our thoughts are with his friends and family in this difficult time.