BySam Plank, writer at
"You have to be what you are. Whatever you are, you gotta be it." -Johnny Cash. Tweet a tweeter at my twitty twitter, @tw1tterintw1t
Sam Plank

It's a strange feeling you get, when you hear about a celebrity dying. Whether it was expected because of old age, or a shock because of drugs or a car accident, it always takes your breath away. Robin Williams, Leonard Nimoy, Paul Walker, Heath Ledger...losing them was HUGE. But those are the big names.

When a lesser known actor or actress dies, especially when that death is overshadowed by the recent death of an actor who's more well known, it almost makes you feel bad that you missed hearing of their death.

One the best examples I can think of in recent history is Brad Renfro. When he died in 2008, just seven days before Heath Ledger, the news of the the star of The Cure (an absolute life-changer if you watched it as a kid or a teenager) hardly even had time to travel around before Heath passed.

A shining star among many

The most recent celebrity death overshadowed by another is none other than Ron Lester, Billy Bob from Varsity Blues.

Ron, the big, lovable football player from quite possibly the best high school football movie ever, died at age 45 on Friday, June 17, after a four month long battle with liver and kidney problems.

Just two days later, Anton Yelchin (Chekov from the rebooted Star Trek movies) was found dead at his home, the cause being a freak car accident in his own driveway.

Anton was by far the more well-known name and face of the two, but anyone who enjoyed Friday night football, underage drinking, and anything else associated with going to a rural high school LOVED Varsity Blues. From its whipped cream bikini, to the horrible pep rally speeches from the star quarterback, it had it all.

And the scene stealing star of the show? Ron Lester as Billy Bob, the crying...

touchdown making...

syrup chugging...

pig loving...

...mountain of a man!

He could laugh at himself, too

Just two short years after Varsity Blues, Not Another Teen Movie came out, and pretty much ruined any possibility of anyone ever taking VB seriously again. But did that stop Ron from having some fun?

Hell, no!

He played the character, Reggie Ray, in the spoof - a funnier version of his already hilarious original character, Billy Bob.

Concussions aren't normally a funny thing, but Not Another Teen Movie did its best to make them funny in this scene. Warning: NSFW thanks to some bad language and brief nudity!

An inspiration off-screen

Ron & his fiance, credit
Ron & his fiance, credit

Not only was he able to spoof the character that made him famous, but he also knew that the very thing that was keeping him famous, being that 'funny fat guy,' was killing him at the same time.

In a 2012 interview with, Ron told of how he went from his heaviest, 508 pounds, down 349 pounds to an amazing 159 pounds. Gastric bypass surgery saved his life, taking the strain off his heart and the rest of his body.

He even revealed that at one point during his surgery, he lost his pulse and flat-lined.

He struggled with depression throughout his life, understandably, and even attempted suicide once. The bullet turned out to be a dud, proving that he had more work to do, and more people to inspire.

Plans for the future

The demand for him to play the “fat guy” roles, funny or serious, in films and TV series was gone, but the price he paid was worth it, and he knew this. It was said that his surgery may have saved his life, but it ended his career. That didn't stop him from trying, however. He was currently filming Bomb City with Glenn Morshower (Aaron Pierce from 24).

Tributes from his friends

Ron's friends and costars lit Twitter up after recieving news of his passing.

From James Van Der Beek, 'Mox' from Varsity Blues:

Leslie Bibb, his costar in Popular:

Ron sounds like he truly was one of the sweetest, kindest, huggiest guys on the planet.

RIP, Billy Bob.

Let's not finish this on a sad note; instead, let's do it like Ron would have wanted us to, and relive Billy Bob's big touchdown scene-


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