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Bubba Smith

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Bubba Smith in 2009
No. 78, 77
Position: Defensive End
Personal information
Date of birth: (1945-02-28)February 28, 1945
Place of birth: Orange, Texas, U.S.
Date of death: August 3, 2011(2011-08-03) (aged 66)
Place of death: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Height: Script error: No such module "convert".
Weight: Script error: No such module "convert".
Career information
High school: Charlton-Pollard High School
Beaumont, Texas
College: Michigan State
NFL draft: 1967 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career Template:If empty statistics
Games played: 111
Games started: 25
Fumble recoveries: 4
Stats at
Stats at

Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith (February 28, 1945 – August 3, 2011) was an American professional football player who became an actor after his retirement from the sport. He first came into prominence at Michigan State University, where he twice earned All-American honors as a defensive end on the Spartans football team. He had a major role in a 10–10 tie with Notre Dame in 1966 that was billed as a "The Game of the Century." He was one of only three players to have his jersey number retired by the program. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.[1]

He played nine years in the National Football League (NFL) with the Baltimore Colts (19671971), Oakland Raiders (19731974) and Houston Oilers (19751976). The first selection of the 1967 NFL Draft, he was the Colts' starting left defensive end for five seasons who played in Super Bowls III and V, the latter with the winning side. He was named to two Pro Bowls and was a First-Team All-Pro in 1971.[2] Despite being 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 meters) tall and weighing 265 pounds (120.20 kilograms),[3] he had tremendous speed and quickness. This combination usually caused him to draw two blockers.[2]

During his acting career, he mainly specialized in comedic roles in films, television advertisements and programs. For about a decade following his retirement from football, he appeared in various commercials for Miller Lite. His best-known role was as Moses Hightower in the first six Police Academy movies.[4]

Early life

Smith was born on February 28, 1945 in Orange, Texas to Willie Ray Smith Sr and Georgia Oreatha Curl Smith, and was raised in nearby Beaumont. His father Willie Ray Smith Sr., was a football coach who accumulated 235 victories in a career spent at three high schools in the Beaumont area. It was at Charlton-Pollard High School in Beaumont where the son got to play for the father.[2] The younger Smith developed into one of the state's best-ever high school football players.[5]

Football career


Smith originally had hopes of playing college football at the University of Texas. Even though Longhorns head coach Darrell Royal was willing to offer him an athletic scholarship, he was prohibited from doing so because of the prevalent racial segregation throughout the Southern United States. At the time, Texas was a member of the Southwest Conference (SWC), which finally integrated in 1967. The university's football program did not do likewise until three years later in 1970. The situation motivated Smith to become a much better player.[5]

Smith played college football at Michigan State University. He was awarded with All-America honors in 1965 and 1966. Smith was a popular athlete at Michigan State, with the popular fan chant of "Kill, Bubba, Kill."

His final game at Michigan State was a 10–10 tie with Notre Dame at Spartan Stadium on November 19, 1966.[6] It was hyped as "The Game of the Century" because both teams were undefeated, untied and ranked atop the national polls entering the contest (Notre Dame was #1 at 8–0–0, Michigan State #2 at 9–0–0).[7] Early in the first quarter, Smith tackled Fighting Irish starting quarterback Terry Hanratty, who suffered a separated left shoulder on the play. Hanratty was replaced for the remainder of the match by Coley O'Brien. Smith, who admitted that Hanratty's injury actually backfired on the Spartans, stated, "That didn't help us any. It just let them put in that O'Brien who's slippery and faster and gave us more trouble. The other guy just sits there and waits, and that's what we wanted."[8] Michigan State finished second behind Notre Dame in the voting for the National Championship.[7]

In 1988, Smith was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Michigan State retired his number 95 jersey on September 23, 2006, prior to the Spartans' home game against Notre Dame, amid repeated cheers of his old slogan from the student section. This game also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the "Game of the Century."


Smith spent nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive end. He was the first overall selection in the 1967 NFL draft, chosen by the Baltimore Colts. The Colts won Super Bowl V at the end of the 1970 season, earning Smith his only Super Bowl ring. However, in interviews, Smith stated that he would never wear the ring, out of a sense of disappointment that he and his teammates were unable to win Super Bowl III.[9] He was injured in the 1972 preseason when he ran into a solid steel pole the NFL was using at the time to mark yardage and missed the season. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders after the 1972 season, and finished his career with the Houston Oilers. He was selected All-Pro one year, All-Conference two years, and went to two Pro Bowls.

Acting career

After leaving professional football, Smith began his acting career in small movie and television roles in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is perhaps best known for his role as Moses Hightower in the Police Academy movie series, a role he reprised in all but one of the Police Academy sequels. Bubba appeared in the 1982 TV film Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story. He was Arnold the driver in the 1983 movie Stroker Ace that cast stars such as Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Jim Nabors, and Loni Anderson. He was a supporting character in the 1981–82 flop Open All Night. He appeared in the episode "All Night Security Dude" of the hit television series Married... with Children as the character "Spare Tire" Dixon. He was the longtime spokesman of Baltimore-area law firm Cohen, Snyder, Eisenberg & Katzenberg. Smith starred in the short-lived television series Blue Thunder, partnering with Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive star Dick Butkus, with whom he frequently costarred in advertisements for Miller Lite beer, as well as their joint cameo in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). Smith also appeared in Tales of the Gold Monkey, in the episode called "God Save the Queen", along with fellow actor James Avery. He appeared on Good Times as Claude, a bodyguard/thug working for Marion "Sweet Daddy" Williams. He also appeared on an episode of The Odd Couple; when asked by Oscar Madison what his most embarrassing moment was, he replied, "When my mother named me 'Bubba'". Smith appeared in a 1982 episode of Taxi (Season 4 Episode 19) where Smith's character played a football player trying to get back into the NFL after being cut. He inspired Tony, played by Tony Danza, to train hard enough to earn his license back as a boxer. He also appeared on Macgyver (Season 7, Episode 10). Bubba also played a character named "Bones" in the October 22, 1993 episode of Family Matters where he played an enforcer to get his boss's money from Eddie Winslow. At the end he teams up with Steve Urkel to play the accordion.


Year Title Role
2012 DaZe: Vol. Too (sic) - NonSeNse Bubba
2010 Blood River Harold
2008 Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football Himself
2006 Full Clip Sleepy
2004 The Coach Hulk Referee
2001 Down 'n Dirty Det. Jerry Cale
1995 Drifting School Unknown
1994 The Silence of the Hams Olaf
1993 Fist of Honor Detective Johnson
The Naked Truth The Cop
1992 My Samurai Reverend George
1990 Gremlins 2: The New Batch Himself
1989 Stuck with Each Other Augie
Police Academy 6: City Under Siege Lt. Moses Hightower
1988 Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach Sgt. Moses Hightower
1987 The Wild Pair Benny Avalon
Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol Sgt. Moses Hightower
1986 Police Academy 3: Back in Training Sgt. Moses Hightower
Black Moon Rising Johnson
1985 Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment Officer Moses Hightower
1984 Police Academy Moses Hightower
1983 Stroker Ace Arnold

Personal life

Smith's younger brother Tody Smith played for the University of Southern California and for the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills.


Smith was found dead in his Los Angeles home by his caretaker on August 3, 2011. He died from acute drug intoxication and heart disease. Phentermine, a weight-loss drug, was found in his system. His heart weighed more than twice that of an average human heart. He was 66 years old.[10][11][12]


  1. "Former Two-Time All-American Bubba Smith Passes Away At Age 66". Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Local football legend Bubba Smith dies at 66". Beaumont Enterprise. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  3. "Bubba Smith". Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  4. "Bubba Smith obituary: NFL player turned beer pitchman dies at 66". Los Angeles Times. 4 August 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Justice: Bubba Smith made his mark in unique way". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  6. 2011 Michigan State University Football Media Guide.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "The Game of the Century"; #1 Notre Dame 10, #2 Michigan State 10; November 19, 1966.
  8. "Bleacher Report". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  9. "America's Game". NFL Films. Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  10. "Bubba Smith, NFL star and 'Police Academy' actor, found dead at home", Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2011, accessed August 3, 2011.
  11. "Bubba Smith Dead — 'Police Academy' Star Dies at 66". 3 August 2011. Retrieved August 3, 2011. 
  12. "Bubba Smith dies of drug intoxication, coroner says". 2 November 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2011. 

External links

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