Tim Lester, the eight-year NFL veteran who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Rams, and Dallas Cowboys, died unexpectedly on Tuesday of complications from COVID-19. He was 52.
The city of Milton, Georgia, Lester’s adopted hometown, announced his death on its Facebook page on Wednesday.
“I have known Tim for many years and always thought the world of him,” said Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood. “He was sincere and passionate about helping people and making the world a better place, including here in Milton.”
Lester grew up in Miami as one of seven children, and became one of the first people in his family to attend college when he went to Eastern Kentucky University on a football scholarship. He played as a running back, but converted to fullback after he was drafted by the Rams in 1992.
He spent three seasons with the Rams, which is where he met Jerome Bettis. The two teamed up on the Steelers, which is how Lester got his nickname “The Bus Driver” — by blocking for Bettis, known as “The Bus.”
Lester retired from the NFL after spending the 1999 season with the Cowboys. He settled down in Milton, where he coached football at Milton High School and Fellowship Christian School. He was heavily involved in community activities, and the city’s Facebook post recalled the numerous ways he contributed to the community.
Lester founded a non-profit organization called the Pigskin Academy to mentor, tutor, train and prepare at-risk athletes for success in all walks of life. He went into the ministry. He worked to feed those in need for Thanksgiving. He helped brighten Christmas for over 5,000 children living in public housing through the “Toys for Tots” program. Closer to home, Tim was a dedicated family man to his children and wife Natalie.
“Tim was an absolutely amazing man,” said Milton Parks and Recreation Manager Tom McKlveen via Facebook. “He truly cared about positively impacting the kids on and off the field.”
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