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Police Academy Star, NFL Great Bubba Smith Dies

Bubba Smith, the former NFL star who made a successful jump to acting with a series of memorable Miller Lite ads and a key role in the hilarious Police Academy movies, has died. He was 66.

Authorities believe Smith succumbed to natural causes Wednesday at his Los Angeles-area home.

Ed Winter, assistant chief investigator for the L.A. County Coroner's Office, tells E! News that an investigator is en route to the former footballer's Baldwin Hills residence so the exact cause of death won't be know for a while.

Born Charles Aaron Smith, the 6-foot-7 football star plied his trade at Michigan State (where he was cheered on to the chants of "Kill, Bubba, Kill") before become a Pro Bowler in the NFL. He earned a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Colts in 1970, followed by stints with the Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers. After retiring in 1976, he decided to pursue a career in the entertainment industry and began appearing in small roles in such shows as Good Times, Charlie's Angels and Taxi.

His popularity took off after popping up in a series of Miller Lite commercials with fellow former NFL greats Dick Butkus and John Madden in the early '80s. (He and Butkus would later reteam for the 1984 TV spinoff of the film Blue Thunder, which also costarred Dana Carvey.)

Smith's greatest mark on the big screen came playing Moses Hightower, the gentle giant of a cadet, who along with Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall and the rest of the bumbling recruits busted baddies in 1984's classic comedy, Police Academy. The film was such a hit, he reprised the part in five more sequels and a short-lived TV series.

More recent credits include Married...With Children, Family Matters, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and last year's indie horror flick Blood River.

Rest in peace.

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