By Kambui Moore
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
Former Spartan football player Chris “Bubba” Smith was found dead in his Los Angeles home Wednesday August 3, 2012. He was 66 years old. Casting a 6-foot-7 shadow, Smith will be remembered for hard work and perseverance—a guiding light for future Spartan athletes.
Police reports say that he died of natural causes.
Born in Orange, Texas, February 28, 1945, Chris Smith was very talented. Born to a football-coaching father, Smith went on to become one of the best defensive players the State has ever seen. He had always dreamed of playing for The University of Texas. Even though Head Coach Darrell Royal had offered him one, due to racial divides, he was prohibited from doing so.
A determined and hopeful guy, Smith went on to play for Michigan State University. Receiving All-American honors in 65’ and 66’, it seems the setback motivated Smith to become a better player. Battling to chants of “Kill, Bubba, Kill”, Smith finished his senior season undefeated with one tie against rival Notre Dame.
Smith went on to pursue a professional career in the NFL. He was the first overall pick in the 1967 draft to the now Indianapolis Colts. Bubba won his only Super Bowl in 1970 season but he says that he never did wear it. “It was a sloppy game.”
After nine seasons, Smith retired from the game of football. Showing his versatility, Smith found a place back on camera. Smith was most remembered for his role in the movie “Police Academy” as Moses Hightower. He also appeared in roles on shows like “Married with Children” and even worked alongside actors/actresses like Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson.
In 2006, a delighted Smith watched his jersey retire back at home…Spartan Stadium. He even recieved the old chant from his playing days. He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 88’.
After all the success, his peers remember him as a humble guy. Smith never wanted the spotlight. Its the small things that count. After all the ups and downs…why a Spartan never dies.