Just one day after Alex Karras was reportedly near death, the former Detroit Lion defensive tackle and actor died on Wednesday.
His family's spokesperson revealed that the 77-year-old had experienced kidney failure, heart disease, dementia and stomach cancer. Karras died in Los Angeles surrounded by his wife and kids.
"Alex was known to family and friends as a gentle, loving, generous man who loved gardening and preparing Greek and Italian feasts," the Karras family wrote in a statement, according to CNN.
The athlete-turned-actor was an All-American at the University of Iowa and became a first-round draft pick by the Lions in 1958 before he became part of "Fearsome Foursome" on the team.
Despite his success in the NFL, his family said, "Karras had always dreamed of being an actor."
In addition to several television series appearances, Karras appeared in films such as "Blazing Saddles," "Porky's," and "Victor Victoria." He went on to join the cast of the 1980s television series "Webster" as George Papadapolis alongside actor Emmanuel Lewis.
It was announced on Tuesday that the star's condition was worsening. Craig Mitnick, Karras' attorney in the lawsuit against the NFL, told the Associated Press of his client's decline.
"He may be dying of kidney failure because how his body is catching up to the deterioration of his mind," said the attorney. Mitnick represented Karras who was part of a large group of former players suing the NFL for head trauma.
On Twitter, hundreds of tributes to Karras have surfaced after the news of his death spread on Wednesday.
NFL legend Barry Sanders posted, "I'd like to send my condolences to the family and friends of Alex Karras. May the great Lion rest in peace."
"RIP Alex Karras," wrote morning talk show host and athlete Michael Strahan. "Football and acting legend!"
"RIP big guy- u were unique & a GENTLE GIANT #ALEXKARRAS," wrote Dick.
Karras leaves behind his wife and six children.