Bubba Smith’s birth name was Charles Aaron Smith. He started out as an American football player in the NFL in 1967, playing professionally for the Baltimore Colts, Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers.
His athletics career ended in 1976, which is when he became an actor. But it was in 1984 when he gained international fame for his part in the “Police Academy” franchise.
Smith played Moses Hightower, a gentle giant of a man who was a florist before joining the force. He was one of the main characters in the “Police Academy” series and a firm favorite with fans. He joined other unlikely misfits such as the likeable rogue Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), gun-obsessed Tackleberry (David Graf) and sexy trainee Thompson (a young Kim Cattrall) trying to earn their police badges with the guidance of accident-prone Academy chief, Commandant Eric Lassard (George Gaynes).
Bubba Smith also played the role for six of the seven hit movies the franchise spawned. Only the last, “Police Academy: Mission to Moscow,” was filmed without him.
Smith really was a giant of a guy at 6 feet 7. He also appeared in several TV shows, including “Half Nelson” and several lesser movies. But for most of us, he will be best remembered as Moses Hightower.
Bubba Smith’s body was discovered at his home by a caretaker. There will be a coroner’s investigation, but he is believed to have died of natural causes. Police are not treating the death as suspicious.