MILTON, Ga. — Former NFL fullback Tim Lester, founder of the Milton Steelers youth football program, died Tuesday, Jan. 12, due to complications related to COVID-19 at the age of 52, Fellowship Christian School reported.
In addition to finding New Found Life Youth Football, better known as the Milton Steelers, Lester also served as an assistant coach for Milton High School and Fellowship Christian School.
The Steelers organization was the youth football provider in Milton for several years. Lester led a charge to waive registration fees, allowing families to join the program free of charge.
Lester’s influence on the North Fulton community was made apparent on social media soon after his death was announced.
“While the Paladin Nation and the world lost a great warrior for God today…Heaven gained a Saint,” tweeted Fellowship Athletic Director David Lowery.
Milton Athletic Director Gary Sylvestri said Lester was “an amazing man of God, husband, father, friend and coach.
“His legacy will live on forever!” Sylvestri tweeted.
Milton High School Football’s account tweeted Lester was “an asset to our community [and] he will be greatly missed.”
Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood also made a statement.
“I have known Tim for many years and always thought the world of him,” Lockwood said. “He was sincere and passionate about helping people and making the world a better place, including here in Milton.”
Lester grew up in Florida and attended Eastern Kentucky University. He played for the Colonels football program from 1988-91 and was voted all-conference several years as a fullback/halfback. He rushed for 3,640 yards with EKU with 37 touchdowns and was an integral part in the Colonels winning three conference titles during his time with the program. He was voted into the EKU Hall of Fame in 2011.
Lester was drafted in the 10th round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams and spent three years with the franchise before playing with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1995-98. He closed out his professional career in 1999 with the Dallas Cowboys.
Lester is perhaps best known for being the “Bus Driver,” the prominent lead blocker for “The Bus” Jerome Bettis both with L.A. and Pittsburgh.
Following his stint in the NFL, Lester founded Pigskin Academy, a non-profit mentoring program for at-risk athletes, and later created the Milton Steelers while leading philanthropic efforts in the community.