Beloved football coach with huge impact on community, dies from COVID-19 complications

Beloved football coach with huge impact on community, dies from COVID-19 complications

MILTON, Ga. — People in the city of Milton and beyond are mourning the death of a metro football coach who was known for his contributions both on and off the field.

In a post on the City of Milton’s Facebook page, it said coach Tim Lester died “unexpectedly earlier (Tuesday) morning due to complications of COVID-19.”

He was just 52.

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As a former NFL fullback and special teams standout, Lester spent his retirement from professional football coaching the game with the area’s youth.

He worked at the Fellowship Christian School, where he coached football. The school is also where his children attended classes.

But his contributions went far beyond the field at Fellowship Christian.

“Lester founded a non-profit organization called the Pigskin Academy to mentor, tutor, train and prepare at-risk athletes for success in all walks of life. He went into the ministry. He worked to feed those in need for Thanksgiving. He helped brighten Christmas for over 5,000 children living in public housing through the ‘Toys for Tots’ program. Closer to home, Tim was a dedicated family man to his children and wife Natalie. In other words, he made a difference,” the city wrote in their post.

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“Tim was an absolutely amazing man,” said Milton Parks and Recreation Manager Tom McKlveen. “He truly cared about positively impacting the kids on and off the field.”

As a member of the Milton Rotary, he was among the leaders of the Milton Steelers football program, where he helped push for “low-to-no costs for families and on-the-field in coaching young players.”

After that program ended, Lester became part of the advisory board of Developmental Football International and became the football coach for Milton High School before moving on to Fellowship Christian.

“I have known Tim for many years and always thought the world of him,” said Mayor Joe Lockwood. “He was sincere and passionate about helping people and making the world a better place, including here in Milton.”

Lester is known throughout the NFL, where he played for the Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He was selected in the 10th round of the NFL Draft in 1992 as a fullback for the Rams. After three years there, he moved on to Pittsburgh. Throughout his career, he became good friends with Jerome Bettis.

“In their years together, the two became a powerful duo – with Bettis, the primary running back, known as ‘The Bus’ and Lester as the ‘Bus Driver’ for leading the way as his fullback. Lester spent four years in Pittsburgh before capping his career in front of Emmitt Smith, an NFL Hall of Famer like Bettis, in 1999 for the Dallas Cowboys,” the City of Milton wrote.

In 1996 and 1997, Lester was named the NFL Unsung hero for “his extensive, earnest service to young people.”

“As we mourn the passing of this incredible man, we remember the massive impact he made on our community,” said Fellowship Christian’s Dr. Kathryn M. Teston in an email to that school’s community. “He was dedicated to impacting the lives of athletes and students, encouraging them to live fully for God’s glory alone.”

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