Tommy Lister Had Recovered from COVID-19, But Feared He Would Test Positive Again Before His Death

Actor Tommy “Tiny” Lister tested positive for COVID-19 nearly four months before his death.

Lister, who died at the age of 62 on Thursday after having exhibited "COVID symptoms" for a week, was diagnosed with the virus earlier this year, his manager Cindy Cowan tells PEOPLE.

“He got a positive result back about four months ago and obviously recovered from that,” she says.

While at the time he suffered from difficulty breathing and fatigue, recently the actor had been doing “better than ever.”

“He kind of was one of those people that used the lockdown to work out and get in the best shape ever,” Cowan says. “He actually looked the best he’s ever looked and I’ve never seen him more excited about what was coming next.”

However, a week before his death, Lister began “to feel not well again.”

“He thought maybe his diabetes was starting to kick up because he just wasn’t feeling right,” Cowan says. “He said, ‘I feel like I’m getting COVID again.’ ”

After the weekend went by and Lister was still “having a hard time breathing,” his manager told him that he needed to get tested. “I actually think he was really afraid to get tested again,” she adds, noting that she planned on taking him to the doctor on Thursday, "and then obviously Thursday never happened.”

“It’s remarkable and truly heartbreaking," she says. "All of us are kicking ourselves that we didn’t force him [to get tested] earlier.”

Referencing an interview Lister did just days before his death, Cowan notes that the actor was hopeful about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“He wanted to be one of the first ones to get the vaccine because he wanted to be able to get his life back to normal and be able to spend Christmas with his daughter. He was looking forward to that and he thought he’d be one of the first in line because he was in his 60s and had a pre-existing condition,” she says. “It’s so sad that he said that six days prior to passing.”

“He was an amazing man,” she adds. “He will definitely be missed.”

TMZ was first to report the news.

Lister was found unresponsive at his apartment in California on Thursday and was pronounced dead at the scene, TMZ previously reported.

The actor kicked off his film career in the 1980s, appearing in movies such as Runaway Train and Beverly Hills Cop II. He later broke out as a film actor, playing the part of Deebo in the 1995 film Friday. He reprised the role for its 2000 sequel, Next Friday.


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