NFL star turned actor dies

LOS ANGELES, CA – Carl Weathers, the former professional American footballer turned actor, known for his charismatic role as Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” series, passed away on Thursday, as confirmed by his manager on Friday. The cause of his death remains undisclosed. Weathers was 76.

Weathers, while recognized for various roles, including his recent portrayal in the “Star Wars” spinoff series “The Mandalorian” and the 1987 sci-fi horror movie “Predator,” was most celebrated for his role as Apollo Creed. His character initially emerged as a competitor and later became an ally to Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa in the successful films of the 70s and 80s.

The character of Apollo Creed not only boosted Weathers’ career but also played a pivotal role in launching Stallone’s career. Stallone, then an unknown in Hollywood, wrote and starred in the 1976 film that swept the 1977 Oscars, winning best picture and best actor for Stallone.

In a heartfelt video tribute, Stallone expressed his grief, stating, “When he walked into that room, and I saw him for the first time, I saw greatness. I never could have accomplished what we did with Rocky without him.”

Weathers’ portrayal of Creed, inspired by Muhammad Ali, was a beacon of intelligence and charm. It offered audiences a powerful and positive Black character during a time when mainstream cinema was beginning to challenge stereotypes.

Apart from showcasing his physical prowess in films like “Action Jackson,” Weathers also demonstrated his comedic skills, starring opposite Adam Sandler in “Happy Gilmore” and parodying himself in the TV series “Arrested Development.”

Before his acting career, Weathers had a brief stint with the Oakland Raiders in the National Football League. He retired from sports to pursue acting, landing minor roles until he was cast as Creed, a role initially offered to boxer Ken Norton.

Weathers’ role in “Predator” alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and his part in “The Mandalorian” kept him in the public eye. He is survived by his two children, Jason and Matthew. His manager’s statement described him as a “beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner, and friend.”