He had been returned home from a California hospital after experiencing kidney failure earlier this week. Karras had lived through a long struggle with kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and stomach cancer, a family spokesperson says. He was 77.
“Alex was known to family and friends as a gentle, loving, generous man who loved gardening and preparing Greek and Italian feasts,” his family said in a written statement, via CNN.
Lions president Tom Lewand released a statement after Karras was released from the hospital earlier this week, saying, “The entire Detroit Lions family is deeply saddened to learn of the news regarding the condition of one of our all-time greats, Alex Karras. Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex.”
Karras was one of the best defensive tackles in the history of the National Football League. He went on to have a career as an actor, starring in “Blazing Saddles” and the television series “Webster.”
Karras is survived by his wife, Susan Clark, and children: George, Alex Jr., Katie and Peter.