The Karate Kid Star William Zabka Posts Heartfelt Tribute to Rob Garrison

The Karate Kid actor Rob Garrison died on Friday at the age of 59. Garrison played Tommy, a student at the Cobra Kai dojo, in the film. While working on the film, he became friends with co-star William Zabka, who played Cobra Kai student Johnny Lawrence, chief rival to protagonist Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). Following the news, Zabka posted a tribute to his friend to Instagram. "Yesterday the world lost a beautiful soul and an incredibly gifted actor, and I lost one of my dearest friends — the one and only, Rob Garrison,” Zabka writes. “Rob and I met when we were auditioning for 'Karate Kid.' We instantly connected and became friends while filming the movie. Our friendship grew stronger over the many years since then.”

“Rob was a true thespian — an ‘actors actor.’ Working with him was always natural and effortless,” Zabka continues. “He elevated every scene and moment inside of them. Outside of acting, he was one of the most selfless and wonderful human beings I’ve ever known and I will miss him immensely. Thank you to all of his fans for the tremendous outpouring of love & respect he’s being shown. I know it means a lot to his family and friends.”

Zabka included several photos of himself with Garrison in his Instagram post. They include shots from the set of Cobra Kai as well as other appearances together. You can click through the Instagram gallery below.

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Yesterday the world lost a beautiful soul and an incredibly gifted actor, and I lost one of my dearest friends — the one and only, Rob Garrison. Rob and I met when we were auditioning for “Karate Kid.” We instantly connected and became friends while filming the movie. Our friendship grew stronger over the many years since then. Rob was a true thespian — an “actors actor.” Working with him was always natural and effortless. He elevated every scene and moment inside of them. Outside of acting, he was one of the most selfless and wonderful human beings I’ve ever known and I will miss him immensely. Thank you to all of his fans for the tremendous outpouring of love & respect he’s being shown. I know it means a lot to his family and friends.

A post shared by William Zabka (@william_zabka) on

Garrison reunited with Zabka and his fellow Cobra Kai student actors in a special episode of the Youtube streaming television series Cobra Kai, a sequel to The Karate Kid. The series stars Zabka and Macchio as Lawrence and LaRusso. The episode “Take a Right” brought back Tommy and the other Cobra Kai students from the original film.

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Garrison died in a West Virginia hospital on Friday morning according to his sister in law. He had been hospitalized with kidney and liver problems for over a month. On Friday his organs shut down. Garrison is survived by his brother Patrick and Patrick's wife Linda.

Garrison and Zabka both reprised their roles from The Karate Kid in the film’s 1986 sequel, The Karate Kid Part II. Garrison’s other film credits include roles in Starship Invasion in 1977, Brubaker in 1980, and Iron Eagle in 1986. He also had several television guest-starring roles, including appearances in St. Elsewhere, Columbo, MacGyver, Tour of Duty, Coach, and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.

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