Brad Lesley, the former Major League Baseball player who became a film star in 1990s sports comedy movies like Space Jam and Little Big League, died of kidney failure at the age of 54, reported TMZ.

The former athlete, nicknamed "The Animal" while playing for the Cincinatti Reds and Milwaukee Brewers from 1982 to 1985, was known for his aggressive and flamboyant style. At 6 feet, 6 inches, he was an intimidating presence, though his theatrics on the field endeared him to fans.

He later joined the Japanese team the Hankyu Braves for two seasons, and cemented his status as a cult celebrity in that country by humiliating contestants on the comedy game show Takeshi's Castle as an exaggerated version of himself called Ajimaru "Animal" Resry.

His persona allowed him to segue into an acting career, appearing as himself or as a fictional baseball player in several films throughout the 1990s. His last role was on the TV show Son of the Beach in 2001.

"I can never repay baseball enough for the doors it's opened for me," Lesley told the Los Angeles Times in 1997. "I've been truly blessed. As much as I try to give back to the game, it's never enough."

Lesley's ex-wife Chiho Svimonoff confirmed his death to TMZ , explaining that he died on Saturday night after being a hospital in Marina Del Rey, California. The former athlete had been ailing from kidney difficulties, according to Svimonoff, and was on dialysis at a nursing home for the past seven months.

Kidney dialysis is typically a treatment for end-stage kidney failure. According to the National Kidney Foundation, dialysis is necessary when someone loses 85 to 90 percent of kidney function, when the organs can no longer adequately filter the body's circulating waste so it can be expelled in urine.

Dialysis takes over for the dysfunctional kidneys, removing excess fluid and other substances from the blood in order to maintain the body's chemical balance and maintain a safe blood pressure.

While some patients can recover from acute kidney failure and only need temporary dialysis, end-stage failure is irreversible. Such patients need dialysis in order to stay alive, unless they can somehow obtain a kidney transplant.

If their health is likely to continue to deteriorate, some patients choose to withdraw from dialysis instead of continuing towards a protracted death. According to Dr. Lesley Spry of the National Kidney Foundation, patients typically live an average of 10 days after deciding to stop dialysis.

Here's Brad Lesley as the "angry pitcher" in Little Big League: