Former NFL player Ronnie Hillman, 31, died after being admitted to hospice, his family announced early Thursday morning.
“Ronnie passed peacefully and peacefully today in the company of his family and close friends,” Hillman’s family said. “We as a family appreciate the prayers and kind words that have already been said. We ask that you give us this time to process our feelings as we prepare to lay our precious RJ to rest.”
Hillman began his career as a college football player at San Diego State University. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, where he played four seasons.
In a statement released Thursday, the Broncos called Hillman “a dynamic player and respected teammate.”
“Ronnie was instrumental in the most successful four-year run in franchise history. He was on two Super Bowl teams and led the Broncos through our Super Bowl 50 championship season,” the organization said.
Hillman also played for the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys before ending his NFL career in 2017.
In August, Hillman was diagnosed with renal medullary carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of kidney cancer. He underwent treatment after his diagnosis, but to no avail. Earlier this week, Hillman was admitted to hospice.
Hillman’s former teammates and friends praised the retiring star on social media. His supporters included rapper Snoop Dogg, a resident of Hillman’s hometown of Long Beach, California.
“Heaven gained an angel today,” the artist said in an Instagram post.
As a teenager, Hillman played in a youth soccer league started by Snoop Dogg and served as an example to the children of Long Beach, according to the rapper.
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