February 1, 2023

Former Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman died after developing a rare form of kidney cancer

Former Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman died after developing a rare form of kidney cancer (Picture: Getty/AP)

A former Super Bowl champion running back passed away Wednesday after developing a rare form of kidney cancer.

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.

FILE - San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman celebrates his 27-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Cal Poly, Saturday, September 3, 2011, in San Diego.  Hillman, who was part of the Denver Broncos team that won Super Bowl 50 after a standout career at San Diego State, has passed away, his family said in a statement.  He was 31. Hillman's family posted on his Instagram account on Wednesday, December 21, 2022 that he was diagnosed in August with a rare form of kidney cancer called renal medullary carcinoma and that he was under hospice care.  The family wrote hours later that he died surrounded by family and close friends.  (AP Photo/Chris Park)

Ronnie Hillman began his career playing for the San Diego State Aztecs (Photo: AP)
Ronnie Hillman (23) rushes in for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams in 2016 (Photo: Denver Post via Getty Images)

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.

Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman speaks to reporters ahead of Super Bowl 50 (Photo: AP)

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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