Ronnie Hillman, Former Denver Broncos Running Back, Dies At 31

The Super Bowl 50 winner lost his battle with a rare form of cancer.

Ronnie Hillman, an NFL running back with the Denver Broncos team that won Super Bowl 50, died from cancer Wednesday (Dec. 21), his family announced on Instagram. He was 31.

The message read, “Ronnie quietly and peacefully transitioned today in the company of his family and close friends. We as the family, appreciate the prayers and kind words that have already been expressed. We ask that you would give us time to process our feelings as we prepare to lay our precious RJ to rest.”

In a separate post, the family said he was diagnosed with renal medullary carcinoma (RMC), a rare form of kidney cancer and was under hospice care.

RMC is an aggressive form of cancer that affects primarily young Black men with sickle cell trait, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The Broncos paid tribute on social media to Hillman, who the team drafted in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft.

“A bright soul gone far too soon,” the team tweeted. “We extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the Hillman family during this difficult time.”

Hillman was Denver’s leading rusher with 863 yards in the 2015 regular season and helped the team defeat Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50, the Associated Press reports.

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In his 56-game career, Hillman ran for 1,976 yards and 12 touchdowns. In addition to Denver, he also played for the Minnesota Vikings and the San Diego Chargers.

Hillman was a standout college running back at San Diego State, where he rushed for 3,243 yards and 36 TDs in two seasons.

"Our deepest condolences go out to Ronnie's family. Although I only got to coach him one season, I'll remember him as a great teammate and hard worker. Ronnie always came to practice with a smile on this face and his passion for the game was contagious. He'll always be an Aztec for Life," San Diego State coach Brady Hoke said in a statement.

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