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Ex-Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman dead at 31

Hillman was beset with a rare form of cancer that mostly affects African Americans
Ex-Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman dead at 31
Ronnie Hillman (Image source: YouTube/9News)

Ronnie Hillman, the talented running back who helped the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 50, has died after a long battle with a rare form of cancer. He was 31.

The family confirmed Hillman’s death on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2022, according to NBC affiliate 9News.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved son, brother and father, Ronnie K. Hillman Jr.,” the family said in a statement. “Ronnie quietly and peacefully transitioned today in the company of his family and close friends.”

Hillman was born and raised in Long Beach, California, not far from Los Angeles, and shined at San Diego State before being drafted by the Broncos in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Hillman had been diagnosed in August 2022 with renal medullary carcinoma. This is a rare form of cancer that affects young African Americans who have the sickle cell trait. He had been recently placed in hospice care due to his degenerative condition and incurable medical malady. 

Former Denver teammates Derek Wolfe and Orlando Franklin had pleaded for public prayers earlier this week. 

“We as the family, appreciate the prayers and kind words that have already been expressed,” Hillman’s family said in a statement Wednesday night. “We ask that you give us time to process our feelings as we prepare to lay our precious RJ to rest.”

The pinnacle of Hillman’s career was his early years with the Broncos before moving on to the Vikings, Chargers and Cowboys. In 2015, Hillman, along with Peyton Manning, Von Miller and that vaunted Denver defense, stifled Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to take home the Vince Lombardi trophy after winning the Super Bowl. 

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