Ronnie Hillman, a former running back for the Denver Broncos who played a key role in the team’s Super Bowl 50 victory, passed away on Wednesday, according to a statement posted by his family on Instagram.
He was 31.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved son, brother & father, Ronnie K Hillman Jr.,” the family said in the post.
“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.”
Earlier today, Hillman’s family announced on social media that he had been diagnosed with renal medullary cancer in August and had since been admitted to hospice care.
“As a family, we hope beyond hope, and we have faith that can move mountains,” the statement said in part. “We also understand that God’s will is not always ours; therefore, we as a family subject ourselves to the will of our Almighty God. We need your prayers, but we also need your understanding and respect for Ronnie and our family’s privacy at this time.”
According to a research published on the website of the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, “Renal medullary carcinoma (RMC) is an aggressive form of non–clear cell kidney cancer that typically affects young adults and is almost exclusively associated with sickle cell trait.”
“Typical RMC patients tend to be young black males (2:1 male to female predominance) with sickle cell trait who present with pain and hematuria and are found to have metastatic disease at diagnosis. Prognosis is extremely poor, with a mean survival of less than a year in most cases.”
In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Broncos picked Hillman in the third round after he had played college football for San Diego State. For the first four years of his career, he was a member of Denver’s roster, and in 2015, he was a key contributor to the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory.
In 2016, he concluded his professional football career with the San Diego Chargers and the Minnesota Vikings.
Sadly, Hillman’s passing follows that of Franco Harris, the legendary running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers and star of the movie “Immaculate Reception,” who passed away not long after Hillman. The Steelers have planned a number retirement ceremony for December 24 versus the Las Vegas Raiders in honor of Harris, who passed away in October at the age of 72.
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