Former NFL running back Ronnie Hillman, who was part of two Super Bowl runs with the Denver Broncos, has died of cancer at the age of 31, his family announced in a social media post Thursday. The team confirmed his death in a statement.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved son, brother & father, Ronnie K Hillman Jr,” the Instagram post 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.”
A day prior, his family revealed Hillman was diagnosed in August with renal medullary carcinoma, a rare but highly aggressive form of kidney cancer that primarily affects young Black men with sickle cell trait. They said his treatment had not been successful and Hillman was placed under hospice care.
Hillman won the Super Bowl with the Broncos in 2016, and was part of another in 2014, which the team lost. The Broncos, former teammates and others have expressed their sympathies upon his death.
In a statement, the team said they were “deeply saddened by the untimely passing” of Hillman.
“A key contributor to the winningest four-year period in franchise history, Ronnie was part of two Super Bowl teams and led the Broncos in rushing during our Super Bowl 50 championship season. Soft-spoken with a warm smile and quiet intensity, Ronnie was drafted the Broncos in 2012 and few into a dynamic player and well-respected teammates,” the team said.
“Fly high my brother rest easy man going to miss you love you my brother we have amazing memories,” C.J. Anderson, who played with Hillman on the Broncos, wrote on the Instagram post announcing his death.
Juwan Thompson, who was part of the Super Bowl-winning team with Hillman, said he was “forever grateful to call you my brother. Fly high and watch over us! ❤️.”
HIllman, who grew up in Compton, California, became the first alumnus from Snoop Dogg’s youth football league to win a Super Bowl. The rap legend said “heaven gained an angel today.”
“Thank u for being an example to the youth in my league and around the world 🌹🌹🙏🏽🐐” Snoop Dogg wrote.
Hillman played with the Broncos, Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers from 2012-2016. He also signed with the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason in 2017, but was released. Over his career, he rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 12 touchdowns.