Former Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman, who helped the team win Super Bowl 50, died of a rare type of cancer, his family said in a statement on Instagram Wednesday.
He was 31 years old.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our beloved son, brother and father, Ronnie K Hillman Jr.,” the family said in a statement.
“Ronnie made his transition quietly and peacefully today, accompanied by his family and close friends. As a family, we appreciate the prayers and kind words that have already been said. We ask that you give us time to process our feelings as we prepare to put our precious RJ to rest.”
Earlier in the day, Hillman’s family shared an update informing followers that Hillman was taken to a hospice, while also announcing that he had been diagnosed with renal medullary cancer in August.
“As a family, we hope hopeless and we believe that mountains can be moved,” the statement says in part. “We also understand that God’s will is not always ours. That is why we submit as a family 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 during this time.”
“Renal medullary cancer (RMC) is an aggressive form of unexplained cell kidney cancer that typically affects young adults and is almost exclusively associated with sickle cell characteristics,” says a report published on the National Library of Medicine website at the National Institutes of Health.
“Typical RMC patients are usually young black men (2:1 male to female prevalence) with sickle cell characteristics who suffer from pain and hematuria and are diagnosed with a metastatic disease. The prognosis is extremely poor; in most cases, the average survival rate is less than one year.”
Hillman was selected by the Broncos in the third round from San Diego State University in the 2012 NFL Draft. He played the first four seasons of his career with Denver and helped the team win the Super Bowl in the 2015 season.
He ended his NFL career in 2016 and played for the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers.