Former Broncos RB Hillman dies of cancer at 31

  • Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
  • Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
  • Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Board
    of Selectors since 1999

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Former Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman, who played on two Super Bowl teams, including the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 winner, died after a bout with cancer, his family said Thursday. He was 31.

Former teammates such as Derek Wolfe and Orlando Franklin had expressed how dire Hillman’s health was in recent days, saying Hillman had been moved into hospice care. Franklin took to social media to ask “please pray for Ronnie Hillman … this ain’t fair, please god, please.”

Wolfe said that Hillman had liver cancer and contracted pneumonia as well.

Hillman was a third-round pick by the Broncos in the 2012 NFL draft, one of the youngest players selected in recent drafts. He was just 20 years old when the Broncos chose him and didn’t turn 21 until September of his rookie year.

He was one of two 20-year-olds the Broncos selected in that draft class; quarterback Brock Osweiler was the other.

Hillman finished his two seasons at San Diego State with back-to-back 1,500-yard rushing seasons — 1,532 yards as a freshman, 1,711 yards as a sophomore — with 17 and 19 rushing touchdowns, respectively. He is fifth on the school’s all-time rushing list.

Hillman joined the Broncos in the team’s first draft class after it had signed Peyton Manning. He rushed for 218 yards in limited duty in 2013 when the Broncos set the league’s single-season scoring record with 606 points and two years later led the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 team in rushing (863 yards) and touchdowns, with seven, during the regular season.

Hillman also had a career-best 24 receptions that season.

He played five games for the Minnesota Vikings and three games for the Chargers in 2016, his final season in which he appeared in any regular-season games.

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