Super Bowl champ Ronnie Hillman dead at 31 after cancer battle

Ronnie Hillman, a Super Bowl champion running back who played with the Denver Broncos, has died, his family said in a social media post on Thursday. He was 31.

Hillman’s family said the former NFL player was battling renal medullary carcinoma, a “rare but highly aggressive neoplasm form of cancer that primarily affects young African Americans with sickle cell trait,” back in August. He was placed in hospice care earlier this week.

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Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman takes a handoff from Peyton Manning in the first quarter of a preseason football game against the Houston Texans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 in Denver.

Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman takes a handoff from Peyton Manning in the first quarter of a preseason football game against the Houston Texans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 in Denver.
(Steve Nehf/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved son, brother & father, Ronnie K Hillman Jr.,” the running back’s family said on his Instagram. “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.”

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Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman, #23, during the Super Bowl 50 Denver Broncos press conference held at the Santa Clara Marriott in Santa Clara, California.

Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman, #23, during the Super Bowl 50 Denver Broncos press conference held at the Santa Clara Marriott in Santa Clara, California.
(Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Hillman was the Broncos’ leading rusher in 2015, the same season they won the Super Bowl — he started 10 out of 16 games and ran for 863 yards on 207 carries, seven of them touchdowns, mostly splitting touches with C.J. Anderson.

Hillman was a third-round pick out of San Diego State in 2012. He was on the Broncos when the team made it and won Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers during the 2015 season.

Ronnie Hillman, #23 of the Denver Broncos, is tackled by Luke Kuechly, #59 of the Carolina Panthers, in the third quarter during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on Feb. 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.

Ronnie Hillman, #23 of the Denver Broncos, is tackled by Luke Kuechly, #59 of the Carolina Panthers, in the third quarter during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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He spent four seasons with Denver before spending the 2016 season with both the Minnesota Vikings and the then-San Diego Chargers.

Fox News’ Ryan Morik contributed to this report.

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