Hillman’s family announced his passing in the early hours of Thursday morning, December 22.
‘It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved son, brother & father, Ronnie K Hillman Jr,’ read a post on Hillman’s Instagram account alongside a picture of his smiling face. ‘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.’
In August, Hillman was diagnosed with renal medullary carcinoma, a rare form of kidney cancer. He had been undergoing treatment, but the family has said it was unsuccessful.
‘We are deeply saddened by the untimely passing of former Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman,’ read a statement from the Broncos. ‘A key contributor during 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 by the Broncos in 2012 and grew into a dynamic player and well-respected teammate. Ronnie will be fondly remembered by our organization, which extends its heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the Hillman family during this difficult time.’
A Southern California native and former San Diego State Aztec, Hillman was taken by the Broncos in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He would go on to become a regular contributor for Denver en route to a Super Bowl 50 win in February of 2016.
He also played for the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers before getting cut by the Dallas Cowboys in training camp in 2017.