Hillman was 31 years old.
“We are deeply saddened by the untimely passing of former Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman,” the Broncos said. said in a press release. “A key contributor during the winningest four-year streak in franchise history, Ronnie was on two Super Bowl teams and led the Broncos to a rush in our Super Bowl 50 championship season. Soft-spoken with a warm smile and quiet intensity, Ronnie was drafted by the Broncos in 2012 and has become a dynamic player and highly respected teammate. Ronnie will be remembered by our organization, who express their deepest sympathies and condolences to the Hillman family at this difficult time.”
Frank Mazzotta, Hillman’s coach at La Habra High in California, posted a memory on Twitter.
Tonight we lost a great Highlander, such a pleasure to train. So many good memories of you. You could light up the room with your bright smile. As amazing as you were on the pitch, you were even better. Loved by so many, too young. Rest in paradise next to Big Ronnie! pic.twitter.com/3jGAE8ANIK
— Mazzotta LH FB Coach (@LHHighlanders) December 22, 2022
Former Broncos teammate Omar Bolden also posted his thoughts on Hillman’s death:
Drafted by Denver at age 20 in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft after a stellar career at San Diego State, Hillman has spent four of his five NFL seasons with the Broncos. He was a backup in his first two years before earning his first start in 2014, rushing for 100 yards against the New York Jets.
In 2015, Hillman became the team’s starter again after rushing for 111 yards in a Week 6 win over the Cleveland Browns. He rushed for four 100-yard games during the regular season and finished with a career-high 863 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. In Super Bowl 50, Hillman had just five carries for zero yards as the Broncos gave the majority of their carries to CJ Anderson.
A free agent after the Super Bowl, Hillman re-signed with the Broncos but was released in the final roster cuts days before the start of the 2016 regular season. The Minnesota Vikings signed Hillman early in the season after Adrian Peterson suffered a knee injury, but he only rushed for 50 yards in five games before the Vikings released him. The San Diego Chargers picked it up on waivers, and Hillman rushed for 81 yards in the final three games of his NFL career.
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