Ron Springs the retired Cowboys running back, died Thursday afternoon at Medical City Dallas Hospital, where he had been since lapsing into a coma in October 2007 after undergoing a procedure to remove a cyst. He was 54.
Less than eight months before he lost consciousness, Springs made national headlines when he received one of former teammate Everson Walls’ kidneys in a transplant. Springs had been ravaged by diabetes, and his right foot was amputated in 2005. Walls could not bear to see his friend and former colleague continue to suffer.
The transplant marked the first time a former U.S. professional athlete received an organ from a teammate. The surgery went perfectly. The story of a teammate’s sacrifice attracted as much attention as anything Springs ever did on the field and earned much needed publicity for organ donation awareness.
Springs, who was born and raised in Williamsburg, Va., and played at Ohio State, was selected by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 1979 draft. He spent six seasons with the team before ending his eight-year career with Tampa Bay.
Springs is survived by his wife Adriane; Shawn, his son from another marriage; his daughter Ayra; and daughter Ashley.