Former Buckeye Ron Springs dies

Former Buckeye Ron Springs dies

Published May. 13, 2011 1:23 p.m. ET

Former Ohio State and Dallas Cowboys running back Ron Springs passed away after suffering a heart attack Thursday at the age of 54.

He had been in a coma since October 2007 when complications arose during surgery to have a cyst removed from one of his arms at a Dallas-area hospital.

The outlook was considered dire at the time and never improved, although Springs’ friend and family have continued to work to prevent others from going through some of the medical hardships that plagued the later years of his life.

After a prep career at Lafayette High School in Williamsburg, Va., Springs spent one season at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College before enrolling at Ohio State in 1976.

He ran for 1,166 yards in 1977 and was named All-Big Ten as a junior before serving as a captain for head coach Woody Hayes in 1978.

Springs finished his career with 2,140 yards, a total still good for 19th on the school’s all-time list.

The Cowboys drafted him in the fifth round of the 1979 draft.

He spent six years in Dallas before finishing his career with Tampa Bay for two seasons. Springs totaled 2,519 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing and caught 249 passes for 2,559 yards and another 10 scores.

Springs is survived by his wife, Adriane, and children Shawn, Ayra and Ashley.

Shawn Springs was a three-year starter at cornerback at Ohio State from 1994-96. He was named first-team All-Big Ten twice and was honored as a first-team All-American his senior year.

“To me, Dad was Dad, not Ron Springs, NFL running back or Ohio State star,” Shawn told Buckeye Sports Bulletin for a 1995 story.

The two had a typically competitive relationship in Shawn’s younger days.

“Sometimes he talks about how good of a player he was, but it doesn’t bother me,” Shawn said then. “We get competitive when we play basketball one-on-one. We used to race until I was about 15. Then he couldn’t run with me anymore. We just have fun.”

During his college career, the younger Springs could not help but notice his father’s impact on his alma mater.

“He has been appreciated here,” Shawn said in ’95. “Every time I go to a banquet here people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you’re Ron Springs’ son. Your father was a great player and you’re going to be a great player.’ I always say thank you because I always have said hopefully one day I’ll be as good a player as my father was here. When my kid comes back here, I want people to say, ‘Oh, I remember your father and your grandfather.’ Maybe I can have a little piece of that some day.”

A diabetic, Ron Springs had his right foot amputated because of a staph infection and received a life-saving kidney transplant in March 2007. Former Cowboys teammate Everson Walls donated the kidney.

Before Springs slipped into his coma, he and Walls began The Ron Springs & Everson Walls Gift for Life Foundation. Operating in Frisco, Texas, the foundation’s goal is aid education, early detection and prevention of chronic kidney disease.

“What we'd like to get to is being able to go out in communities and let people understand the seriousness of diabetes, type two diabetes, in America,” Springs told reporters at a press conference to announce the foundation’s formation in August 2007. “Last year (Americans) spent like $23.9 million on just health care for type two diabetics. So guys, this is a serious epidemic in our country.”

Added Walls, “We want to try to make sure that everyone is aware of that because you become a living organ donor, that it does not hamper you or limit your lifestyle in any way at all. As long as you stay healthy, as long as you do the right things that you're supposed to be doing anyway to live a long and healthy lifestyle, then becoming a living organ donor is something that's attainable by almost everyone in this room.”

For more information on The Ron Springs and Everson Walls Gift For Life Foundation, visit