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Ex-NFL player Darren Lewis dead at 55: Former Texas A&M star dies from cancer amid troubled past

Ex-NFL player and all-time Texas A&M great Darren Lewis has died of cancer at the age of 55, the university announced Friday, about a year after he was granted compassionate release following a 27-year prison sentence for several armed robberies.

The university has not revealed how it learned of Lewis’ death. The former two-time All-American running back, who remains the Southwest Conference’s top rusher, struggled with cocaine addiction after football while also going through a divorce and the loss of his home in 1995.

He was sent to prison more than once, most recently in August 2014 when he pleaded guilty to three criminal charges related to armed robberies near Dallas in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He was subsequently given a 27-year prison sentence in the federal prison.

His cancer was diagnosed while he was in prison in Pollock, Louisiana. Lewis was allowed to leave for medical treatment.

According to several published reports, he was recently admitted to hospice care.

Despite his legal troubles and addiction problem, Lewis made history playing for A&M

Despite his legal troubles and addiction problem, Lewis made history playing for A&M

While playing four seasons with the Aggies between 1987 and 1990, Lewis ran for 5,012 yards. His college career was highlighted by a 1,692 yards season in 1988. He also rushed for 1,691 yards in 1990.

In 1988, he was the Southwest Conference Player of the Year and was named to his first All-America team.

He was the nation’s second-leading rusher that season behind Barry Sanders, who ran for 2,628 yards.

Lewis, nicknamed “Tank,” finished tied for eighth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1990, when he broke the Southwest Conference career record previously held by SMU’s Eric Dickerson, who ran for 4,450 yards. That season earned him his second All-America honor.

The Texas A&M Aggies shared a heartfelt post announcing Lewis' death on Instagram on Friday

The Texas A&M Aggies shared a heartfelt post announcing Lewis’ death on Instagram on Friday

Lewis was selected in the sixth round of the 1991 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears and played for them for three seasons. His stock fell in the draft after he was the only player to test positive for drugs at the league’s club.

A native of Dallas, Lewis played at local Carter High School and then attended Texas A&M. He had the two best seasons for the Aggies before Trayveon Williams broke his record, rushing for 1,760 in 2018.

Lewis’s 5,012 career rushing yards placed him fifth on the NCAA’s all-time rushing list at the end of his college career.

He never tested positive after being drafted by the Bears. He played in 33 games with five starts and rushed for 431 yards.

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