Four Years After Falling Into a Coma, Former Dallas Cowboy Ron Springs Has Died at 54

On the afternoon of October 12, 2007, former Dallas Cowboys running back Ron Springs went into a Medical City of Dallas operating room for what he and his family believed would be a simple surgery -- the removal of a cyst from his left forearm. But as Richie noted in his March 2010 cover story, the simple surgery became anything but, and Springs lapsed into a coma -- one from which he would never awaken. The Associated Press reports tonight that Ron Springs has died at the age of 54.

As recently as last year, Springs's teammate Everson Walls -- who donated a kidney to Springs in '07 -- believed his friend would pull through. He told Richie, "Except for being in a coma, he's a healthy dude. He opens his eyes and looks at you. He hears you. He feels you. You look for the small things. Small celebrations you hope turn into bigger things down the road. It keeps you from being disheartened, being bleak without hope."

In the end, what Walls and Springs had hoped would become an "inspirational story" landed in the courts. The tragic story grew more so with each passing month. And now, the former Ohio State great, drafted by the Cowboys in the fifth round in 1979, is dead, leaving behind wife Adriane and son Shawn. No doubt, Richie will have much more to say tomorrow morning on Sportatorium.