Former NFL Player, Texas A&M Star Dead At 55

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Fiona McLoughlin Contributor
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Darren Lewis, a former running back for Texas A&M and Chicago Bears player, died from cancer Thursday night at age 55.

Lewis played three seasons with the Bears before addiction ruined his football career, according to the New York Post (NYP). Lewis was selected by the Bears in the 1991 NFL Draft.

Lewis said he was exposed to cocaine and parties during the NFL draft process, ESPN reported. The Bears apparently said they were unaware of a failed drug test before drafting him and sent Lewis to rehab, the outlet reported.

He made 33 appearances in the NFL, rushing 431 yards during his career, ESPN noted. His career came to an end after his arrest in 1993 on domestic battery charges, the outlet reported. (RELATED: Former NFL Linebacker Ronald Powell Dead At 32).

Lewis pled guilty to a string of armed robberies in Dallas, Texas, back in 2014 and was later sentenced to 27 years in prison, the NYP reported. During one of the incidents, he shot a 7/11 worker in the thigh, which he later said was by accident, according to the outlet.

Lewis was battling Stage 4A metastatic squamous cell carcinoma while in prison, according to The Eagle. He was given a compassionate release on April 4, 2023, the outlet reported.

Lewis recently gave an interview with The Eagle, a Byran-College Station news outlet, with the help of his wife, Tammie Thibodeaux.

“I was selfish; I just wanted what Darren Lewis wanted and didn’t think about the people I may be hurting,” he told The Eagle. “It was all about what I wanted at that time.”

“Prison changed me in many ways,” Lewis told the outlet. “Prison actually saved my life. Prison changed the way I looked at things. Prison changed the way I approach things. Prison gave me the opportunity to sit down and study God’s word so that God could minister to me with his word.”

He was nicknamed “Tank” after his pushing running style, ESPN noted. While at Texas A&M, he rushed 5,012 yards, breaking Earl Campbell’s record of 4,450 yards. Lewis placed fifth on the NCAA career rushing list, according to ESPN.