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Timeout with Ronnie Hillman


Ronnie Hillman has played for a youth team organized by Snoop Dogg and alongside Peyton Manning in the Broncos backfield. Both experiences have contributed to who he is as a person and player.

After growing up in Los Angeles (La Habra, California), Hillman played two seasons at San Diego State and ranks fourth in school history with 3,243 rushing yards. He was drafted by Denver in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft and totaled 1,842 yards and 12 touchdowns, including a 72-yarder against the Vikings last season.

Hillman joined the Vikings in September after Adrian Peterson was placed on injured reserve. He had a career-long 32-yard reception against Detroit in Week 9 and 30 yards on seven carries.

We caught up with Hillman for a recent Timeout.

Q: Who was your favorite running back growing up?

A: There were a few of them. You can go from guys like LT (LaDainian Tomlinson) to Priest Holmes, Brian Westbrook and Warrick Dunn. I liked a lot of guys, so it's kind of hard to pinpoint just one. If I'm naming top two, I'd say LT and Marshall.

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration off the field?


A: Probably my dad (Ronnie). You see him come back from a stroke, heart attack, diabetes, that's a lot of [stuff], so to see him fighting and still living, you know, he had a heart attack and a stroke in the same year, so just to see him [overcome that], and then he's got diabetes. He's strong.

Q: How long have you had the nickname of Flash?

A: I was a kid, 13-14, right before I got to high school. At that time, I was getting in trouble a lot, so kids around me called me 'Flash' because I was a hot head. I took things and went with it. I guess it turned into something different. Now it's just speed.

Q: You played on a team coached by Snoop Dogg?

A: I played for Snoop for a year. It was cool. That league was crazy, a lot of good players, like a super league. It made you better. It was giving inner-city kids the chance to travel, go to Miami and play different teams, go to Detroit. It had a lot to do with changing my life and getting me on the right track.

Q: How much interaction did you have with him?

A: Not too much, because he had separate teams, and I was on the older group, but every now and then we'd chat or have an interaction. I talk to him more now than when I actually played in his league. It's cool to have that kind of story.

Q: You said it helped change your life. Why did that reach you at that stretch in your life?

A: Because I was in the eighth grade. That's kind of where a kid decides if he wants to be bad or take football seriously. I think when I went to Miami, we played Uncle Luke's Pop Warner team, and I was like, 'I want to do this.' It shifted me from that tipping edge to the good side.


Q: That had to be something, loading up on a plane…

A: Yeah, loading up on the plane, going over and playing in Dolphin Stadium. We met all of these NFL players and celebrities. It was like, 'Dang, this mess is cool.' You're a kid, so it's like, 'This is the coolest thing ever. I want to do this all of the time.' It made me shift my focus.

Q: What do you think about reaching the NFL?

A: It's a blessing, not only to me but to many people. I grew up with so many different kids, half of my Pop Warner team has been in jail or is in jail. Just to be an example is cool. You want other people to make it, but just to be that kid that made it out and can be an example for other kids in the same position as me is cool.

Q: What do you like to do off the field?

A: Off the field, I'm heavy into fashion and music. I love clothes. If it's nice and looks good, I'm into it if it fits my style. My favorite designer is Saint Laurent. It's a few, a lot. I could talk to you about fashion all day.


Note: Hillman has his own fashion line of T-shirts at *******.*

Q: What sparked that?

A: Just being around. Living in LA, you see so many different streams of culture and fashion that it intrigues you, how this guy dresses, and that guy dresses. It's culture, you know?

Q: Minnesota is a little different from LA. How have you adjusted?

A: Well, I really didn't have to adjust from LA. I had Denver. Denver and Minnesota are like sea salt and regular salt. You've got the salt you have to grind, and the salt you shake. It's the same salt, there's just different ways to get it.

Q: Best memory of Peyton Manning?

A: It's not my favorite story or moment, but kind of like how I learned a lesson. My first week of practice, I didn't really know what I was doing. I messed up on a play, and he was like, 'Get him out of here!' in front of the whoooooole team and coaches. 'Get him out of here! He doesn't know what he's doing!' I'm like, 'Oh, my God. I'm a rookie and so I'm already…I mean he's at the top of his lungs. I think I messed up on a checkdown and I'm like, 'I'm never playing again.' That's a classic moment.

Q: Did you see the viral video of the iguana breaking loose from the snakes?

A: Yeah, I did see that. The snake had it, and it kept going. I need to watch film on that lizard. He's very elusive.

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