Darren Lewis, former Texas A&M star and Bears running back, dead at 55

Former Texas A&M running back Darren Lewis died Friday of cancer at the age of 55, the school announced.

Lewis starred for the Aggies in the late 1980s and early ’90s, earning first-team All-American honors in 1988 and 1990.

In that 1988 season, his sophomore campaign, Lewis rushed for at least 100 yards in 10 games, totaling 1,692 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in 12 contests. He was the second-leading rusher in the country that season, only behind Barry Sanders.

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A Texas A&M Aggies helmet during the American Team practice for the Reese’s Senior Bowl on Jan. 31, 2024, at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. (Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

He rushed for one fewer yard two years later, but he found the end zone 19 times (18 of which were rushing scores). He owned the top-two rushing seasons in Aggie history until Trayveon Williams surpassed him in 2018 with 1,760.

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

By the time Lewis left for the NFL, his 5,012 rushing yards were the fifth-most in NCAA history (he’s now 22nd). His 27 100-yard games in his Aggie career remain a school record.

Darren Lewis vs Cardinals

Bears running back Darren Lewis falls to the ground during the Arizona Cardinals game in Chicago, Aug. 14, 1993. ( AP Photo/John Zich, File)

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Though he didn’t test positive for drugs while in the NFL, he struggled with cocaine after his brief career. He lost his house after a divorce.

In 2014, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison in relation to armed robberies in the Dallas area.

His cancer was diagnosed in prison, and he was allowed to leave prison to receive treatment. He recently entered hospice care, according to several published reports.

Texas A&M logo on pylon

Kyle Field before a game between the A&M Aggies and the Lamar Cardinals on Sept. 6, 2014, in College Station, Texas. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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Lewis was a sixth-round pick by the Chicago Bears in the 1991 NFL Draft, with his stock falling after a positive cocaine test at that year’s combine. In the NFL, he played just 33 games (31 of which were in his first two years).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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