Ron Springs, the father of former Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs, died on Thursday at the age of 54.
Springs had been in a coma for the past four years after losing oxygen during an operation to remove a cyst from his arm.
The former Dallas Cowboy had suffered from diabetes for 20 years, and needed a kidney transplant. That's when former teammate Everson Walls stepped in and donated one of his kidneys in 2006.
Even though Springs was in a coma since 2007, Walls said his death is a shock.
“We are people of faith, and we never gave up hope that he would regain consciousness. He seemed to be holding his own. They say he just took a breath and flat-lined,” he told the AP.
NBC Washington's Lindsay Czarniak talked with Shawn Springs last year about his father and how he handled his lengthy medical problems.
"I just want to remember my dad the way we used to talk on the phone, talk about football and the fun times we had," he told NBC Washington at the time. "He's always been an inspiration in my life and important."
Springs added that the year his dad went into the coma was especially traumatic.
"That was a very, very tough year for me," he said. "I was going through a divorce, my dad went into a coma and Sean Taylor died. I was almost numb. For me, I just dove into football. I'd go to the facility at 7 (a.m.) and leave at like 7:30 or 8 (p.m.). I just studied football -- when I was in town. The first couple weeks, (coach) Gregg (Williams) would let me go down to Dallas so I would be in the hospital with my dad, and then come back on a Friday or Saturday and go out and ball."
Ron Springs, who grew up in Williamsburg, Va., was drafted in 1979 by the Cowboys out of Ohio State, and played six seasons for Dallas before playing his two final seasons with Tampa Bay.
He amassed more than 4,700 yards rushing and receiving and scored 10 touchdowns in his NFL career.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones released a statement, saying “Ron’s life will always be remembered by the joy and laughter that he brought to others and the courage and toughness he displayed until the end. Regardless of the circumstances, he always had a smile for everyone. The Dallas Cowboys have lost a wonderful member of our family, and we share our thoughts and prayers with his family.”