Since 1981—or as we say, “back in the day”—a friendship formed between two Dallas Cowboys players that has stood the test of time. At that time Ron Springs was the fullback for the Cowboys and Everson Walls joined the team as a defensive back. Walls was a relative unknown, coming out of Grambling College. He was not only a “no name,” he wasn’t even drafted. Springs was the unofficial leader of the African-American players and he took the rookie under his wing. 

The two only played four seasons together, but they became very close. Their wives formed an unbreakable bond and the men became the godfathers of each other’s children. Springs told his son Shawn not to be a running back like him, because the longevity isn’t there. He advised the kid to follow the path of Walls and move to the defensive side of the ball. Following his father’s advice, Shawn has been a premier defensive player for the past 11 years.

A few years after his football career ended, Ron was diagnosed with diabetes. Now was the time for Walls to step up. They worked out together in an effort to keep Ron as healthy as possible.  The workouts may have delayed the inevitable, but eventually the diabetes attacked Ron’s kidneys. He suffered the amputation of his foot and two toes on the other foot. It was determined that he desperately needed a kidney. In 2004 he was placed on the kidney transplant list. In 2006 Walls felt that the wait had been too long and he offered one of his kidneys.

When Shawn offered to be tested, Ron refused because the loss of a kidney would end Shawn’s career. For Walls, it was a no-brainer; he stepped in and offered one of his kidneys. The two men took this lesson to the community. They formed the Gift of Life Foundation to raise funds for diabetes and to promote organ donor awareness. 

Since Walls had had an all-pro career, he was still basking in the spotlight. He took his fame before a House subcommittee to press for passage of an organ donation bill and a national registry.

In October 2007, Springs entered Medical City Dallas Hospital to have a cyst removed from his arm. The procedure was deemed routine, but as soon as Springs was administered the anesthesia, he slipped into a coma. In 2008, Ron’s wife Adriane filled a malpractice lawsuit against two Medical City doctors, accusing them of causing brain damage to her husband during the cyst operation.

While Ron lay in a coma, Walls was a constant presence at his bedside. Walls often commented, “He knows I’m here.”

Two weeks ago, Ron Springs died having never come out of his coma. He was 54 years old.

In the day of selfishness displayed everywhere we go, this is a feel-good story. The relationship between Ron Springs and Everson Walls was a bond that went way beyond friendship.


Tim Lacy

Special to the AFRO