Former Arizona running back Leo Mills, one of the original five-star recruits to sign with the Wildcats, has passed away, according to former teammate David Hinton.
Mills, 40, died from a heart attack.
“Leo was doing as well as he could,” Hinton mentioned in an e-mail. “Living with his girlfriend and 2 young boys 3 and 5. He’d been living in the Sabino Canyon area for the last 6-7 years and was looking forward to sports with his boys.
“He was my dorm roommate and my bro for life.”
Just got off the horn with Hint… Rest In Peace Leo Mills.. 🐻⬇️Always
— Brandon Sanders (@coachBSanders18) August 16, 2020
Hinton mentioned that Mills’ parents are to arrive in Tucson to make funeral arrangements.
Mills, who was recruited to Arizona by Dick Tomey out of Humble, Texas, in 1998, played three seasons from 1999 to 2001 and gained 905 yards on 191 carries with six touchdowns in his career.
10/14/00 – In their second 3OT game in school history, the University of Arizona defeated Washington State in Tucson, 53-47. RB Leo Mills (129yds rushing) scored the winning TD on a 2-yard run. LB Antonio Pierce snagged an INT at the goal line to seal the win. #BearDown pic.twitter.com/uUcRBDjMvS
— Arizona Sports History (@AZSportsHistory) October 14, 2019
In a 1998 article, the Arizona Daily Star wrote that Mills was the “top-rated skill player ever at UA.” Mills was a Parade All-American and was rated the No. 3 running back in the nation by National Recruiting Advisor.
“He has been a terrific person and has been supportive of the other guys,” Tomey told reporters after Mills ran for 70 of his game-high 129 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime in a 53-47 win over Washington State in the 2000 season.
Injuries and personal issues took a toll on Mills, who left the program after his fourth season (following his redshirt junior season in 2001) for an attempt at the NFL.
He remained in Tucson after his football career.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.