Peyton Hillis, a former running back in the NFL, is pointing to God after escaping death while rescuing his children from drowning.
The 36-year-old athlete was taken to the hospital in early January in critical condition after rescuing his kids from drowning in the ocean. The incident, ESPN reported, involved two children and two adults.
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In a statement released this week, Hillis said people’s prayers for him and his children have “made all the difference,” describing the entire ordeal as a “very traumatic” experience for his whole family.
“I also want to thank my brave sister, mother, sister-in-law, my kids, and my girlfriend who has saved my life in more ways than one,” he said. “Thank you to the amazing staff at the hospital, Baptist Hospital in Pensacola. Y’all were truly amazing and took such great care of me. You made all the difference on my recovery.”
Hillis continued, “But I did want to come on here and show my appreciation for everyone who helped save my life and for all of your prayers and love and support. I left the hospital with no worries and concerns and should make a 100% recovery. I’m a very lucky and blessed man. Yahweh has really blessed me and I am very thankful.”
TMZ Sports obtained photos of the drowning rescue as it unfolded.
Photos appeared to show Hillis lying on a backboard on the beach, surrounded by lifeguards and paramedics, presumably after he rescued his two kids from the water.
Two ambulances and a helicopter arrived at the scene of the incident soon thereafter.
As news of Hillis’ condition spread, families with Shiloh Christian School in Springdale, Arkansas, came together to pray for the former running back, according to KFSM-TV.
Hillis volunteered as an assistant coach for the youth football team his son Orry played on.
“One of the great things about being a body of believers is relationship and community, and it’s about being not only here to pray for people, but it’s also here, it’s also to be here to support them through times like this,” Bryant Davis, lead coach of the kids’ football program.
Another coach at Shiloh Christian, Jordan Wright, praised Hillis for his selflessness.
“That’s sacrificial living,” said Wright. “That’s — that’s selflessness. It’s going out and risking it to save your kids. I mean, that’s amazing.”
Kelsey Eursery, whose son plays with Orry on the youth team, said it’s “not a surprise to hear that Peyton went in the water after his child and that he got him to safety and that he was fine, and that he risked his life.”
“We just as a Shiloh family and community, we want him healed,” she said. “We want him back at full capacity. We know that when one of us hurts all of his hurt.”
Please continue to pray for Hillis’ healing after he successfully rescued his children.
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