Peyton Hillis, a former Cleveland Browns running back, has been hospitalized after rescuing his two children from drowning in the ocean, according to reports.
A man believed to be the NFL veteran’s uncle confirmed in a statement on Facebook that doctors told him his nephew’s health is “improving,” though he remains in intensive care due to “some problems with his kidneys and his lungs.”
“I just wanted to let everyone know on Razorback Nation that Peyton is doing better,” Greg Hillis wrote. “I’m sure he would want everyone to know that he appreciates all of the prayers being thrown up on his behalf!!!”
According to FOX24 reporter Alyssa Orange, the swimming accident happened in Pensacola Beach, a resort community on the Gulf Coast barrier island of Santa Rosa, Florida.
Hillis was airlifted by helicopter to a local medical center and “remains unconscious in the ICU,” Orange said on Twitter.
Both of Hillis’s children are said to be safe and healthy, according to Sidelines Arkansas.
The 36-year-old attended the University of Arkansas from 2004 to 2007 following an outstanding high school career in Conway, during which he was ranked the 119th-best player nationwide for the 2004 recruiting class.
Hillis started his professional football career as a fullback after being drafted by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He played with the team for two seasons before being traded to the Cleveland Browns in 2010.
After Hillis’s 2010 breakout season, while playing with the Browns, scoring 13 total touchdowns and putting up 1,177 yards to go with 477 receiving yards as a running back, he was awarded by being the cover of “EA Sports Madden 12” following a vote by fans.
After a difficult season with the Browns in 2012, where Hillis injured his hamstring two times and unsuccessfully extended his contract, the team allowed him to leave as a free agent to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Just a year later, Hillis signed with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers in July 2013 but was released by the team without appearing in a game.
He concluded his professional football career with the New York Giants before officially retiring in 2015.