Following a reported swimming accident, the former Arkansas football star was in critical condition, but he is now making significant progress in his recovery.
Peyton Hillis, a former college and NFL football star, has reportedly been taken off a ventilator after rescuing members of his family from drowning in a swimming accident a week ago.
Hillis’s condition has been improving steadily since the reported incident, so this is welcome news.
Hillis’s girlfriend, Angela Cole, posted on Instagram that he is “on the road to recovery” but that “he’s still got a ways ahead of him.”
What Happened Peyton Hillis?
According to reports, Hillis was involved in a water rescue off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, on January 4 that involved at least one member of his family, and since then he has been hospitalized.
According to the emergency services of Escambia County, Florida, four people, including two children, were in peril in the water before being rescued.
Shortly after that, paramedics arrived and rushed two adults to the hospital, flying one of them there in a helicopter. The authorities have not released any suspects’ names.
Fox 24 in Fayetteville reported Hillis was in critical condition in ICU after he helped in the rescue, and a man named Greg Hillis who claimed to be Hillis’ uncle said the former Arkansas player was hospitalized and having trouble with his kidneys and lungs in a Facebook message.
Peyton Hillis’s Football Career
During his time at Arkansas from 2004 to 2008, Hillis established himself as a major player. After four years with the Razorbacks, he finished with 203 carries for 959 yards and 12 touchdowns (an average of 4.7 yards per carry).
He also posed a threat as a receiver, hauling in 118 receptions for 1,195 yards (averaging 10.1 yards per catch) and 11 more scores.
Hillis’s NFL career spanned from 2008 to 2014, during which time he suited up for the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and New York Giants.
He had a career day in Cleveland, running 270 times for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns and landing on the cover of Madden 12.
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Hillis finished his professional career with 2,832 rushing yards, an average of 4.1 yards per carry on 81 carries, 1,050 receiving yards, and 26 touchdowns.
Support For Hillis Comes From Former National Football League Players
On Twitter, Hillis has been hailed as a hero by his former NFL teammates and opponents. Hillis is a “legend,” according to ex-teammate and current Giants player Rashad Jennings.
Griffin III, a former NFL quarterback who is now an analyst for ESPN, once referred to Hillis as a “superhero.”
As he put it on Twitter on January 6th, “Peyton Hillis is a dang Super Hero.” For the sake of his family, he risked his own life to save his children from drowning in the ocean. So relieved to hear that, after a frighteningly close call, he seems to be making a full recovery!
For his part, Griffin asked for prayers for Hillis. When word got out that Hillis could be taken off the ventilator, Griffin gushed about the effectiveness of prayer.
Having One’s Big Break With The Cleveland Browns
In Cleveland, Peyton Hillis hoped to show that his promising play as a rookie wasn’t an anomaly. Injuries gave him another chance to shine.
Due to injuries to Jerome Harrison and James Davis, Hillis was promoted to the starting lineup. Hillis’s first start as the starter at running back was against the formidable Baltimore Ravens defense, and he absolutely torched them for 180 yards on the ground and in the air.
With each passing week, he showed marked improvement, eventually passing the 1,000-yard mark and joining the elite company of Marshall Faulk as the only player in NFL history to record at least 130 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, and 60 receiving yards in the same game.
Even though Hillis finished the season with 1,177 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, his year wasn’t over. He famously beat out Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick in the offseason to land on the cover of Madden NFL 12. The football world was his for the taking.
Starting in 2004, he had a successful collegiate career for the Razorbacks after graduating from Conway High School in 2003.
He played for the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New York Giants during his seven seasons in the NFL after being drafted by Denver in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft.