Former NFL running back Peyton Hillis is reportedly hospitalized and is in critical condition after saving his children from drowning in the ocean. Both his children are safe and resting but Hillis is in the intensive care unit for treatment of his lungs and kidneys. However, doctors have confirmed that his health is improving, according to his uncle Greg Hillis.
The 36-year-old retired running back was transported to hospital by ambulance in Florida after retrieving his children from the ocean at a Pensacola beach. He was helicoptered to the nearby hospital, where an update stated that his breathing in the intensive care unit was "improving."
Close Encounter With Death
Hillis' uncle, Greg Hillis, posted on Facebook that his nephew's condition was improving even though social media posts claimed that he was in a severe state. Peyton Hillis was in Pensacola, Florida when the incident occurred, and according to Fox 24 reporter Alyssa Orange, he was transported to the hospital by helicopter and is still comatose there.
"I just wanted to let everyone know on Razorback Nation that Peyton is doing better," Greg Hillis wrote.
"He's still in intensive care and having some problems with his kidneys and his lungs but the doctors say he is improving. I just wanted to head off any rumors that may be started. I'm sure he would want everyone to know that he appreciates all of the prayers thrown up on his behalf!!!"
A Browns spokeswoman declined to comment, stating that the organization was awaiting confirmation of the latest developments about Hillis' status.
Hillis is divorced and dating the actress Angela Cole right now. It's unknown if she spent Thursday with Hillis and his kids at the beach in Pensacola.
Critical But Stable
Peyton Hillis, 36, played in the NFL for seven seasons from 2008 to 2014. Denver selected him in the sixth round out of Arkansas, and he played for the Broncos, Browns, Chiefs, and Giants. Hillis began his NFL career with the Denver Broncos before being dealt to the Cleveland Browns for backup quarterback Brady Quinn along with a sixth-round pick.
Hillis amassed 1,197 receiving yards and 960 rushing yards over the course of his four years at the University of Arkansas, scoring 23 touchdowns.
He is best remembered for his 2010 season with Cleveland, in which Hillis accumulated 1,600 total yards and 13 total touchdowns. He received a majority of the votes from across the country to be the cover athlete for the video game EA Sports Madden 12.
He left Cleveland after playing there for two seasons and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent. He spent time playing for the New York Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers toward the end of his professional career.
In 2015, he opened up to Bleacher Report about his struggles with mental health and depression as he made the decision to quit the sport he adored.
"I was going through real bad depression during that time," he said of his years in Cleveland. "I was getting help because I couldn't sleep, I was so upset that everything was going down the way it was and nobody could understand."
Hillis divorced Amanda, the mother of his children, in 2020 and is now dating Cole, an actress. The two starred in "The Hunting", a horror film starring that was released in 2021. The movie served as a sort of homecoming for Hillis as it was filmed in the Cleveland suburb of Mantua, Ohio.
On July 6, 2022, Cole revealed their relationship for the first time in a Facebook post.