Peyton Hillis, former NFL running back known for his powerhouse plays on the field, recently had a brush with death that left him unconscious for 10 days. But what’s truly remarkable is the heroic act that led to this near-death experience.
Hillis, who has captured the hearts of football fans everywhere, saved his own son and niece from a treacherous rip current during a family trip to a sunny beach in Florida.
In a new iterview with Good Morning America, his first since the accident, Hillis recounted the harrowing incident that unfolded that fateful day.
“We woke up and the kids were all going crazy,” Hillis began. “I’m gonna take the kids down, you know, let ’em play at the beach,” he casually mentioned. Little did he know that this seemingly innocuous decision would soon thrust him into a life-or-death situation.
As the day progressed and the sun shone brightly, Hillis’ son and niece found themselves caught in the clutches of a rip current. Their desperate pleas for help reached Hillis’s ears, but there was no lifeguard in sight. Without a second thought, the courageous athlete plunged into the water to rescue his loved ones.
Former NFL Running Back Peyton Hillis Recounts Saving His Son And Niece From A Rip Current
The situation quickly turned perilous, forcing Hillis to make an agonizing choice. With unwavering determination, he swam past his own son to reach his niece first, her terrified screams echoing in his ears. “We’re gonna die, we’re gonna die,” she cried out. Hillis remained composed, swiftly placing her on a boogie board and guiding her to safety.
But the hero’s work was far from over. Hillis returned for his son, who was frighteningly limp. With every ounce of strength, he carried his 130-pound boy, watching as his eyes rolled to the back of his head. In that heart-stopping moment, Hillis prayed fervently, pledging his own life for the safety of his child.
As they neared the shore, a glimmer of hope emerged. Hillis’s son managed to walk unassisted, but the heroic father himself collapsed just a stone’s throw away from safety. He was rushed to Pensacola’s Baptist Hospital, where he remained unconscious for 10 days.
The road to recovery has been far from easy for this resilient athlete. Although he’s made tremendous progress, Hillis acknowledges that his lungs may never fully return to normal. Both physically and mentally, he continues to face challenges, taking each day as it comes.
Hillis has a powerful message to share with beachgoers everywhere, especially those with children in tow. “You gotta respect the water,” he emphasizes. His own experience has taught him the importance of being acutely aware of our surroundings and prioritizing safety above all else.