Former NFL Star Peyton Hillis Is in Critical Condition — What Happened?

Allison DeGrushe - Author
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Jan. 6 2023, Published 11:00 a.m. ET

As we all continue to share prayers and support for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, we must also offer well wishes to former NFL running back Peyton Hillis.

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The 36-year-old ex-athlete, who's known for his time with the Cleveland Browns, is in intensive care after a life-threatening accident.

So, what happened to Peyton Hillis? Keep reading for all the known details.

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What happened to Peyton Hillis?

On Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, several outlets announced that former Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis was injured in a swimming accident where he saved his children from drowning in an ocean in Pensacola, Fla.

Fox 24 anchor Alyssa Orange reported that the pro-athlete-turned-actor was rushed to the hospital via helicopter, which tells us his injuries were life-threatening. "He remains unconscious in the ICU," she wrote on Twitter. "Family asks to please pray for him and a speedy recovery."

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Peyton's children are safe, but he is still in critical condition.

Many fans flooded his Instagram page with prayers and support, with one fan writing, "Praying for you big dawg, you did what any father would do… get well soon." Another added, "What an amazing human being you are! Risking yourself to save your children is awesome! I’m praying you come out of this ok because the earth needs people like you."

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Health updates on Peyton reveal he's improving, but is still unconscious.

A family member recently shared an update on Peyton's health, stating that he's improving after the accident.

"I just wanted to let everyone know on Razorback Nation that Peyton is doing better. He’s still in intensive care and having some problems with his kidneys and his lungs but the doctors say he is improving," Peyton's uncle Greg Hillis wrote on Facebook. "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 being thrown up on his behalf!!!"

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Peyton Hillis played in the NFL from 2008-2014.

After being drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, the athlete quickly made a name for himself and became the starting running back for the Denver Broncos. Two years later, Peyton was traded to the Cleveland Browns; he dominated the 2010 NFL season, rushing for 1,177 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns.

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As a result of his breakout season, Peyton was announced as the cover star of Madden NFL 12, beating out the likes of Michael Vick and then Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers. He followed up a stellar season with a poor performance, which led him to be associated with the Madden Curse.

He later signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New York Giants before retiring in 2015 at his doctor's request due to his history of concussions. Peyton also claimed in an interview with Bleacher Report that "as far as NFL football goes, my heart's just not in it anymore."

Our thoughts go out to Peyton's friends and family during this difficult time.

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