Summer 2024

Former NFL RB Peyton Hillis praises 'Yahweh,' expected to make full recovery after swimming incident

Former NFL running back Peyton Hillis took to Twitter this week to thank everyone for their prayers and support after a swimming incident sent him to the hospital.

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“I just wanted to come on here and thank everyone for all the prayers and love y’all have given me,” Hillis wrote in part. “It’s really made all the difference.”

Last month, Hillis saved one of his children, as well as another family member, from drowning. On Jan. 6, the Arkansas football program — where Hillis played from 2004-2007 — called it a “heroic act saving his family.”

He has chosen not to speak publicly about the incident other than the tweet in an effort to protect his family’s privacy, but his sister, Hayley Davis, shared updates on her Facebook page and gave glory to God for the progress Hillis was making.

“We are all so thankful for the prayers and kind words over the past few weeks/months,” she wrote on Jan. 20. “God has truly been with us and has carried us through. I am so thankful to know a mighty God during good times and bad.”

Hillis was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft and spent two seasons with the team. Denver traded him to Cleveland in 2010, leading to the best year of his career. He scored 13 total touchdowns (11 rushing and two receiving) and ran for 1,177 yards.

His unexpected emergence got him a spot on the cover of “Madden 12.” The honor came with questions about the Madden “curse,” where players seemingly get hurt or see declines after appearing on the cover. Hillis responded to by pointing to his faith.

“I could get hurt next year, but I don’t believe it has anything to do with the curse,” he told the New York Times in 2011. “I’m a Christian man and I don’t believe anything could be put in front of me that God can’t take away.”

Hillis spent four more seasons in the NFL with the Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants. He played in a total of 81 games in his seven-year career, rushing for 2,832 yards and 23 touchdowns.

According to KFSM, Hillis had recently been volunteering as an assistant coach at Shiloh Christian School in Springdale, Arkansas, where he coaches his son, Orry. The school held a prayer vigil after Hillis was hospitalized.

Bryant Davis, head of the school’s youth football program, told KFSM the incident reminded him how precious life can be and that Shiloh Christian wanted to keep praising God despite the fear and uncertainty surrounding Hillis’ condition.

“At the end of the day, football is what we do. It’s not who we are,” Davis said. “And when something scary like that happens to Damar Hamlin and we think about what’s going on with Peyton, it makes us think that life is short and life is precious. We want him back and we want him healed. And we want to bring God glory through the midst of it.”

Hillis said in his tweet he is expected to make a full recovery.

“I left the hospital with no worries and concerns and should make a 100% recovery,” he said. “I’m a very lucky and blessed man. Yahweh has really blessed me and I am very thankful.”

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