Former Arkansas and NFL running back Peyton Hillis was discharged from the hospital on Friday, about two weeks after he reportedly helped rescue family members from a swimming accident in Pensacola, Florida.
According to ESPN, two adults and two children were struggling in the water off the coast of Pensacola on Jan. 4 when Hillis and others rushed in to help. Specifics of what led to the incident aren’t clear, but Hillis was flown to the hospital via a helicopter and admitted to the ICU.
After initially struggling with kidney and lung issues, and being on a ventilator, Hillis was then released on Friday.
“The amount of love and gratitude I have for the incredible team that took care of Peyton is indescribable,” Hillis’ girlfriend, Angela Cole, wrote on Instagram. “This picture does not have anywhere near the amount of people who took such great care of him.
“To Baptist Hospital in Pensacola: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know I told you this probably 20 times a day, but you are so incredible. You all worked like a perfected machine with each and every one of you so kind, attentive, calming and caring. You not only saved Peyton's life, you made it a priority to make sure that his family and I were okay amidst your busy schedules … I mean, I am just in AWE. You have all became a huge family to me and I know have meant so much to all of us. I can't express this enough when I say this, thank you for making all the difference in our lives. I'll never be able to thank you enough!”
Hillis spent four seasons at Arkansas as a fullback, and was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He was traded to Cleveland two years later and immediately became a breakout star. Hillis had a career-best 1,177 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns in 2010, which actually earned him enough votes to become the “Madden NFL 12” cover athlete.
Hillis then spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants before retiring due to a string of concussions, something his doctors recommended, in 2015.