Former running back Peyton Hillis is “on the road to recovery” after a swimming accident in Florida last week, according to his family.
“Peyton is off the ventilator and is doing great!!” his sister, Haley Davis, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. “Peyt still has a long road of recovery ahead so please continue to pray but I wanted to update everyone with this happy news!”
Greg Hillis, their uncle, wrote on Facebook that Haley was “also a hero in the water along side Peyton” who was taken to the hospital with him.
Hillis was airlifted from the Portofino Island Resort to a local hospital in Pensacola, Florida after a swimming accident on Jan. 5.
Hillis suffered lung and kidney injuries “while saving a family member from drowning,” according to Otis Kirk of KNWA FOX24. Escambia County Fire Rescue’s incident report said Hills “had reportedly provided assistance to four swimmers that were in distress” before being rescued himself.
Angela Cole, Hillis’ girlfriend, wrote this on Instagram:
A hero. ❤️ So proud of this man and so incredibly grateful for family and this incredible hospital. Peyton is off the ventilator and is on the road to recovery. Please continue to pray for he’s still got a ways ahead of him, but thank you for all of your prayers and love and support thus far. It truly makes all the difference. Today was a good day. ❤️🙏🏻
Hillis, 36, blocked for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones as a fullback at Arkansas, helping the Razorbacks reach two bowl games in four seasons. He was then selected by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL draft.
Hillis originally began his NFL career at fullback, but former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan moved him to running back after the team had a series of injuries at the position in 2008. Hillis went on to become a fan favorite after totaling 522 yards from scrimmage and scoring six touchdowns in 12 games (six starts) as a rookie.
Denver changed coaches in 2009 and Josh McDaniels reduced Hillis’ role before later trading him to the Cleveland Browns in 2010. Hillis went on to gain 1,654 yards from scrimmage and scored 13 touchdowns in his first season with the Browns, earning Madden 12 cover honors.
Hillis later spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants before retiring in 2015 due to concussion and retirement concerns. He totaled 3,882 yards from scrimmage and scored 26 touchdowns in seven seasons (81 games) in the NFL.