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Former NFL RB Peyton Hillis off Ventilator, Recovering After Swimming Accident

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 12, 2023

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 19:  Peyton Hillis #33 of the New York Giants warming up before a game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 19, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  The Cowboys defeated the Giants 31-21.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Former NFL running back Peyton Hillis has been taken off a ventilator and is recovering well after suffering a swimming accident while saving his two children who were caught in a riptide last week.

"A hero. So proud of this man and so incredibly grateful for family and this incredible hospital," Angela Cole, Hillis' girlfriend, wrote on Instagram. "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' uncle Greg said his nephew suffered kidney and lung damage and had to be helicoptered to the hospital after jumping into the ocean in Pensacola Beach, Florida, as his children struggled in a riptide. The children were unharmed and did not require medical attention.

Hillis, 36, played seven NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants. He's best remembered for a breakout 2010 season in Cleveland that saw him rush for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns. Fans then voted him as the surprise choice for the Madden 12 video game, beating out names like Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick along the way.

Hillis retired from football in 2015 with 2,832 yards and 23 touchdowns across his professional career.

Hillis has largely stayed out of the public spotlight since but made his acting debut in an independent horror film, The Hunting, in 2021.