Former NFL running back Peyton Hillis recently shared the harrowing story of how he saved his son and niece from a rip current while swimming at a Florida beach earlier this year.
In an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan, Hillis expressed his gratitude that no one lost their life in the incident, calling it a “100% a miracle.”
The incident took place on January 4, off the coast of Pensacola. Hillis, a father of three, was enjoying a day at the beach with his family when his niece, Camille, and his son, Orry, found themselves in trouble.
Without hesitation, Hillis sprang into action, rescuing Camille first and then quickly turning his attention to his son.
Speaking with Strahan, Hillis recounted the “scariest point” of the ordeal, describing the difficult decision he had to make between saving his niece or his son.
He shared, “I think the scariest point… was when I’m swimming to my son and I have to pass by him because my niece is in more danger. I knew that I had to pass him up to get to Camille first. Because, you know, if I didn’t then there’s no way she would’ve made it.”
Despite the fear and intense situation, Hillis pressed on, swimming past his own son to reach Camille. However, upon reaching her, Camille began to panic, exclaiming that they were going to die. With courage and determination, Hillis managed to bring both his son and his niece back to shore.
However, the ordeal took a toll on his body.
Following the rescue, Hillis experienced lung and kidney failure and fell unconscious. Emergency services were called, and he was airlifted to Pensacola’s Baptist Hospital, where he was sedated and placed on a ventilator.
For about ten days, Hillis remained in this critical condition. However, his strength prevailed, and he eventually regained consciousness.
He spent an additional two weeks in the hospital’s intensive care unit, recovering from the incident.
Peyton Hills Enjoyed A Successful NFL Career
Peyton Hillis, is mostly known for his career as an NFL player, he played in the league for seven years. In 2011, he even graced the cover of EA Sports Madden as the game’s cover athlete.
Throughout his career, Hillis played for various teams, including the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and New York Giants. In total, he amassed an impressive 2,832 rushing yards.
Today, Hillis serves as an inspiration for many, demonstrating immense bravery and selflessness in the face of danger. The incident serves as a reminder of the unpredictability of nature and the importance of water safety.
Hillis and his family were fortunate to survive the rip current, and their story serves as a cautionary tale for beachgoers everywhere.