Crime

Tragedy: NFL Star Adrian Peterson's 2-Year-Old Son Dies After Severe Head Injuries; Boyfriend of Victim's Mother Charged

"God Bless everyone and thank u so much"

Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson makes his way off an NFL football practice field at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minn., Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. Peterson said he is certain he will play Sunday despite a serious personal matter that caused him to miss practice earlier this week. Credit: AP

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (TheBlaze/AP) — Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson's two-year-old son has died in a South Dakota hospital, according to Associated Press sources. He suffered severe head injuries; CNN notes that police report the child was allegedly being abused.

Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson makes his way off an NFL football practice field at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minn., Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. (Credit: AP)

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Sioux Falls, South Dakota, police said Joseph Robert Patterson, 27, has been charged with aggravated battery of an infant and aggravated assault. If convicted on the charges, both felonies, Patterson could face up to 40 years in prison and an $80,000 fine.

Prosecutors are considering filing additional charges against Patterson in light of the boy's death, according to police.

Soon after the news came out of the boy's death, Adrian Peterson took to Twitter to express his gratitude to his family, fans and the "fraternity of brothers" in the NFL for their support.

"God Bless everyone and thank u so much," he wrote.

Earlier Friday Peterson's father, Nelson Peterson, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that one of Peterson's sons was in critical condition at a hospital in South Dakota.

Patterson called authorities about 5:45 p.m. Wednesday to a report that a 2-year-old was choking in his Sioux Falls apartment, police spokesman Sam Clemens told CNN. Officers found the toddler unresponsive and was rushed to the hospital.

Patterson is described as the boyfriend of the child's mother and was the only other person in the residence at the time, police tell CNN, adding that the mother isn't under investigation.

Jane Bammert, owner of the Little Coalinga Bar, confirmed to The Associated Press that Peterson stopped by the Sioux Falls restaurant Thursday for a turkey sandwich. He was not at practice that day for what the Vikings described only as a personal matter.

Peterson smiled politely while he took questions after practice Friday, but he spoke softly with a somber expression with dozens of cameras, recorders and media members surrounding him in the locker room. CNN notes that at this point his son was in critical condition.

"I'll be ready to roll, focused," Peterson said at the time, looking ahead to the game against Carolina. "I will be playing Sunday, without a doubt."

Joseph Patterson, who is charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery on an infant, leaves the Lincoln County Courthouse after a hearing in Canton, S.D., on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. (Credit: AP)

Peterson is second in the NFL with 421 yards rushing and first in the league with five touchdowns.

"Football is something I will always fall back on," Peterson said. "It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that's what I need in my life, guys supporting me. ... Things that I go through, I've said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level. I'm able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, so that's what I plan on doing."

The Panthers were sympathetic.

"It's absolutely terrible. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family..." coach Ron Rivera said.

Coach Leslie Frazier said he thought Peterson practiced as well as he could Friday considering the circumstance.

"He seems like he was into it, engaged in what he had to get done," Frazier said. "Obviously tough. He's human. But he was into it mentally, best as he could be."

Fellow running back Toby Gerhart said Peterson is well supported in the locker room.

"It's hard for any man to admit that he's hurting or he needs help or anything like that," Gerhart said. "For us to be around him and tell him we've got his back, if there's anything he needs that we're there for him, I think that goes a long way."

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