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Former NFL player Peyton Hillis is in critical condition after saving his children from drowning: 'He is a hero'

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George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Former NFL running back Peyton Hillis is reportedly in critical condition after saving his children from drowning.

The Arkansas native reportedly was involved in a "swimming accident" in Pensacola, Florida. Hillis, 36, is said to be in critical condition after rescuing his children from drowning in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday.

The former University of Arkansas star was airlifted to a local hospital.

"According to the family member, although he remains unconscious in the ICU, Hillis' breathing is improving," KNWA-TV reported.

Greg Hillis, Peyton's uncle, shared a Facebook post on Thursday regarding the former NFL player's condition, according to KNWA-TV reporter Alyssa Orange.

"I just wanted to let everyone know on Razorback Nation that Peyton is doing better," Greg Hillis wrote. "He’s still in intensive care and having some problems with his kidneys and his lungs but doctors say he is improving. I just wanted to head off any rumors that may be started. I’m sure he would want everyone to know that he appreciates all of the prayers being thrown up on his behalf!!!”

The former football player's son and daughter are said to be safe, according to the Daily Mail.

Former Cleveland Browns running back Chris Ogbonnaya pleaded, "Please keep former teammate Peyton Hillis in your thoughts and prayers."

Former NFL safety Ryan Clark reacted by saying, "Man, just learned the news of Peyton Hillis. What a hero he is. Saving his kids from drowning is something fathers get. He risked his life for his babies. Man I pray he finds a way back to his family. He deserves to see them grow."

Joey Kinsley, the social media star known as "Sir Yacht," wrote on Twitter, "Peyton Hillis is a super good dude. An absolute goofball and I mean that in the best way possible. He is a hero for saving his kids from drowning today. I'm praying hard for him and I hope he has a safe and fast recovery."

Hillis was a standout fullback at the University of Arkansas, racking up 2,154 total yards and 23 touchdowns between 2004 and 2007.

Hillis was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2008 NFL draft. Hillis played seven seasons in the NFL with the Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and New York Giants. Hillis was featured on the cover of "Madden NFL 12" in 2011. Hillis retired in 2015 after doctors urged him to stop playing football because of his history of concussions. Hillis finished his NFL career with 3,882 total yards and 26 touchdowns.

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