Ex-NFL Star Talks about Saving Son & Niece from Drowning in Ocean: ‘I’m Not a Hero, I Call Myself a Dad’

Former NFL running back Peyton Hillis, who almost died saving his son and niece from a rip current while swimming at a Florida beach earlier this year, has broken his silence in a new interview.

Hillis sat down with ABC News after being hospitalized from nearly drowning while rescuing the young children in early January.

As Slay News reported, Hillis was in the ICU on a ventilator after suffering damage to his lungs and kidneys.

“It is 100% a miracle that somebody didn’t die,” Hillis told ABC.

“We woke up and the kids were all going crazy, and I was telling my family, ‘I’m gonna take the kids down, you know, let ’em play at the beach.’

“The night before it was a bad storm, but you know, I didn’t really pay too much attention to it and when I woke up the next morning it was windy but it was beautiful.

“I hear my mom screaming and so, I looked at her and she pointed out to my son, and she says, ‘Orry and Camilla are drowning.’

“And so, I didn’t even think, I reacted and started running into the water.

“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.

“And so what happened … I swam past my son, and I got to Camille, and she starts freakin’ out, you know, ‘We’re gonna die, we’re gonna die.’”

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Hillis said he put his niece on a boogie board and pushed her to safety, but by the time he reached his son he was “pretty much limp.”

He continued:

“He didn’t have any more strength in him to swim and I’m sitting there holding him.

“You can’t swim and you’re holding him, you’re seeing his eyes roll back in the back of his head.

“Lord, please. Like, I really don’t care about my life.

“I don’t. But if we can get him out of here that’s the only thing I’m going to care about.

“I don’t think my lungs will ever get back to where they needed to be.

“Physically, it’s comin’ along okay.

“Mentally things are coming along a lot slower.

“I’m just tryin’ to take it one day at a time.

“It’s very dangerous to just let your kids go out there and swim, especially without life jackets.

“If you’re not here for your loved ones, or your family, or your friends, why are you here?”

He said don’t call him a hero, however.

“I call myself a dad,” he said.

READ MORE: Family Gives Positive Update on NFL Star Peyton Hillis Who Saved Kids from Drowning: ‘God Is So Good’

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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