Ex-NFL Star Peyton Hillis Says He 'Should Make a 100% Recovery' After Nearly Drowning Saving His Kids

Speaking out for the first time about the Jan. 4 incident in Pensacola, Fla., the former NFL athlete gave an update on his recovery via Twitter on Tuesday

Peyton Hillis attends "A League Of Their Own" event at Geena Davis' 2nd Annual Bentonville Film Festival
Photo: Ernesto Di Stefano Photography/Getty Images

Peyton Hillis is giving a health update for the first time after he nearly drowned last month while saving his kids.

The former NFL player, who spent two weeks in the hospital, said he should make a full recovery.

"I left the hospital with no worries and concerns and should make a 100% recovery," Hillis, 37, wrote Tuesday in a statement on his Twitter page. "I'm a very lucky and blessed man."

Hillis thanked his family and the Baptist Hospital staff in Pensacola, Fla. where the accident occurred, explaining that he hasn't taken interviews "because I'd like to keep my family out of the public eye," during this "traumatic time" in their lives.

"But I did want to come on here and show my appreciation for everyone who helped save my life and for all of your prayers and love and support," he added.

PEOPLE reached out to Peyton Hillis and his family members for a further update but did not immediately receive a response.

While in the hospital, the former NFL athlete received a visit from football legend Emmitt Smith who updated fans on the heroic dad-of-two just two days before he was released from the hospital.

Stay strong Peyton! Praying for you, your family and wishing you a speedy recovery
Emmitt Smith Instagram

"I had the opportunity to visit a recovering hero this week, Peyton Hillis," Smith wrote on Jan. 17. "Stay strong Peyton! Praying for you, your family and wishing you a speedy recovery🙏🏿"

Hillis was discharged two days later, according to a post from his sister, Haley Davis, on Facebook.

Hillis had been in the hospital since Jan. 4, when he was taken by helicopter and placed on a ventilator in the ICU after saving his kids in Pensacola, Florida. He was initially unconscious, but taken off the ventilator a week later.

Davis had also jumped in the water to help that day and had to go to the hospital in an ambulance before getting released.

In her update on Jan.. 19, Davis said that "everything health-wise is looking good and has all improved" for Hillis and called his progress "truly a miracle."

Davis said that her family's "lives were rocked" after Hillis was helicoptered to the hospital. She recalled seeing her brother "laid out on the sand unable to move" while her mom ran "back and forth" between their children as medics treated them.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis
Icon Sportswire via AP Images

Shortly after the incident in early January, another family member stated that Hillis' health was improving, but that he was still unconscious at that time. It was reported that his kids were safe and out of harm's way.

"I just wanted to let everyone know on Razorback Nation that Peyton is doing better," Peyton's uncle, Greg Hillis, wrote on Jan. 5 via his Facebook page.

"He's still in intensive care and having some problems with his kidneys and his lungs but the doctors say he is improving."

"I just wanted to head off any rumors that may be started," Greg continued. "I'm sure he would want everyone to know that he appreciates all of the prayers thrown up on his behalf!!!"

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis
Icon Sportswire via AP Images

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The former football star, who played for the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants from 2008 to 2014, still closely follows the sport. The Arkansas native came out with a podcast called In the Backfield, using his expert knowledge of the sport for commentary. Admitting that his favorite team is the Cleveland Browns, who he played for "in the backfield" from 2010-2011, Hillis told WKYC Channel 3 in 2020 about his love for the franchise and what it feels like "to be a Brown."

As far as his personal life goes, Hillis is reportedly dating actress Angela Cole, his co-star from the indie thriller The Hunting, and shares his two children with his ex-wife Amanda Hillis.

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