Former NFL player Peyton Hillis leaves hospital after helping save kids in the ocean

@angelacoleofficial via Instagram

Former NFL player Peyton Hillis has been discharged from the hospital, after helping two adults and two children who were "in distress" while swimming in the ocean.

"Peyton has been discharged from the hospital," Hillis' girlfriend Angela Cole wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of the former athlete flanked by his medical team at Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Fla. "The amount of love and gratitude I have for the incredible team that took care of Peyton is indescribable. This picture does not have anywhere near the amount of people who took such great care of him."

As Hillis recovered in the hospital, retired football player and NFL media analyst Ryan Clark praised him for being a “hero.”

“Saving his kids from drowning is something fathers get,” Clark tweeted. “He risked his life for his babies. Man I pray he finds a way back to his family. He deserves to see them grow.”

Addressing Hillis' doctors, Cole wrote: "You not only saved Peyton’s life, you made it a priority to make sure that his family and I were okay amidst your busy schedules. You all were so calming, answered every question numerous times kindly… and heck, even took care of me and made sure I was okay every night: got me hot tea for my throat, made sure I was sleeping and eating, gave me a friend to confide in... I mean, I am just in AWE."

Related: Former NFL player in critical condition after reportedly saving his children from drowning

To Hillis' supporters, Cole wrote, "And a huge thank you again for all of your prayers, love and support… God heard. And He answered."

Davis Wood, a public information and education officer for the Escambia County Department of Public Safety in Florida, tells that on Jan. 4, Escambia County Fire Rescue and Pensacola Beach Lifeguards responded to an emergency on the Gulf of Mexico in Pensacola.

"Our responders saw one adult swimmer who appeared to be in distress and we guided that swimmer (to shore)," says Wood. "This adult swimmer had provided assistance to four other people in distress, two adults and two children."

According to Wood, adults on shore needed medical attention; one was transported to a hospital via helicopter and the other taken by ground. The children did not require hospitalization, he adds.

Wood was unable to confirm to whether the children belonged to Hillis. The retired football player shares two kids with his ex-wife Amanda Hillis. reached out to Hillis’s family, but did not hear back at the time of publication.

On Jan. 11, Cole shared on Instagram that Hillis was taken off a ventilator and was "on the road to recovery."

"Please continue to pray ... he’s still got a ways ahead of him, but thank you for all of your prayers and love and support thus far," she wrote. "It truly makes all the difference. Today was a good day."

Hillis played for four NFL teams from 2008 to 2014, according to ESPN. With the Cleveland Browns in 2010 he ran for 1,177 yards on 270 carries and scored 11 touchdowns. Originally drafted by the Denver Broncos, Willis ended his NFL career with the New York Giants.

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