NFL Legend Barry Sanders Recovering After ‘Unexpected’ Heart-Related Health Scare: ‘I Am Grateful’

"I am taking this opportunity to prioritize my health and well-being,” the 1997 NFL MVP said in a statement

<p>Gregory Shamus/Getty</p> Barry Sanders in January 2024

Gregory Shamus/Getty

Barry Sanders in January 2024

Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders is recovering after experiencing what he called an “unexpected” health scare related to his heart earlier this month.

Sanders, 55, posted a statement to X (formerly known as Twitter) on Friday, June 21, updating fans about his condition.

“Over Father’s Day weekend, I experienced a health scare related to my heart,” Sanders wrote. “It was unexpected and served as a reminder of the importance of staying vigilant about our physical well-being, even when we are feeling fine.”

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Sanders, who spent all 10 of his NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions, tagged the Lions and his alma mater, Oklahoma State University, in his post explaining the health update.

“I am grateful for the amazing doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals for providing me with needed care,” he wrote. “My family and I are thankful for your prayers and support during this time.”

Sanders added, “Per my doctors’ recommendation, I am taking this opportunity to prioritize my health and well-being,” and thanked his fans again for their support.

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<p>Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty</p> Barry Sanders in February 2024

Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty

Barry Sanders in February 2024

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Sanders began playing football at a young age and often imitated his favorite running backs as a child. Sanders didn’t play running back until four games into his senior year of high school, however, rushing for 1,400 yards and catching the attention of Oklahoma State.

Sanders won the Heisman Trophy with Oklahoma State in 1988 and would later be drafted by the Lions, making the Pro Bowl all 10 seasons of his professional playing career. He was named the 1997 NFL MVP and led the league in rushing on four separate occasions before retiring after the 1998 season.

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<p>Focus on Sport/Getty</p> Barry Sanders in December 1989

Focus on Sport/Getty

Barry Sanders in December 1989

The NFL named Sanders to its NFL 100 Team and called him “one of the greatest running backs of all-time” and one of “the most unique and electrifying players in NFL history.” Sanders was inducted into the Pro Hall of Fame in 2004.

Sanders has four sons: his oldest son, Barry J. Sanders, with ex-girlfriend Aletha House, and his three youngest sons, Nigel, Nic and Noah, from his marriage with former Detroit area news anchor Lauren Campbell Sanders.

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