Police have confirmed that the 2-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has died. The news was first reported by the Star Tribune's Chip Scoggins.
The boy, whose name was not released per the family's request, was believed to have suffered injuries consistent with abuse. He was in critical care before passing away.
Joseph Patterson, 27, who police say was taking care of the child, has been arrested in connection with the death. Patterson was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery of an infant, and his bond was set for $750,000 prior to the child's death.
Peterson, who had visited the family on Thursday, returned to the team's facility Friday and issued a short statement prior to the announcement of the boy's passing.
"I should start off by saying I really appreciate all the support that I've been receiving from fans, the Vikings organization," Peterson said. "This is a private matter and I would ask you all to please just respect my privacy and not ask at all about the situation at hand. Thanks."
Nelson Peterson, Peterson's father, confirmed to the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the child was Adrian Peterson's son.
The alleged assault took place Wednesday evening when Sioux Falls police responded to a 911 call for a child who was choking. Officers found the unresponsive child and transported him to a nearby hospital. Doctors determined that the child’s injuries were consistent with abuse and that they were not accidental.
Patterson was arrested the night of the incident. The 2-year-old boy's mother was not at the apartment at the time of the incident, according to police. Local police did not release the names of the parents, citing that it was not part of their investigation.
This is merely the latest in a long line of personal tragedies that Peterson has endured. At the age of 8, Peterson witnessed his older brother being struck on his bicycle and being killed by a drunk driver. In high school, Peterson’s father was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a drug-related case. Peterson’s stepbrother was killed by a gunshot in Houston while Peterson was preparing for the NFL draft at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine.
Peterson also came back from a torn ACL in his knee suffered in December of 2011, only to lead the NFL rushing last season and threaten the NFL’s all-time rushing mark — coming up nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s record.
After the news of his son's death was made public, Peterson sent thanks via Twitter to his many supporters amid this tragedy.
Thank you to my family, my fans and fans of other teams for their support.— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) October 11, 2013
The NFL is a fraternity of brothers and I am thankful for the tweets, phone calls and text messages from my fellow players.— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) October 11, 2013
God Bless everyone and thank u so much.— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) October 11, 2013
Vikings teammate Toby Gerhart said he and the rest of the team had reached out with their support, per USA Today.
"We consider each other family and brothers. It's clichéd and everybody says, 'We've got each other's back' when we go on a football field, but when something like this happens, it's truly a testament of being a teammate and how tight this family is," Gerhart said. Head coach Leslie Frazier said the decision to play Sunday at home against the Carolina Panthers would be entirely up to Peterson.
"We'll see how things go with him," Frazier said. "We expect him to play, but this is a very personal situation that he's dealing with." Peterson said he planned to play, but it is not known if Peterson knew his son had died when he said that.