A two-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings running Adrian Peterson died in South Dakota on Friday, according to the Argus Leader and various media reports. Citing information from Sioux Falls police, NFL.com reported that the 2-year-old boy died from injuries suffered during an alleged aggravated assault earlier this week.
Sioux Falls police just confirmed to NFL Media that Adrian Peterson’s son has passed away.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 11, 2013
The 2-year-old son of Vikings RB Adrian Peterson died Friday after allegedly being assaulted.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 11, 2013
The Sioux Falls Police Department will announce the name of the boy next week, reported the Argus Leader. Although authorities withheld the victim's name from their statement, an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation informed The Associated that the boy was Peterson's son.
The father of the reigning NFL MVP had confirmed earlier in the day that the child had been hospitalized in critical condition. The 28-year-old running back addressed the media after a Minnesota Vikings practice on Friday afternoon but declined to discuss the situation.
"I really appreciate all the support from fans and the Vikings," said Peterson, who indicated he planned to play in the Vikings' upcoming game. "I ask y'all to respect my privacy."
Peterson was previously excused from practice to attend to a personal matter on Thursday. A source close to the star running back described the situation as "tragic" to ProFootballTalk. Stu Whitney of the Argus Leader reported Thursday via Twitter that Peterson was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota “dealing with medical issue involving young family member that likely will be a police matter."
On Friday, TMZ first reported that Peterson's son was in critical condition after being allegedly beaten by 27-year-old Joseph Patterson, a man dating the mother. Patterson was arrested and charged with aggravated felony assault and battery of an infant, according to TMZ.
The Argus Leader reported that Patterson had been charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery on an infant. Bond was set at $750,000.
Sioux Falls Police and an EMS crew responded to an emergency call at an apartment on Wednesday where a child was found unresponsive, according to a police statement obtained by ESPN. At the hospital, police became aware of "injuries that were consistent with abuse," reported KSFY-ABC.
Earlier on Friday, the Sioux Falls Police Department addressed the arrest of Patterson but refused to confirm that Peterson was the father of the injured child.
“At this point, we're not going to confirm anything," Sioux Falls Police Department spokesman Sam Clemens said, via the Argus Leader. "Who the father is does not come into play in this investigation, so we’re not going to be releasing any information as far as that goes."
The Sioux Falls Police Department later issued a statement confirming that the child had died.
This afternoon the Police Department learned the two-year-old boy died from injuries sustained during the aggravated assault on Wednesday, October 9. At this time, the victim’s name is being withheld out of respect for the family and to give them time to make notification. His name will be released early next week.
Nelson Peterson, Adrian's father, confirmed to the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Star Tribune that a son of the NFL star had been hospitalized in critical condition. He did not provide any further details.
"All I can say is, we are asking for prayers and for respect for our family as we deal with this tragic situation," Nelson Peterson told the Pioneer Press.
While addressing the media on Friday afternoon, Peterson talked about the way in which his return to the team was helping him cope.
"You know, football is something I will always fall back on. It gets me through tough times," he said. "Just being around the guys in here, that's what I need in my life, guys supporting me and just being able to go out and play this game I love. Things that I go through, I've said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level. I'm able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, so that's what I plan on doing."
MORE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson mourned the death of his young son Friday, while words of support poured in from all corners of the sports world.
Authorities said a 2-year-old boy died Friday of injuries suffered in an alleged child abuse case in South Dakota, and a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press the boy was Peterson's son.
Lincoln County State's Attorney Tom Wollman confirmed the death of the child, who had been in critical condition in a hospital with severe head injuries since Wednesday. The boy died at 11:43 a.m. at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls after being removed from life support, Wollman said.
Wollman said he'll review police and medical reports before making further decisions about criminal charges, possibly by early next week. Joseph Patterson, 27, was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery in the child's death. He had a court appearance Friday and was ordered held on $750,000 cash bond.
Peterson declined to talk about the case after practice Friday, and prosecutors and police in South Dakota declined to confirm the boy was his son. However, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the connection to the AP on condition of anonymity because Peterson had requested privacy.
Speaking to reporters about an hour after the time of death, Peterson said he was certain he'll play Sunday against Carolina.
He smiled politely and spoke softly while taking questions at his locker.
"I'll be ready to roll, focused," Peterson said. "I will be playing Sunday, without a doubt."
Peterson is second in the NFL with 421 yards rushing and first in the league with five touchdowns. He came back from reconstructive knee surgery to rush for 2,097 yards and win the league MVP award last season.
"Football is something I will always fall back on," Peterson said. "It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that's what I need in my life, guys supporting me. ... Things that I go through, I've said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level. I'm able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, so that's what I plan on doing."
Later Friday, after news of the boy's death spread, Peterson thanked his family, fans and even fans of other NFL teams for their support.
He tweeted: "The NFL is a fraternity of brothers and I am thankful for the tweets, phone calls and text messages from my fellow players."
Dozens of current and former professional athletes wished Peterson well on Twitter, expressing support, offering prayers and voicing disgust about the alleged abuse.
"Sick for my friend. Strong guy but this one will bring the strongest down," tweeted NBA star LeBron James.
The Panthers, this week's opponent, were sympathetic.
"It's absolutely terrible. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family, and hopefully things work out," coach Ron Rivera said.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he thought Peterson practiced as well as he could Friday considering the circumstance.
"He seems like he was into it, engaged in what he had to get done," Frazier said. "Obviously, tough. He's human. But he was into it mentally, best as he could be."
Fellow running back Toby Gerhart said: "It's hard for any man to admit that he's hurting or he needs help or anything like that. For us to be around him and tell him we've got his back, if there's anything he needs that we're there for him, I think that goes a long way."