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PENSACOLA, Florida (WJW) – Former Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis remains hospitalized after a swimming incident this week.

Relatives took to social media, saying Hillis is still in an intensive care unit at a Florida hospital. He’s still having some problems with his kidneys and his lungs, but the doctors say he is improving.

According to reports, Hillis was flown to the hospital on Wednesday after a 911 call to Escambia County Fire Rescue about four people who were in distress in the water off of Pensacola Beach.

“Upon arrival of the lifeguards and Escambia County Fire Rescue, we noticed one swimmer that was in distress,” said Escambia County Public Safety PIO Davis Wood.

Wood said two lifeguards and a firefighter equipped with a jet ski went into the water to recover the swimmer in distress.

They learned that the swimmer had actually went in to help four other swimmers in distress, consisting of two adults and two children.

“The person who provided assistance went back into the water because they were of the understanding that there was a fifth person involved,” Wood said. “That ended up not being the case, but they were in the water when EMS, lifeguards and the fire rescue arrived.”

Hillis endeared himself to Browns fans during the 2010 season, considered a breakout year for the young running back when he ran for more than 1,000 yards. He remained with the Browns during the 2011 season, but he did not have the same success.

He was chosen as the NFL player for the Madden 2012 video game cover.

Hillis later played for the Kansas City Chiefs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants.

Escambia County Public Safety says rip currents were a concern along their eight miles of Gulf Coast beaches on Wednesday.

“The rip currents were active that day and whether you are the strongest swimmer or the weakest swimmer, rip currents can affect anybody and they can really get you before you realize it,” Wood said. “You think you are 20 feet offshore and the next thing you know, you are 20 yards. Next thing you know, you are 50 yards offshore and a rip current can really wear down even the strongest swimmer,” said Wood.

Wood confirms that lifeguards patrol the beach 365 days a year, but indicates that their lifeguards responded after a 911 call made by a bystander on Wednesday.

Although he could not say Hillis was the individual who they rescued, Wood did say he was familiar with the former running back and it would not surprise him at all that Hillis would have risked his own life to safe others.

“My understanding of Peyton Hillis is that he is a wonderful person. He is a man who looks out for his family, his friends and certainly was beloved by the city of Cleveland, especially during his breakout year when he ended up on the cover of Madden,” Wood said.

On social media, Hillis uncle, Greg Hillis, posted, “I’m sure he would want everyone to know that he appreciates all of the prayers being thrown up on his behalf!!!”