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PENSACOLA, Fla. – Former NFL running back Peyton Hillis was taken off a ventilator and is “on the road to recovery” after rescuing his children from drowning in the Gulf of Mexico last week, his girlfriend wrote on social media on Thursday.

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Hillis, 36, a seven-year NFL veteran who played for the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs from 2008 to 2014, pulled four people, including his children, from the water at Pensacola Beach on Wednesday, WEAR-TV reported.

First responders then rescued the former University of Arkansas player from the water and he was airlifted to an area hospital.

Hillis’ girlfriend, singer-songwriter Angela Cole, posted an update on her Instagram account.

“A hero,” Cole wrote. “So proud of this man and so incredibly grateful for family and this incredible hospital. Peyton is off the ventilator and is on the road to recovery. Please continue to pray for he’s still got a ways ahead of him, but thank you for all of your prayers and love and support thus far. It truly makes all the difference. Today was a good day.”

Hillis’ sister, Hayley Davis, echoed Cole’s update on her own Facebook page on Wednesday.

“I just wanted to update everyone that Peyton is off the ventilator and is doing great,” Davis posted. “God has truly blessed us and we couldn’t be more thankful.”

Hillis’ uncle, Greg Hillis, also wrote in a Facebook post that Davis was “also a hero in the water alongside Peyton.”

Hillis shares two children with his ex-wife, Amanda Hillis, People reported.