NFL's reigning MVP player Adrian Peterson, who is an outspoken Christian, never wavered in his decision to play Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers even after finding out the death of his son, who died Friday afternoon after suffering multiple head injuries from a severe beating by a man dating the boy's mother.
Peterson, who is last season's MVP and has the second highest completed yards this season, released a statement in a text message sent to FOXSports sideline reporter Laura Okmin prior to the game that he believes "God wants good to come from it ... we mourn and grieve but heaven had the baddest welcoming party for my son. That knowledge gives me peace."
The Christian NFL player is all too familiar with tragedies. His older brother Brian died in a bicycle accident after he was struck by a drunk driver when Peterson was 7. At 13, his dad Nelson was sent to prison for money-laundering from drug profits and spent eight years there. In 2007, the night before the NFL Combine, Peterson's half-brother Chris Paris was shot and killed in Houston, but Peterson still participated in the combine.
"I'm still hurt and feel the pain of life, but I'm able to function because of the peace and joy of knowing my loved ones are in a much better place," he said.
Peterson's son died Friday afternoon, police in Sioux Falls, South Dakota confirmed to NFL Media. The 2-year-old suffered from multiple head injuries from the hands of 27-year-old Joseph Roberts Patterson who was dating the boy's mother. Patterson has been charged and a judge has set a $75,000 bond, the Argus Leader reported.
While the reigning MVP had completed 421 yards - second in the league - this season, Peterson posted a season-lows in carries (10) and overall touches (13) in Sunday's game. He ran for 62 yards and caught three passes for 21 yards as the Vikings were blown out by the Panthers, 35-10.
After the game, Peterson further declined to comment about the extend of his relationship with the son, the USA Today reported. "We just blown out (by 24) points, so let's focus on football and what the Minnesota Vikings can do better."
However, he did further elaborate on his text message statement that reads "My brother passed the night before the combine and I decided to go through with it. The same reason why I will play this week."
"I was set on it," he said, according to The Associated Press, adding that he always try to see the good behind the bad. "That's the way I approach life in all situations. I never thought about not playing. It was all about just out there and praying that I have strength to get through and help my team. That was my focus."
On the death of his son, Peterson said, according to The Associated Press, "It's tough. It's a crazy situation. Anytime you lose a child, no matter the circumstances, it hurts. I can't describe it. But I've got a good supporting cast surrounding me."
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier also said, "There are a lot of people trying to support him within the organization, his teammates as well, but I think for the most part he's handled it well. It's tough, really tough."
Meanwhile, Panthers safety Mike Mitchell spoke with Peterson during the game and mentioned the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11, which reads: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
"I told him to keep that in his heart as he continues to take this challenge going forward," Mitchell told AP.
Prior to the game, Peterson said that football, the "fraternity of brothers," is what he always fall back on, for it gets him through tough times. Also, the difficulties in his life, he said, helps him play football, the game that he loves, "to a different level." Also, this sport allows him to release much of his stress.
Twitter has been filled with condolences for Peterson and his family. Sports players, including LeBron James in NBA, Barry Sanders, Josh Groban, his opponents and fans have all expressed their support.
New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, whose team plays the Vikings on October 21, tweeted, "Praying for you and your family. May God give you the strength."
Peterson said in an interview with "The 700 Club" that God has always been present through all the adversity and hard times he's been through.
"I've always prayed to Him and asked Him to give me the strength to endure and to help others and to better understand the situation, or whatever situation I deal with in my personal life," he said. "And He has always showed up!"