EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Two months ago, around the time the Minnesota Vikings were losing their second preseason game, Adrian Peterson was given some surprising news.
The star running back says he found out then he had a 2-year-old son living in Sioux Falls, S.D., named Tyrese Robert Ruffin. He had been working with Tyrese's mother to arrange a meeting with the boy when he received a call last week that the child was in the hospital with severe injuries.
Peterson raced to South Dakota last Thursday, where he saw little Tyrese for the first time. The boy died a day later in an alleged case of child abuse, and Peterson has been trying to come to grips with it ever since.
Peterson attended Tyrese's funeral Wednesday and returned to Minnesota for practice on Thursday. His voice wavered when he discussed Tyrese publicly for the first time, trying to grapple with mourning the death of a son he never got to know.
"I was planning on seeing him. I had a talk with his mom and we got some things together as far as financially helping her," Peterson said. "Unfortunately, this situation took place. It's devastating."
A man the boy's mother was dating, 27-year-old Joseph Patterson, is being held on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Tyrese died after Patterson was arrested, and prosecutors plan to convene a grand jury to consider more serious charges.
"It was a difficult day, just taking in the circumstance and the whole situation," Peterson said of the funeral. "A child was buried. That's difficult for anyone."
Peterson played against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, rushing for 62 yards on 10 carries in a 35-10 loss, and he plans to play against the New York Giants on Monday night. It's been a theme for Peterson for nearly his entire life — football has been a refuge in difficult times ever since he was a youth.
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