EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- 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. Peterson's father, Nelson, confirmed to the Minneapolis Star Tribune by phone that the child is Adrian's son..
Peterson smiled politely and spoke softly while taking questions at his locker and asking for privacy Friday afternoon.
"I really appreciate all the support that I've been receiving from fans, the Vikings organization," the MVP running back said at a brief press conference. "This is a private matter and I would ask you all to please just respect my privacy and not ask at all about the situation at hand. Thanks."
Peterson indicated he would play this weekend against the Carolina Panthers.
"I'll be ready to roll, focused," he said. "I will be playing Sunday, without a doubt."
Lincoln County prosecutor 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 Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls after being removed from life support, Wollman said.
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. Wollman said he'll review police and medical reports before making further decisions about criminal charges, possibly by early next week.
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 last season to rush for 2,097 yards and win the league MVP award.
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.
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."
Peterson described his mindset returning to work on Friday.
"Football is something I will always fall back on," he 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 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."
Peterson has dealt with tragedy at different times in his life. At age 8, he witnessed his older brother being struck and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike.
As a teenager, Peterson's father was sentenced to 10 years in prison for laundering drug money. Peterson's stepbrother was shot and killed in Houston the night before Peterson worked out at the NFL Combine coming out of college.
"One thing I always bounce back to is that the good Lord never gives you more than you can bear, than you can handle," Peterson said Friday. "So I'm built tough."
Frazier said Peterson had a "difficult day" and left open the possibility that won't play Sunday.
"He has our prayers and support from this football team, from this organization as he's dealing with a personal matter," Frazier said. "We'll see how things go with him. We expect him to play, but this is a very personal situation that he's dealing with. We'll talk to him in the next 24 hours."