Running back Adrian Peterson rejoined the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday after missing practice to attend the funeral for his two-year-old son, describing the situation as "devastating."
Peterson was in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Wednesday for the private service for the boy, who died last week in an alleged case of child abuse. Peterson said he didn't know the child was his until about two months ago and had been working with the boy's mother to support the family financially and meet the boy, whose name was Tyrese Robert Ruffin.
'It was a difficult day. ... A child was buried. That's difficult for anyone.' - Vikings RB Adrian Peterson after his 2-year-old son's funeral
"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 Thursday before practice, discussing details about his son for the first time. "Unfortunately, this situation took place. It's devastating."
Peterson saw Tyrese for the first time when he visited the boy in the hospital last Thursday; he died the next day.
"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."
A man the mother was dating, 27-year-old Joseph Patterson, is being held on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Tyrese died of severe head injuries after Patterson was arrested, and prosecutors plan to convene a grand jury to consider more serious charges.
Peterson played against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday and he plans to play against the New York Giants on Monday night.
Peterson's 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. It wasn't until two months ago that Tyrese's mother approached the star running back with the possibility that the boy was his.
"A lot of people won't ever understand the situation that I'm in and see it the way I'm seeing the situation," he said. "It's tough, but I'm able to deal with that and got a good supporting cast around me that's been supporting me through this tough time."
Peterson thanked his teammates and the Vikings organization for their support.
"They've been great, organization, teammates, they've been supporting me as well," he said. "I can't tell you how many calls I've gotten and texts from the guys up top in the organization and players just making sure that I'm Ok and I'm doing well."
He has always prided himself on finding the positivity even in the darkest of times — and now he finds himself searching again.
"I'm standing strong, man. I am," Peterson said. "My main focus has been on my son and their family down there in Sioux Falls. Just trying to wrap my head around things and trying to stay focused and play ball as well. So things have been tough, but I can handle a lot. I'm built for anything that comes my way. This right here will pass."
Peterson said he has been in touch with authorities in South Dakota to stay on top of the proceedings and didn't expect to miss any more time this season to deal with the situation.
"I have the contacts that I need to be able to stay involved as far as the investigation," he said.