Updated: 10/14/2013 7:35 AM
Created: 10/13/2013 9:27 AM KSTP.com
By: Leslie Dyste
Adrian Peterson says he never wavered in his decision to play against the Carolina Panthers, two days after his 2-year-old son died in an alleged case of child abuse.
Peterson rushed for 62 yards on 10 carries in the Minnesota Vikings' 35-10 loss to the Panthers on Sunday. He says he doesn't expect others to understand why he decided to play. He says getting on the field helped him cope.
Peterson declined to talk about the relationship he had with the boy. He went to see the boy in a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital Thursday. The mother's boyfriend, Joseph Patterson, is charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Peterson says he can't describe what it's been like to go through the situation.
Peterson is no stranger to serious tragedy and says football has always helped him through. When he was 7, he saw his older brother die in a bike accident when he was hit by a drunken driver.
For Peterson's teenage years, his father was in prison. He grew up poor in east Texas. Shortly before the Minnesota Vikings drafted him in 2007, his half-brother, was shot and killed.
Peterson said he would depend on the sport this weekend to help get him through his most recent family tragedy.
The NFL is a fraternity of brothers and I am thankful for the tweets, phone calls and text messages from my fellow players.— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) October 11, 2013
On Saturday night, fans gathered outside the Metrodome to honor Peterson's son as the family continues to grieve.
Michele Buchheit, who helped organize Saturday’s event said, "If we can raise awareness and save one more 2-year-old, or 5-year-old or grown woman--people out there that will support you and help you even though they don't know you."
The 2-year-old boy died Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after suffering severe head injuries police say are consistent with abuse.
The boy did not carry Peterson's name. Peterson has another son, Adrian Jr., who lives with him, he confirmed on Twitter on Saturday in attempt to clarify his family situation.
My son Adrian Jr. who lives w/me is healthy. Appreciate the concern. We respectfully ask to stop tweeting his pics.— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) October 12, 2013
Peterson missed practice Thursday to be in Sioux Falls, where the boy lived with his mother and Patterson. Peterson returned to the Vikings on Friday.
"Things that I go through, I've said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level," he said after practice, about an hour after the child's death. "I'm able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, so that's what I plan on doing."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.