Two-Year-Old Son of Adrian Peterson Dies After Alleged Assault

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson

The 2-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson has died as the result of injuries sustained in an alleged beating in Sioux Falls, S.D., police have confirmed.

The child, whose name is being withheld due to a request by the family, was left alone with 27-year-old Joseph Robert Patterson, the boyfriend of the boy’s mother, police said.

The incident occurred on Wednesday evening at Patterson’s Platinum Valley apartment, where the boy and his mother lived.

Around 5:45 p.m. Patterson called 911 to report a choking.

By the time EMS arrived, the child was unresponsive and was rushed to Sanford USD Medical Center.

Authorities said that the nature of the young boy’s injuries, which included head trauma, determined this was no accident.

“We had detectives talk to quite a few people to try to figure out what happened,” police spokesperson Sam Clemens told USA Today. “What they ended up finding was that when the injuries happened there was one person with that child, and that person was Joseph Patterson.”

Patterson was arrested Thursday for aggravated assault and aggravated assault on an infant — two felonies — and is being held  at the Minnehaha County Jail.

The toddler’s mother is not under investigation.

Peterson missed practice Thursday to tend to a family emergency in South Dakota, where his son was in critical condition at a local hospital.

He returned to the Vikings’ headquarters in Winter Park for Friday’s practice and told the media that he did not wish to discuss the details of a “private matter.”

His father, Nelson Peterson, confirmed to the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the toddler that had been injured was Adrian’s son. He did not identify the boy, except to say that it was not Adrian Peterson Jr., who has accompanied his father to events, including last year’s NFL Honors show when Peterson was named league MVP.

“We are asking for prayers and for respect for our family as we deal with this tragic situation,” Peterson’s father said to the Pioneer Press.

Early Friday evening, Peterson learned his son had died.

He vowed to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. “Football is something I will always fall back on,” Peterson told reporters.

“It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that’s what I need in my life — guys supporting me…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 release a lot of stress through this sport, so that’s what I plan on doing.”

Peterson took to Twitter Friday evening to thank friends, family, teammates, and fans for their support.


Joseph Patterson has a history of domestic violence.

According to court documents obtained by USA Today, Patterson has a son with another Sioux Falls woman and she filed for protection orders against him on two occasions, claiming he choked her, punched her, threatened her with a knife, and held her in her bedroom against her will.

Documents also reveal that he beat her 3-year-old from a previous relationship.

In June of 2012, she said he spanked the child so hard for misbehaving in church that “he needed ice for welts on his buttocks,” the Argus Leader reported.

When she became upset with him for it, he “made the children go to their rooms, pulled the shades, grabbed her by the throat and waved his fist in her face.”

He relented when her infant son began to cry.

He was indicted on several counts of simple assault. He was also found to be in violation of those protection orders. He was given a one-year jail term in each case, but those sentences were suspended upon the condition that he attend counseling for domestic abuse.

On Friday, the Lincoln County prosecutor’s office filed motions ordering Patterson serve those two sentences.

Patterson now faces two felony charges and up to 40 years in prison with an $80,000 fine, but additional charges are possible now that the child has died.