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NFL Star Charged With Child Abuse

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 28:  Running back Adrian Peterson  #28 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on August 28, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)
Photograph by Getty Images

Until recently, when you'd see Adrian Peterson's name in the papers, it usually had something to do with his glittering football career. The star running back plays for the Minnesota Vikings, and is best known to fans for his speed on the field and record-breaking plays.

But on the morning of September 13, the pro football player headed to a Houston police station and turned himself in to authorities after he being charged with child abuse. The previous day, a grand jury—which had been looking into the case for some time—indicted 29-year-old Peterson after he'd violently disciplined his 4-year-old son with what was described as "a switch." That "switch" turned out to be a tree branch, that Peterson himself had removed the leaves on before hitting his son for pushing another sibling.

In Texas, "parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit," Montgomery County first assistant district attorney Phil Grant told ESPN. "Except when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable."

Naturally, Peterson's punishments didn't fall within what is considered "reasonable."

"This indictment follows Adrian's full cooperation with authorities who have been looking into this matter. Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son," Peterson's lawyer Rusty Hardin said in a statement. "He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened."

Though the footballer was booked early Saturday, he was later released on $15,000 bail and now awaits a formal trial. If convicted, he could serve up to two years in jail.

Tragically, though, this isn't the only sad story to swirl around the Peterson family in the last year. In October 2013, his 2-year-old son died in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after he was allegedly assaulted by his mother's boyfriend. In a strange twist, Peterson had only known about his paternity for two months prior to the boy's death. Following an investigation, Joseph Robert Patterson was charged with murder and manslaughter.

ESPN sat down with Peterson for an interview after the toddler's death, where the football player revealed some of his feelings on the matter.

"It's just made me stop taking things for granted," he said. "Life is short. You never know. You just want to take advantage of the time you do have."

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