Adrian Peterson donating $100K to flood-relief efforts in hometown

ByBen Goessling ESPN logo
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is donating more than $100,000 to relief efforts in his hometown of Palestine, Texas, after flash flooding destroyed dozens of houses and killed six people there over the weekend.

Peterson is partnering with the Salvation Army and will travel to Palestine on Thursday to survey the damage. He said he will make an initial donation of $100,000 and then match donations from there.

"If people put $200,000 in there, I'll match it," he told

The flooding shocked the town of roughly 19,000, which Peterson said hasn't been prone to floods in the past.

"My mom is over 50, and in her lifespan she's never seen a flood in Palestine," Peterson said. "That's what was so unusual about it. We've never had an issue with flooding. We've had heavy rains for days at a time, but nothing to this magnitude. For this to hit overnight, and the damage that it caused, it was devastating."

Peterson said his family is fine but that some of his friends have been affected.

Torrential rains caused Wells Creek to rise rapidly Friday night, totaling homes and leaving debris strewn across the town from the storm. Lenda Asberry died while trying to save her four great-grandchildren during the flood, her family told WFAA-TV in Dallas.

"[As a kid], I literally walked to go down there and kick it with my classmates; I'd play with the kids right [near the house] where the grandmother and the four kids have passed," Peterson told

The sixth victim, Giovanni Oliva, played football with Peterson in high school.

"I've been knowing him since elementary school," Peterson said. "It hit me hard, especially being my hometown, knowing the Asberry family, the tragic loss of those kids.

"A lot of the people that have worked so hard to maintain their businesses, they're hit with this. In Old Town Palestine, every year when I have my festival, there's a lady that always gives me pecan pies, sweet potato pies, and I know she was affected by it as well.

"It hits home a lot harder when you can physically -- without being there -- physically see the damage that was caused."

Peterson, the 2012 NFL MVP, became a prep star in east Texas and went toOklahomaas the No. 1 recruit in the country in 2003. He now makes his home outside Houston in the offseason, but is still a fixture in his hometown. The town holds an "Adrian Peterson Day" eachsummer. In addition to honoring his accomplishments on the football field, the event includes an annual focus on some aspect of community growth, including education and public health awareness.

This year's celebration is slated for June 18, and Peterson said flood response and preparedness efforts will be a major part of it.

"No one ever thought this was going to happen," he said. "We're working on seeing how we can help the cause even more and give out more. I want a lot to be done, so when it does come, we're able to do the little things to help.

"Living there for so many years, you'd think, 'Why would you ever need flood insurance?' And you come back, and you're like, 'Dang.'"

Peterson, who has been training near Houston this offseason and opened a gym in the area, said he wasn't sure when he would join the Vikings for their offseason workout program, but added it will be "hopefully here soon."