Barry Sanders, a Hall of Fame running back and the greatest player to ever suit up for the Detroit Lions, is addressing his many fans regarding some concerning news about his health.

“To all my supporters, over Father's Day weekend, I experienced a health scare related to my heart,” he issued in a statement. “It was unexpected and served as a reminder of the importance of staying vigilant about our physical well-being, even when we are feeling fine.”

Lions fans have developed an affinity for Sanders that extends beyond his gridiron greatness. He is a Detroit institution who represents the value of plowing through sub-optimal circumstances and constant on-field adversity.

With a losing tradition and insufficient talent around him, the 1997 co-MVP (shared it with Brett Favre) had plenty working against him. In spite of the challenges and factors that were out of his control, he mesmerized fans and mystified defenses for 10 years. His work within the community cemented his status as a true Motor City hero.

As a result, people across the country are thinking of Barry Sanders in this moment, something he knows and appreciates.

“I am grateful for the amazing doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals for providing me with needed care,” the 10-time Pro Bowl selection said. “My family and I are thankful for your prayers and support during this time. Per my doctor's recommendation, I am taking this opportunity to prioritize my health and well-being. I appreciate your understanding and continued support.”

Barry Sanders' fan base continues to grow

Detroit Lions former running back Barry Sanders attends the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The release of the “Bye Bye Barry” documentary last November introduced Sanders to a whole new generation of football fans who only knew of his dominance from the stories their parents or grandparents told them. A couple months before that, he became the first Lions player to be honored with a statue outside Ford Field.

All of this is to say that Barry Sanders is a prominent figure for people of all ages. The legions of fans who celebrated No. 20 three decades ago, those who proudly support him now and the many who have followed him since he first donned the Honolulu blue jersey and silver helmet in 1989 are all praying for him to make a complete and swift recovery.

Sanders did not force his way off the Lions and try to join a team better equipped to reach and win Super Bowls. He fought for his teammates and Detroit until his final snap. Although the two-time Offensive Player of the Year retired at just the age of 31, he still has a highly compelling case as the greatest running back of all-time (ran for 1,400 yards or more seven times, averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored 99 touchdowns in career).

Simply put, Barry Sanders has shattered expectations and logic his whole life. While he did not go into detail about the specific heart issue he experienced last weekend, he will surely exhibit the same determination that defined him with the Lions.

True to form, the humble superstar is using his health situation to get other people thinking about their own. Hopefully, Sanders has good news to share with the public in the immediate future.