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“I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of all the love, all the support, and everything that’s just been coming in my way,” Hamlin said.
Damar Hamlin expressed gratitude for his family, doctors, teammates, and supporters during his first public address since collapsing from cardiac arrest during Monday Night Football earlier in January.
The second-year Buffalo Bills safety, 24, shared a five-minute video across social media platforms on Saturday. He said he’d been waiting for the right time to post the video, captioned “From the Heart,” amid his recovery.
“As I continue to make so much progress recovering, I think it’s finally a good time to share a few things,” Hamlin said. “I think it was important for me to wait and speak publicly at the right time, as it was just a lot to process within my own self. Mentally, physically, even spiritually.”
He continued: “I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of all the love, all the support, and everything that’s just been coming in my way.”
In a nationally televised game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2, Hamlin’s heart suddenly stopped beating on the field, a condition known as cardiac arrest, after what appeared to be a routine tackle.
Medical professionals performed nearly 10 minutes of CPR on the field, before Hamlin was rushed to the University of Cincinnati medical center, where he remained in critical condition for several days before being released on Jan. 11.
“What happened to me on Monday Night Football I feel is a direct example of God using me as a vessel to share my passion and my love directly from my heart with the entire world,” Hamlin said.
He added that it had always been his dream to inspire “kids and communities around the world who need it the most.”
The defensive standout’s Chasing M’s Foundation, which has received millions in donations since his injury, funds school supplies, toys and camps for children.
Hamlin thanked a long list of people who helped save his life and support him through his recovery journey, beginning with several members of the Bills training, athletic and medical staff, as well as staff at the University of Cincinnati Medical center and Buffalo General Hospital.
He then thanked family and loved ones, including his mom and dad, who he called “my anchors and my everything, who never left my side the entire time,” and his younger brother, who he said is “my why, my reason why I strive to be my best self everyday.”
Hamlin shouted out the Bills fanbase, known as “Bills Mafia,” for their “genuine love and support,” sharing that “it really encouraged me, and helped me to get through the toughest moments.”
“To the entire Bills organization and my brothers who made it a priority to lift me up spiritually, mentally, and every way possible. Reaching out every day, seeing how I was doing, calling, texting…I’m proud to be a part of this team. I’m proud to be able to call you guys my brothers,” he added.
Hamlin was sure to thank the city of Cincinnati for its outpouring of concern for his well-being despite him playing for the opposing team.
“Just to put team allegiance aside, to root for one kid’s life and just the humanity of a player that’s wearing Buffalo blue, to put humanity above team loyalty, you showed the world unity over division,” Hamlin said.
He additionally thanked all the children who sent him letters and “heartwarming” gifts, and everyone who donated to the Chasing M’s Foundation, adding that it’s always been important to him to be a role model.
“This is just the beginning of the impact that I wanted to have on the world,” Hamlin said. “And with God’s guidance, I will continue to do wonderful and great things.”
“I couldn’t do this without any of the support and the love and I can’t wait to continue to take y’all on this journey with me,” he concluded, before flashing his signature heart sign.
theGrio’s Dr. Shamard Charles contributed to this report.
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