Damar Hamlin Speaks Publicly For First Time Since Cardiac Arrest: 'Can't Tell You How Appreciative I Am'
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Damar Hamlin is speaking out publicly for the first time since Jan. 2, when he suffered cardiac arrest during a game and collapsed in front of thousands of spectators.
The Buffalo Bills safety, 24, took to his Instagram account Saturday to post a video expressing his gratitude for all who helped to save his life during his frightening incident and assisted him on his path to recovery.
Looking in good health, Hamlin spoke directly to the camera: "As I continue to make so much progress recovering, I think it's finally a good time to share a few things," he began. "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."
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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," he continued. "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."
He went on to list a number of medical professionals by name, as well as shout out the medical professionals in both Cincinnati and Buffalo who helped in his recovery.
He also thanked his parents, "Who are literally my anchors and my everything, who never left my side the entire time," plus his little brother, other family members, teammates and friends...and not the least of all, the fans of his franchise, whom he praised as giving "110% support" for the team as a whole.
"Ever since I became a Buffalo Bill, it's been nothing but genuine love and support," he noted. "It really encouraged me, and helped me to get through the toughest moments."
He added that he was touched by the support from the city of Cincinnati and the entire NFL. "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."
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Hamlin was injured early in the first quarter of the Bills' Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals after making a tackle. The safety quickly popped back up, before suddenly collapsing. Medical personnel administered CPR to Hamlin and appeared to give him oxygen before the ambulance took him away.
After Hamlin's collapse, the city of Buffalo showed support for him in many ways, including lighting City Hall and the Niagara Falls Buffalo Bills colors and donating to Hamlin's Chasing M's Foundation community toy drive, which now has raised more than $7 million.