Damar Hamlin brought the audience to tears at the 12th Annual NFL Honors.
On Thursday night, the 12th Annual NFL Honors ceremony awarded some of the league’s top players and coaching staff, but the evening also paid tribute to a very special group of people outside of the NFL – the first responders and medical staff who saved the life of Damar Hamlin.
The 24-year-old safety for the Buffalo Bills suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2 of this year. Damar received CPR on the field, before being transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where it was reported he was in critical condition. Damar woke up from a medically-induced coma two days later, on January 4, and returned home on January 11. Throughout this trying time, the NFL community surrounded him with support.
Durng the NFL Honors, a montage played detailing the efforts made by the medical staff before legendary Bills quarterback Jim Kelly welcomed them to the stage.
“You know them as Team Damar,” he said, as the members of the Bills and Bengals training and medical staff took to the stage alongside the University of Cincinnati medical staff. They were greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd.
— NFL (@NFL) February 10, 2023
Then, it was Damar’s turn to express his gratitude.
“Abbot Elementary” star Sheryl Lee Ralph introduced Damar alongside Jim Kelly, proudly announcing, “Alive and living, Damar Hamlin!” Damar took to the stage amidst heartfelt applause and cheering.
“First, I would just like to thank God for even being here,” Damar began.
He reflected on the impact his experience had on the country.
“The journey will continue.” ❤️💙
— NFL (@NFL) February 10, 2023
“Every day I am amazed that my experiences could encourage so many others across the country and even across the world,” he said. “Encourage to pray, encourage to spread love and encourage keep fighting no matter the circumstances.”
He also shared how this journey has given him a renewed sense of purpose and hope: “My entire life, I felt like God was using me to give others hope. And now with a new set of circumstances, I can only say he’s doing what he’s always done. I have a long journey ahead. A journey full of unknowns, and a journey full of milestones. But it’s a lot easier to face your fears, when you know your purpose.”
Damar also took a moment to thank one ICU staff member in particular.
“My third night awake in the hospital, I met an ICU doctor – his name was Youssef. He told me he had a similar experience, he showed me he was okay and that meant so much to me,” Damar shared. “There was so much uncertainty at the time and just him coming to me; showing that I could live a normal life again, it meant so much to me in the moment.”
He fought back tears during the emotional reflection on his ordeal, and audience members were also seen looking visibly moved.
“So, I want to give a big thank you to him and a special thank you to everyone on this stage for everything they did for me. And thank you for everyone around the country and around the world who prayed for me and hoped for me. The journey will continue.”
Damar received an his own honor earlier this week. On Wednesday he received the Alan Page Community Award for his charity work. He raised more then $9 million for Chasing M, a charity dedicated to buying toys for children during the holiday season, in the weeks following his cardiac episode.
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