Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin had an emotional moment Sunday night on the field of Cincinnati’s Paycor Stadium, where 10 months ago he collapsed on the field after suffering a cardiac arrest.
After his first game back at the stadium since his life-threatening medical incident, the 25-year-old spent nearly 15 minutes reflecting at the center of the field.
Tonight was everything for me.. y’all don’t know the half of it. Trust me,” Hamlin wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, in response to video of the moment captured by WLWT sports reporter Olivia Ray.
With clearance from his doctor, Hamlin returned to playing for the Bills in August, seven months after collapsing on the field after getting up from a tackle. He lay motionless on the field as paramedics rushed to attend to him and eventually sent him to the hospital, where he was intubated.
Hamlin later confirmed that he’d suffered an episode of commotio cordis, an extremely rare heart condition caused by a blow to the chest for which there is only a 3% chance of survival if the affected person is not resuscitated within three minutes. Hamlin’s ordeal left other players on the field visibly distressed and crying.
Hamlin’s first game back in August was “super fun,” he told the Bills’ news outlet at the time. “It was a great experience. Just another milestone and a step up just getting back to myself as far as in the football space and in the NFL.”
Bills head coach Sean McDermott said it was “remarkable” to see Hamlin back on the field.
“It’s a true sign of a young man’s courage, and obviously everyone who helped him get to this point,” he said. “I know there was a football game going on out there today, but I mean, truly remarkable display of courage and strength and faith.”
Ahead of Sunday’s game, Hamlin revealed that he’d started a scholarship fund in honor of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center employees who had cared for him after his cardiac arrest.
“Last night I had dinner with my heroes. 10 of the UC Medical Staff that helped save my life,” he posted on X with a photo of the employees. “I surprised them with a scholarship named after each of them that will support youth in Cincy to chase their dreams. Wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them!”
Following his health crisis, Hamlin testified before Congress, urging lawmakers to put more defibrillators in schools.
“Sudden cardiac arrest happens to more than 7,000 kids under the age of 18 every year in our country,” he testified in May. “The majority of the kids impacted are student athletes. Research shows that 1 in every 300 youth has an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk.”