When Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati after what looked to be a routine hit from Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins back in January, the sports world and the viewing nation experienced one of the most tense, emotional moments in sports history.
Hamlin essentially died on the field after the blow from Higgins caused his heart to stop, and if not for Bengal medical personnel and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, he wouldn’t have been where he was this past Sunday night.
The Buffalo Bills returned back to Cincinnati for Sunday Night Football, and while he wasn’t dressed for the game, at least Damar Hamlin was alive for the experience. The Bills eventually lost the much-anticipated rematch in the Queen City, but ultimately, Damar Hamlin was the big winner.
After the game, Bengal beat reporter Olivia Ray shared a video of Hamlin reflecting alone on the field. Ray caught the emotional moment and wrote: “Damar Hamlin is alone on the field at Paycor Stadium postgame. An emotional scene as Hamlin spends nearly 15 minutes at the logo in Cincinnati.”
Hamlin spent nine days in the hospital after suffering commotio cordis following the fateful collision with Tee Higgins. After spending time alone on the field, Hamlin slowly made his way to the locker room. He shared an emotional video on Instagram after the game. He said: “Head clear. Blessed & highly favored. Thank you.”
The Bills safety shared Olivia Ray’s video with a personal message for viewers. He added: “Tonight was everything for me.. y’all don’t know the half of it. Trust me.”
Hamlin took the opportunity while in Cincinnati to visit with the heroes who saved his life back in January. He posted on social media: “Last night I had dinner with my heroes. 10 of the UC Medical Staff that helped save my life. 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!”
It has been an emotional six months for the Bill’s safety. He has made numerous visits back to Cincinnati to see the people who saved his life that January evening. At the ESPN ESPY Awards, Hamlin honored the first responders who saved his life that night.
The player handed them the Pat Tillman Award for Service, but said before he presented it: “I didn’t wake up that morning in January thinking that I would need someone to save my life that day, and I doubt that the staff thought that they had to do what they did either.” He continued, “What I’ve taken away from what happened to me six and a half months ago, is that any of us at any given time are capable of doing something that’s incredible, in saving a life and living a life in service to others. It’s a blessing. It’s a responsibility. And it’s the very reason why you’re hearing my voice right now. Anyone could be a hero. These are mine.”
It was truly a touching moment, and one that reminded anyone watching of the fragility of life, and the potential that exists for it to be taken away at any moment. Damar Hamlin may not have pulled on a helmet Sunday night in Cincinnati, but he walked off the field at Paycor Stadium as the night’s biggest winner.
Featured image screen grab from embedded YouTube video
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