In a moment that has been a long time coming for the 25-year-old safety, Damar Hamlin took the field Aug. 12 for the Buffalo Bills, CBS News reported. Hamiln’s football career, and more importantly his life, hung in the balance in January 2023 after a routine tackle caused him to have a heart attack on the field.
At June’s ESPYs, a tearful Hamlin presented the Buffalo Bills training staff with the Pat Tillman Award for Service. Just before he presented the award, the crowd at the ceremony gave him a standing ovation before he could even say a word.
Hamiln’s journey back represented a significant undertaking on his part, and in an interview with Michael Strahan on Dateline, Hamlin revealed what he said when he first woke up, telling Strahan: “ I wanted to know, like did we win? And he (the doctor in ICU) said yeah I won, I won the game of life.”
Over the next several months, Hamlin’s recovery became a national story. His doctors called his recovery remarkable and Strahan said that Hamiln’s story has caused a shift in the number of people who have applied for CPR training.
To that end, Hamlin partnered with the American Heart Association to create a #3forHeart CPR challenge fundraiser which has raised nearly $3 million for the organization as well as increased the number of people who know how to administer CPR.
Hamlin has maintained throughout his recovery that he intended to return to the game he loves and he did just that in a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The game marked the first real test of Hamlin’s intention to continue playing football. He appeared in 24 snaps, recorded 3 tackles, and showing a willingness to get involved in the action. His first snap? A big fourth-down stop in the first quarter
After the game, Hamlin spoke to reporters from USA Today. “It was fun, it was super fun, it was a great experience, just another milestone and a step up to just getting back to myself as far as the football space,” he said. “Just chopping this tree down as much as I can, one step at a time.”