Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin emotionally thanked a host of people via his first video to the public on Saturday— four weeks after he collapsed during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2.
The 24-year-old opened his extensive comments by saying he continues to make “much progress” in recovery after being released from the hospital on Jan. 11. “It was just a lot to process within my own self—mentally, physically, even spiritually. It’s just been a lot to process. But I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of all the love, all the support, and everything that’s just been coming my way,” Hamlin said, before vowing to pay it back.
“And now I'm able to give it back to kids and communities all across the world who need it the most, and that's always been my dream. That's always been what I stood for and what I'll continue to stand for,” he said.
The near-six-minute video saw him move on to thank Bills’ training staff, such as assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington who administered him CPR on the field, first responders, and doctors who “acted willfully and skillfully to save [his] life,” and healthcare workers. He stayed seven days at the medical center in Cincinnati and was then transferred to Buffalo General Hospital on Jan. 9.
Hamlin did not appear to have any trouble speaking in what appears to be one of the Bills team meeting rooms, the prerecorded clips show.
Hamlin, who is now undergoing his recovery at home and with the Bills, also offered his appreciation to family and friends who texted and visited him in the wake of his collapse. He then extend his thanks to football fans for their overwhelming support and to children for their letters and gifts throughout what he called “the toughest moments and the toughest times.”
“I really can't thank you enough,” he said.
Hamlin, in the meanwhile, praised the city of Cincinnati, the Bengals, and the rest of the NFL “for putting team allegiance aside to root for one kid's life and just the humanity of a player that's wearing Buffalo Blue.” “You put humanity above team loyalty. You showed the world unity over division. I'm not surprised by it but I'm deeply grateful and I'll be forever thankful and indebted for that,” he added.
Hamlin also gave gratitude to those who donated more than $9 million to his charity over the past four weeks. The fundraiser’s initial goal was to get just $2,500 to support a toy drive in his community.
“I know that it isn't enough just to be thankful,” he said in closing.
“This is just the beginning of the impact that I wanted to have on the world and with God's guidance I will continue to do wonderful and great things. I couldn't do this without any of the support and the love and I can't wait to continue to take y'all on this journey with me,” Hamlin concluded, smiling and making a heart sign with his hands.
Hamlin, a sixth-round pick of the Bills in the 2021 NFL Draft, had started 13 games this season after a neck injury to his teammate Micah Hyde.