Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin was on the stage at the NFL Honors show in Phoenix and got plenty members of the crowd in tears.
Bills legend Jim Kelly and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph welcomed both the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals‘ medical staffs to the stage, as well as workers at the University of Cincinnati Health Center, where Hamlin stayed for over a week.
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After the entire crowd gave them a standing ovation, Ralph then announced Hamlin to the stage, resulting in continued applause.
Hamlin made unfortunate headlines in January when he went into cardiac arrest after making a tackle on Monday Night Football– he was administered CPR on the field for over nine minutes. He was released from the hospital less than two weeks later.
In his first in-person comments, he discussed how overwhelmed he continues to be by all the support thrown his way over the last several weeks.
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“Every day I am amazed that my experiences could encourage so many others across the country and across the world,” Hamlin said. “Encourage to pray, encourage to spread love and encourage keep fighting no matter the circumstances.
“Sudden cardiac arrest was nothing I would have ever chosen to have been a part of my story, but that’s because sometimes our own visions are too small even when we think we’re seeing a bigger picture. My vision was about playing in the NFL and being the best player I could be. But God’s plan was to have a purpose greater than any game in this world.
“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.”
NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer said earlier this week that he expects Hamlin to suit up again – a day all football fans are looking forward to.