Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin spoke for the first time since being in critical condition after collapsing from cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2.
Hamlin’s heart stopped on the field.
As Hamlin was taken from the field, both teams kneeled in prayer.
The 24-year-old football star spoke about his experience in a nearly six-minute video posted to his Instagram account on Saturday night.
In the video, Hamlin said that he was waiting to speak at the “right time,” and that it was “just a lot to process within my own self — mentally, physically, even spiritually.”
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“I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of all the love, all the support and everything that’s just been coming in my way,” Hamlin said.
A charity launched by Hamlin prior to the incident, a toy drive called the Chasin M’s Foundation, had a fundraiser with a goal of just $2,500.
Hamlin said that he believes the incident was an act of God, as while he was hospitalized, the fundraiser raised over $9 million.
“What happened to me on ‘Monday Night Football’ I feel is a direct example of God using me as a vessel to share my passion and my love directly from my heart with the entire world and 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 will continue to stand for.”
“That was something that was started even way before I made it to the NFL, something that was started small just to be able to affect my small community back at home, McKees Rocks [Pennsylvania],” Hamlin said. “I just wanted to be able to play my role and do my part in my community as I ventured off and to chase my dreams of making the NFL, and you guys have just took that and blown it away, and I’m so excited for the things that I have planned in the future for these kids all across the country now.”
Hamlin thanked his parents, his little brother, family, friends, teammates, fans, and many others for their support.
“I’m not surprised by it,” Hamlin said, “but I’m deeply grateful, and I’ll be forever thankful and indebted to that.”
The safety said that he hopes to be a good example for children.
“It’s always been important for me to be a role model, but just seeing the love and the support from the youth,” Hamlin said, “it just makes me want to give back and get out in the communities and touch the kids and just be that example that they can look to, touch, feel, talk to and know that whatever they dream of, it’s real. It can happen if you stay focused, stay dedicated, stay committed to whatever you got going on, you know, because that’s pretty much what got me here.”
“I will continue to do wonderful and great things,” Hamlin said. “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.”