Damar Hamlin just reunited with the people who helped save his life.
More than a month after the Buffalo Bills player suffered a cardiac arrest during a game, those who treated him—including Bills and Cincinnati Bengals medical and training staff who helped the safety on the field, as well as staff from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he received care following the incident—were recognized at the 2023 NFL Honors event Feb. 9. Hamlin himself then joined them in a surprise appearance, where he reflected on his experience.
"Every day I am amazed that my experiences could encourage so many others across the country and even across the world," the 24-year-old told the audience. "Encourage to pray, encourage to spread love, and encourage to keep fighting no matter the circumstances. Sudden cardiac arrest was nothing I would have ever chosen to be a part of my story, but that's because sometimes our own visions are too small even when we think we are seeing the bigger picture."
During his speech, Hamlin thanked all the first responders who helped him, including a ICU doctor named Yousef, who told him he had been through something similar. "He showed me he was OK and that meant so much to me," the NFL star said. "There was so much uncertainty at the time and just him coming to me, showing I could live a normal life again, it meant so much to me and my mom. I want to give a big thank you to him."
Following his cardiac arrest, Hamlin was hospitalized in Cincinnati for several days before he was flown back to Buffalo, where he spent a couple of days at the Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute before being discharged Jan. 11. His team has rallied behind him amid his recovery and he showed the support right back, cheering them throughout the rest of the season.
"My vision was about playing in the NFL and being the best player that I could be," he said onstage at the NFL Honors event, "but God's plan was to have a purpose greater than any game in this world."
Hamlin continued, "My entire life, I felt like God was using me to give others hope and now with a new set of circumstances, I can say he's doing what he's always done. 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."
See more photos of stars at the NFL Honors 2023 event below: