Damar Hamlin was moved to tears while honoring the people who helped save his life.
During the 2023 ESPYS July 12, the NFL star presented the Buffalo Bills training staff with the Pat Tillman Award for Service for their swift action after he suffered a cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in January. In addition to taking the stage during the award show, the Bills safety also narrated a video where he reflected on the harrowing incident and the courage his team's training staff showed on the field.
"Thanks to their training, their poise, their commitment to serve others, the Bills training staff kept me alive," Hamlin said in the footage. "I didn't wake up that morning in January thinking that I would need someone to save my life that day, and I doubt that the training staff thought that they would have to do what they did either."
The 25-year-old continued, "That, as much as anything else, is what I've taken away from what happened to me six and a half months ago—that any of us at any given time are capable of doing something as incredible as saving a life and living a life in service to others."
As the crowd at the ESPYs gave the video a standing ovation, Hamlin welcomed the training staff to the stage, where they surrounded the athlete in a group hug.
"Damar, first and foremost, thank you for staying alive, brother," the Bills' head athletic trainer Nate Breske later said onstage. "Seriously, we are so honored to be standing up here with such a strong and courageous human being."
After being initially treated on the field following his cardiac arrest, Hamlin was transported to a hospital in Cincinnati where he spent time in the ICU before being flown back to Buffalo to continue his recovery. In April, it was confirmed that doctors had cleared the athlete to return to playing football.
"My heart is still in the game," Hamlin said at a news conference at the time. "I love the game. It is something I want to prove to myself, not nobody else."