Damar Hamlin had one of the biggest highlights of the 2023 NFL Honors awards on Thursday, February 9. The Buffalo Bills safety, 24, gave an emotional speech thanking both God and those who treated him after he went into cardiac arrest during the Bills’ January 2 match against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was joined on stage by all of the medical staff who helped him in the hospital.
Damar Hamlin makes surprise appearance at NFL Honors awards show. Also on stage is the entire medical staff that helped save his life. pic.twitter.com/QISsiii6Ir
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) February 10, 2023
Damar began his speech by simply being thankful that he was alive, and he was happy that his story could give so many people hope, even if he never would’ve chosen to suffer from sudden cardiac arrest. “First, I would like to just thank God for even being here. Every day, I am amazed that my experiences could encourage so many others across the country and even across the world. Encourage to pray, encourage to spread love, and encourage to keep fighting no matter the circumstances,” he said. “My vision was about playing in the NFL and being the best player that I could be, but God’s plan was to have a purpose greater than any game in this world.”
The safety continued and said that while there was still so much about the future that was uncertain, he was happy that he could provide hope to those who needed it. “My entire life, I felt like God was using me to give others hope, and now, with a new set of circumstances, I can only 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,” he said.
Damar then recalled an ICU doctor coming to speak to him a few days after he first woke up, and he said the doctor shared his own similar experience. “He showed me he was okay, and that meant so much to me. There was so much uncertainty at the time, and just him coming to me, showing that I could live a normal life again, it meant so much to me in the moment,” he explained.
Damar concluded his speech by extending a major thanks to the doctor and all the medical professionals who helped him during what was surely a frightening time. “I want to give a big thank you to him, and a special thank you to everyone on this stage for everything they did for me, and thank you everyone around the country and around the world who prayed for me and hoped for me,” he said. “The journey will continue.”
After going into cardiac arrest during the January 2 Monday Night Football game, play was suspended for the Bills-Bengals game. Damar was hospitalized for nine days. After a week, he was transferred to a medical facility in Buffalo, and released just two days later.