The current NFL season had seen Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin establish it on the team before suffering cardiac arrest and collapsing in the Bills’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday.
Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored on the field, according to the Bills, and he remains in “critical condition” in a Cincinnati hospital.
The match was later postponed with players from both teams visibly distraught following the incident.
Hamlin, 24, has played in every game this season after suffering an injury at Bills defensive back.
According to ESPN, the safety has recorded 91 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes defended in 15 games this season as the Bills (12-3) lead the AFC East standings. Hamlin entered Monday tied for the second-most tackles on the team.
“I cherish every moment I can,” Hamlin said in a recent interview with One Bills Live.
A Pennsylvania native, Hamlin joined the Bills in 2021 as a sixth-round pick (212th overall) out of the University of Pittsburgh.
Prior to that, he won a Pennsylvania State Championship while at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh in 2015, leading the team to a 15-1 record as one of the highest-rated defensemen. of State.
His college career with the Pittsburgh Panthers was cut short by injuries, and in 2016 he received a redshirt, meaning he missed games while still on the team.
During his 46 games in Pittsburgh, Hamlin recorded 275 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six interceptions, 21 passes defended and one fumble recovery, according to the Bills. After the 2020 season, he earned All-ACC second-team honors.
Away from the football field, Hamlin started his Chasing M’s Foundation while in college, which began as a program to buy and donate toys to a daycare center in his hometown of McKees Rock, Pennsylvania.
In the hours after Hamlin’s collapse, donations to the toy fundraiser organized by Hamlin and the Chasing M’s Foundation soared to more than $3 million within hours.
According to Hamlin’s GoFundMe page, the toy drive seeks to “have a positive impact on children who have been hardest hit by the pandemic”, with 100% of funds expected to go to toys for children in need. .
Jordon Rooney, friend and marketing representative of Damar Hamlin, described the 24-year-old as a “fighter”.
“I mean, if there’s anyone I trust to get anything done, it’s him. He’s someone who always finds a way to come through,” Rooney told CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus on Tuesday.
In an earlier interview, Rooney said he met Hamlin when the player was interned for him and the two have been good friends ever since.
“Actually I know Damar because he is a first division football player, he contacted me to be a trainee for me.” Rooney told ABC’s Robin Roberts on Good Morning America.
“Which is something quite unique and the reason for that is that he was always interested in being an entrepreneur and he wanted to create his own brand.
“He did an internship for me and then we got super, super close so now, you know, we’re partners in a business together. We collaborate on a lot of things and we are very good friends.
Hamlin continued his annual toy drive tradition this year in Buffalo, signing autographs and jerseys for kids who stopped by.
“(It’s) something I’ve always been into, just giving back,” he told CNN affiliate WKBW in December, adding, “I’ve been collecting toys for three years, so I can just expand it to Buffalo now is just something I like to do.
In a 2021 interview with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Hamlin thanked his parents, Mario and Nina Hamlin, for keeping him on track as a kid at McKees Rocks, which the newspaper said had issues. drugs and gangs that have produced one of the highest crime rates in the United States.
“There were times when I could have turned right or left, but my parents were always there to straighten me out and get me back on track,” Hamlin said in a newspaper interview.
He noted how some of his father’s advice came from prison, where Mario Hamlin served time for a federal drug conviction.
“The good thing is that I had good goals and good morals already established in me at that time,” Hamlin told the Rochester newspaper.
Hamlin helped his mother, who was at the game on Monday, with a family cleaning business that got him into the private Catholic High School at Pittsburgh Central.
“He’s got a strong family. He’s got the perfect support system. They’re optimistic,” Rooney told CNN, calling Hamlin “more than an athlete.”
“He’s in the NFL because he wants to be a role model,” Rooney said. “Part of what drives Damar is to be an example to other young people in his community.”