Damar Hamlin made his first public statement on Saturday after the Buffalo Bills safety suffered cardiac arrest following an on-field collision during his team’s since-canceled Monday night game versus the Cincinnati Bengals.
“When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3x’s as much,” he posted on Saturday via Instagram. “The Love has been overwhelming, but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. We brung the world back together behind this. If you know me you know this only gone make me stronger. On a long road keep praying for me! #3strong”
Since the terrifying Jan. 2 on-field incident, Hamlin had been under the care of physicians at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where his prognosis has steadily improved; on Thursday, the team announced that he had shown “remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours” and that he was “neurologically intact.”
After initially communicating via a writing board — his first question was reportedly if the Bills won the game — the team announced Friday that “Damar’s breathing tube was removed overnight. He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery. His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team.”
By Friday, Hamlin was in communication with his teammates via FaceTime before he addressed the concerned public, days after many witnessed him collapse on the field after colliding with Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. Although Hamlin bounced back on his feet, after taking a few steps, he collapsed backward onto the turf. A referee whistled for the clock to stop with 5:58 left in the opening quarter.
Medical staff and local paramedics rushed to the motionless player and administered CPR to restore Hamlin’s heartbeat before he was transported to the hospital in an ambulance around 16 minutes later.
After a long delay, the Monday night game was suspended, and ultimately canceled by the NFL Thursday.
Prayers for Hamlin flooded social media following his on-field collapse, and donations to his holiday fundraiser — a toy drive promoted by his Chasing M’s Foundation — raised over $3.4 million from over 134,000 contributors in the hours following the medical emergency. At press time, the foundation has received more than $8 million in donations since the incident.