Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson won Offensive Player of the Year, and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa won Defensive Player of the Year. But it was Damar Hamlin who stole the show.
Hamlin, a former Pitt star and current Buffalo Bills safety, suffered a cardiac arrest on the field at Paycor Stadium on Monday, Jan. 2. He was rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treatment and spent a week being treated in Cincinnati before being transferred back to Buffalo to further recover.
Hamlin, after attending the Bills’ playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 22, made his first public appearance at the NFL Honors award show Thursday night in Phoenix — flanked by the hospital workers who helped save his life.
“First I would just like to thank God for even being here,” Hamlin said on the stage. “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.”
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) February 10, 2023
The sporting world rallied around Hamlin in wake of his medical emergency, with support offered from around the sporting world and over $9 million dollars raised for Hamlin’s Chasing M’s toy drive fundraiser.
Hamlin’s NFL future is uncertain, but he made sure to thank everyone — the fans, the hospital staff and everyone in between — for in his recovery.
“My third night awake in the hospital, I met an ICU doctor,” Hamlin said. “He told me he had a similar experience. He showed me he was okay, and that he was okay, and that meant so much to me. There was so much uncertainty at the time ad just him coming to me, showing me that I could live a normal life again, it meant so much to me in the moment.
“So, 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 to everyone around the country and around the world who prayed for me and hoped for me. The journey will continue.”