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An Emotional Damar Hamlin Presents Pat Tillman Service Award to Buffalo Bills Training Staff



Buffalo Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington saved Damar Hamlin’s life with quick, effective treatment on the field at Paycor Stadium in January after Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest.

The actions of Kellington and the Bills’ athletic training staff, and the medical staff at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, helped Hamlin recover from a horrific event that occurred during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals last season. And at the 2023 ESPY Awards Ceremony, Hamlin himself was able to give thanks.

“Please welcome this year’s recipient of the Pat Tillman Award for Service, the training staff of the Buffalo Bills,” a tearful Hamlin said Wednesday night.

The Buffalo Bills training staff received the Pat Tillman Award for Service Wednesday night, embracing an emotional Hamlin on the stage to a standing ovation.

The ESPYs appearance comes after Hamlin spent the weekend in Pittsburgh, hosting a youth football camp on Friday, the Chasing M’s charity softball game — which was attended by former WPIAL, Pitt and NFL stars — Saturday and a CPR Tour and All-Star football game on Sunday.

And the weekend was capped off by July 9 being named Damar Hamlin Day in Pittsburgh.

It all comes after Hamlin’s recent appearance to throw out the first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates game in late June, hanging out with Pirates stars Andrew McCutchen and David Bednar. And he’s close to a return to the football field, too.

He was cleared by Bills doctors to resume football activities in April, and he returned to the field in full pads for the Bills OTAs earlier this month. It remains to be seen if Hamlin will be able to see the field for the Bills’ first game against the New York Jets on Sept. 11, but it’s a remarkable feat to even be in the position to return to the field after his cardiac arrest in January.

Hamlin’s recovery has also coincided with a national tour, including a meeting with President Joe Biden during which he said he would return to playing football.

“My third night awake in the hospital, I met an ICU doctor,” Hamlin said at the NFL Honors show in February. “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 and 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.”

Hamlin recorded 91 tackles (63 solo), six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble in 15 games last — starting every game in the Bills’ secondary from Week 3 onward. And he served a key role in the Buffalo secondary.

In five seasons at Pitt, he recorded 275 tackles (185 solo), 10 tackles for loss, six interceptions, 21 pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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