Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made his first public comments since going into cardiac arrest during a Jan. 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, taking time to offer thanks for the outpouring of support he has received over the past month.
"I think it was important for me to wait and speak publicly at the right time, as it was a lot to process within my own self, mentally, physically, even spiritually," Hamlin said in the video. "But I can't tell you how appreciative I am of all of the love, all the support, and everything that's just been coming in my way.
"What happened to me on Monday Night Football I feel is a direct example of God using me as a vessel to share my passion and my love directly from my heart with the entire world, and I'm able to give it back to kids and communities all across the world who needed it most. And that's always been my dream, that's always been what I stood for and what I continue to stand for."
Hamlin attended Buffalo's divisional-round game against the Bengals last Sunday after spending nine days in two hospitals. He met with teammates in the locker room ahead of the game and was also shown on the jumbotron, prompting fans to shower him with cheers.
Hamlin thanked all of medical personnel who treated him, including both the Bills' and Bengals' training staffs in addition to those who cared for him at University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Buffalo General Hospital. He also offered gratitude toward his family, fans and the NFL community as a whole.
"To the entire Bills organization and my brothers who made it a priority to lift me up spiritually, mentally, and in every way possible, reaching out every day seeing how I was doing, calling texting, just checking up on me no matter the situation," Hamlin said. "I'm proud to be a part of this team, I'm proud to be able to call you guys my brothers.
"To the city of Cincinnati, the Bengals, and the entire NFL, just for putting team allegiance aside to root for one kid's life, and the humanity of a player that's wearing Buffalo blue. You put humanity above team loyalty, you showed the world unity over division. I'm not surprised by it but I'm deeply grateful, and I will be forever thankful and indebted to that."
Much of the support Hamlin received came through donations to his non-profit organization, the Chasing M's Foundation. The foundation was running a community toy drive, which received over $9 million in donations in the wake of Hamlin's injury.
"My mind is literally blown away from all this support, I don't even have the words to express the gratitude for the amount of support that was given into that," Hamlin said. I just wanted to be able to play my role and do my part in my community as I ventured off to chase my dreams in the NFL, and you guys have just took that and blown it away, and I'm so excited for the things I have planned in the future for these kids all across the country now."
Hamlin closed the video by holding up his hands and making a heart symbol, something that he also did when shown on the jumbotron at the Bills' playoff game against Cincinnati.
--Field Level Media