Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who collapsed during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in early January and suffered cardiac arrest, appeared at the NFL Honors awards Thursday night to deliver a powerful message of love, faith, and hope. He looked vigorous and healthy despite his near brush with death.
Speaking at Symphony Hall inside the Phoenix Convention Center, Hamlin thanked God and then spoke of his gratitude that his story inspired so many:
First, I would like to just thank God for even being here.
Every day I was amazed that my experience could encourage so many others, across the country and even across the world. Encouraged to pray, encouraged to spread love, and encouraged to keep fighting no matter the circumstances.
Hamlin was joined onstage by the athletic training staffs of the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals as well as the medical team from the University of Cincinnati Health Center, where he spent nine days after the incident.
Hamlin continued, explaining that his faith has helped him overcome his ordeal:
Sudden cardiac arrest was nothing I would have ever chosen to be a part of my story. That’s because sometimes our own visions are too small, even when we think we’re seeing the bigger picture. My vision was about playing in the NFL and being the best player I could be. God’s plan was to have a purpose bigger than any game in this world.
He also spoke movingly about how he always felt his life’s mission was about more than just football:
My entire life, I felt like God was using me to give others hope. Now with a new set of circumstances, I can only say He is doing what He has always done. I have a long journey ahead, a journey full of unknowns and a journey full of milestones.
It’s a lot easier to face your fears when you know your purpose.
First and foremost, he was just glad to be alive, and to be able to tweet photos of himself on the red carpet:
Hamlin has shown in the past that he’s a class act, and as RedState Managing Editor Jennifer Van Laar reported, he set up the Chasing M Foundation soon after he signed his first NFL contract. Its first mission was to provide toys for underprivileged children, and after his close call with death, donors have now poured in well over $4 million.
I know that not all of our readers are football fans, but I think we all can agree this was a moving message that shows how the power of attitude and belief can be so effective. It’s also refreshing to see a public figure talk so openly and unashamedly about his faith when we see many in Hollywood ridiculed for proclaiming their convictions.
Watching this scary incident go from potential tragedy to uplifting story has been a beautiful thing. Hamlin’s parting words:
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 everyone around the country and around the world who pray for me and hope for me.
The journey will continue.