Damar Hamlin took the stage during Wednesday’s 2023 ESPY Awards and made an emotional tribute to the training team that helped save his life. He presented the Pat Tillman Award for Service to the Buffalo Bills training staff in an emotional tribute.
Hamlin received a standing ovation as he got on stage.
“What I’ve taken away from what happened to me six and a half months ago, is that any of us at any given time are capable of doing something that’s incredible, in saving a life and living a life in service to others,” he said, according to The Daily Beast.
“It’s a blessing. It’s a responsibility. And it’s the very reason why you’re hearing my voice right now. Anyone could be a hero. These are mine.”
The 25-year-old went into cardiac arrest after making a tackle in the first quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2. Medical personnel ran onto the field, and the immediacy of their response is widely credited for Hamlin’s recovery. The football player was in critical condition and left the hospital 9 days following the incident, according to PEOPLE.
The Buffalo Bills safety wiped away tears and greeted the team onto the stage.
“Damar, first and foremost, thank you for staying alive, brother,” Nate Breske, the Buffalo Bills’ head trainer, said, according to the NFL.
“We’re not used to having the spotlight on us. We were just doing our job, but the idea of service is definitely something that is ingrained in our profession and that we take great pride in,” he added.
Breske highlighted the importance of funding for automated external defibrillators and CPR training in underserved communities.
“Learn CPR and how to use an AED because they save lives,” he said.
Breske also thanked the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals athletic training, medical staff, equipment managers and player engagement personnel, as well as the involved mental health clinicians, chaplains, security, on-field first responders, paramedics and staff at the University of Cincinnati medical center.
“It means everything. We shared a special moment together,” Hamlin told US Magazine. “I’ll be bonded with that medical staff for life. They’re like family.”