The sporting world was left in shock on Monday night after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field following what appeared to be a routine tackle. He was administered CPR before eventually being taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Players and coaches gathered in support and were understandably shaken. They opted to temporarily suspend the game given the heartbreaking circumstances.
Damar Hamlin’s journey to the NFL
Damar Hamlin was raised just outside Pittsburgh and remained in the area until he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. He grew up in McKees Rocks and attended Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School, where he was a star in a defense that went on to win the State Championship with a 15-1 record.
After continuing to shine at the University of Pittsburgh, he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth-round of the 2021 NFL Draft and has totaled 91 tackles, 63 solo tackles, and over a sack since then, becoming a key cog in the elite Buffalo defense. An outpouring of support from teams and players around the league has seen everyone gather in prayer for the Bills’ safety.
Nation rallies together to support Hamlin
Whether it’s subtle gestures like those from the Philadelphia Eagles, who postponed their press conferences until Thursday out of respect for Hamlin, or heartwarming efforts from the community, the entire nation is rallying behind the young safety.
Even Cleveland Cavalier Donovan Mitchell stopped his own press conference to send prayers and well wishes to Damar and his family. This was shortly after dropping a stunning 71-point game.
Perhaps the kindest gesture of all is what we saw happen to Hamlin’s toy drive. Back when he was in college, Hamilton started an annual Christmas toy drive in McKees Rocks. The aim of the drive was to raise $2,500 for children in his community. Within the space of a few short hours, the donations soared past the $3 million mark. Per AP writer Tim Reynolds, a donation has been made every 0.3 seconds on average since the injury. The average donation is around $28 and the overall money raised is now nearing $4 million.
The toy drive shows exactly the kind of person Hamlin is. He’s also created a clothing brand called ‘Chasing M’s’ which is aimed at individuals who ‘can’t settle to be average’ and want to pursue their dreams. Per CBS sports, he has donated clothes from Chasing M’s to schools in and around his hometown.
Hamlin has been a key cog in Buffalo’s defense
As a player, Hamlin has been someone who has defied the odds since arriving in the NFL. With minimal exposure to defensive snaps as a rookie, he took full advantage of voluntary offseason workouts while the likes of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde opted out. This gave him extended looks with the first team which ultimately proved extremely valuable.
When Micah Hyde suffered a neck injury in Week 2, it was the Pitt product who earned the nod. Since then, he’s become an integral part of the defense and is second in total team tackles only to star linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. He notched his first fumble in the win over the Jets and has played in 100% of defensive snaps on 8 occasions this season.
The whole nation is united in supporting Hamlin and his family. This is much bigger than football as everyone is hoping that Hamlin, a young and selfless player who makes just as much impact off the field as he does on it, can make a full recovery.
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire