Damar Hamlin Grateful, speaking publicly for the first time in video

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Damar Hamlin posted a video on Saturday in which he says he’s grateful for the support and promises to pay back, marking the first time the Buffalo Bills safety has spoken publicly since suffering cardiac arrest and having to be resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati on Jan. 2.

Noting that he continues to make “a lot of progress” in his recovery, he said now was the “right time” to speak since the Bills’ season ended and because he needed time to recover and gather his thoughts.

“There was just a lot to process in my own self — mentally, physically, even spiritually. It’s just been a lot to process,” he said. “But I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all the love, all the support and everything that has just come my way.”

Hamlin said then that he has come to peace with what happened on the field when he collapsed after making what appeared to be a routine tackle on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, which hit Hamlin squarely in the chest.

“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 whole world,” he said.

“And now I’m able to give to children and communities around the world who need it the most. And that’s always been my dream,” he added. “That’s always been what I’ve stood for and what I want to continue to do stand for.”

Hamlin didn’t seem to have any trouble speaking during the 5 1/2-minute video titled: “Thank You: A Message from Damar Hamlin” posted on his Instagram account.

The video opens with Hamlin walking into view, putting down a jacket and taking a seat in what appears to be one of the Bills team meeting rooms. The room is dimly lit with the word “Bills” visible behind him.

Hamlin is wearing a white T-shirt with the name of his charitable foundation, Chasing Millions, printed on the front and a gold chain with the initials “DM” hanging around his neck.

The Bills did not immediately respond to a message about when or where the video was filmed.

On January 20, Hamlin’s marketing representative Jordon Rooney said the 24-year-old faces a long recovery while still requiring oxygen at the time and that his heart is being monitored regularly to ensure there is no setback.

Hamlin has been recovering at home since being released from the hospital on Jan. 11 to continue his rehab with the Bills. He then began visiting the team’s facility regularly and was healthy enough to attend the Bills’ season-ending 27-10 loss to the Bengals in a divisional playoff game last weekend.

Hamlin spent most of the video giving thanks as he listed his family, teammates, training staff and the medical staff at both the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Buffalo General Medical Center, where he shared his recovery.

He thanked the Bengals and players from around the league for their support by “putting team loyalty aside.”

“You put humanity above team loyalty. You showed the world unity over division,” Hamlin said. “I’m not surprised by that, but I’m deeply grateful and I’ll be forever grateful and indebted to you.”

He also thanked those who donated more than $9 million to his charity in the past four weeks.

“Although I am so grateful for everyone, I know that just being grateful is not enough. This is just the beginning of the impact I wanted to have on the world, Hamlin said as he ended the video by making a heart sign with his hands.

“I couldn’t do this without this support and love,” he continued. “And I look forward to continuing to take you on this journey with me.”

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