‘He’s a fighter’: Damar Hamlin’s family speak out after cardiac arrest

Damar Hamlin's family have thanked fans for their support and praised the work of medical personnel after the NFL player suffered a cardiac arrest during a game on Monday night.

The Buffalo Bills safety collapsed to the ground during the contest with the Cincinnati Bengals shortly after making a tackle before first responders treated him on the field.

CPR was administered and Hamlin’s heartbeat restored, the team would later confirm, before he was taken from the stadium in an ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

The team confirmed he had been sedated and was "listed in a critical condition" with the game postponed indefinitely by the league.

“We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words and donations from fans around the country,” Hamlin’s family wrote in a message posted on the Twitter account of the player’s marketing representative, Jordon Rooney.

The family also paid tribute to the first responders, medical staff at UC Medical Center, the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals for their support.

“On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time. We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words, and donations from fans around the country,” the statement added.

“We also want to acknowledge the dedicated first responders and healthcare professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who have provided exceptional care to Damar. We feel so blessed to be part of the Buffalo Bills organization and to have their support.

“We also want to thank Coach Taylor and the Bengals for everything they’ve done. Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us.

“Please keep Damar in your prayers. We will release updates as soon as we have them.”

Players of both the Bills and the Bengals were visibly emotional alongside Hamlin on the field and prayed together as the player received treatment.

A statement from the NFL Players Association said: “The NFLPA and everyone in our community is praying for Damar Hamlin.

“We have been in touch with Bills and Bengals players, and with the NFL. The only thing that matters at this moment is Damar’s health and wellbeing.”

Players of both the Bills and the Bengals were visibly emotional alongside Hamlin on the field (Getty Images)
Players of both the Bills and the Bengals were visibly emotional alongside Hamlin on the field (Getty Images)

Wide receiver Tee Higgins, the player Hamlin tackled before collapsing, tweeted: “My prayers and thoughts go out to @HamlinIsland the Hamlin Family. I’m praying that you pull through bro. Love.”

Bills quarterback Josh Allen said on his personal Twitter account: “Please pray for our brother.”

Arizona Cardinals’ JJ Watt, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year, tweeted: “The game is not important. Damar Hamlin’s life is important. Please be ok. Please.”

Buffalo are the only franchise to play in New York state and Eric Adams, the Mayor of New York City, led the prayers for Hamlin.

Adams said: “I’m asking all New Yorkers to join me in praying for Damar Hamlin, his family, his team-mates, and our brothers and sisters in Buffalo.”

“The entire City of Cincinnati is sending all of our prayers to Damar Hamlin right now,” Cincinnati mayor Aftab Pureval added. “Our hearts are with you, your family and your friends.”

The Bills returned to the team facility in Orchard Park, New York in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with the exception of a few players including star wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who stayed behind with Hamlin.

About 100 Bills fans and a few Bengals fans gathered on a corner one block from the emergency room entrance, some of them holding candles.

Basketball star LeBron James also offered has prayers to Hamlin following the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

James said: “My thoughts and super prayers go up to the skies above for that kid’s family, for him, for that brotherhood of the NFL and everybody part of the NFL family.

“It was definitely the right call to suspend that game. The safety of players in all sports is always the most important.

“It was a terrible thing to see and I wish nothing but the best for that kid, for the city of Buffalo, the franchise of the Bills, the rest of the NFL and the Bengals who were playing in that game.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it since I was playing,” NFL executive Troy Vincent, a six-time Pro Bowl cornerback during his career, said on Tuesday morning. “Immediately, my player hat went on, like, how do you resume playing after seeing a traumatic event in front of you?”

Vincent insisted the league took no steps towards restarting the game and did not ask players to begin a five-minute warmup period as ESPN’s broadcasters had announced.

“It never crossed our mind to talk about warming up to resume play,” Vincent said. “That’s ridiculous. That’s insensitive. That’s not a place we should ever be in.”

Hamlin spent five years at his hometown college of Pittsburgh appearing in 48 games for the Panthers over that span. He was a second-team All-ACC performer as a senior, was voted a team captain and was picked to play in the Senior Bowl.

He was drafted in the sixth round by the Bills in 2021, played in 14 games as a rookie and then became a starter this year once Micah Hyde was lost for the season to injury.

By Tuesday, a community toy drive organized by Hamlin had surged to more than $3million in donations. His stated goal was $2,500.

The league have confirmed they have made no plans at this time to play the game adding that Hamlin’s health remains the main focus.