Hamlin, taken off the field in an ambulance January 2 after collapsing in a game at Cincinnati, made a surprise appearance in Phoenix on Wednesday to accept this year’s NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Community Award in recognition of his charity foundation’s work.
Hamlin, whose heartbeat was restored on the field, was in critical condition but awoke four days later and began breathing on his own. After a week he was transfered to a Buffalo hospital and was discharged on January 11, nine days after the incident.
NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer, speaking to Sirius XM Radio’s “Heart to Heart” program, said the 24-year-old American would be able to return to the NFL.
“I guarantee you that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again,” Mayer said.
Hamlin was well enough to attend the Bills’ final game of the campaign, a home playoff loss to Cincinnati last month.
Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation has raised more than $9 million since his collapse. His GoFundMe page hoping to raise $2,500 for toy donations in his home region of Pittsburgh drew millions more in support.
“It’s a blessing to be a blessing,” Hamlin said in accepting the $100,000 NFLPA award.
“With that being said, I plan to never take this position for granted and always have an urgent approach to making a difference in the community where I come from and also communities across the world.”
“Giving back to my community has always been a big part of who I am,” Hamlin he added.
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