Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after making a tackle in the Bills' Monday night game against the Bengals. After receiving medical treatment that restored his heartbeat, the 24-year-old was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he is currently sedated and listed in critical condition, according to the team.
Who is Damar Hamlin? What is his background as a player and person? Here's a brief overview:
Born and raised in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh, Hamlin stayed in the area through college, starring at Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School and then for the University of Pittsburgh.
As a senior for the Panthers, Hamlin envisioned using his platform as a future NFL player to give back to McKees Rocks, initiating a community toy drive for a local daycare in December 2020. It was the first program of The Chasing M's Foundation, his own startup, and initially set a $2,500 fundraising goal. Within hours of Hamlin's injury Monday night, more than $1 million in donations had flooded the toy drive's GoFundMe page, which as of Tuesday morning had raised more than $3.4M from 130,000 donors.
"As I embark on my journey to the NFL," Hamlin wrote at the time, "I will never forget where I come from and I am committed to using my platform to positively impact the community that raised me.
Hamlin originally emerged from Pittsburgh Central Catholic as a top-rated cornerback prospect, headlining his high school's defense with 89 tackles, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries during a 15-1 state championship season, per The Athletic. Recruited by Penn State, Ohio State, UCLA and Notre Dame among other major colleges, he elected to stay closer to home at Pitt, motivated largely by the opportunity to inspire his younger brother, Damir.
"I wanted to give him that image growing up," Hamlin told Ty Dunne. "Me growing up ... I didn't have anybody I could look up to or lean on. That's why I stayed home at Pitt. I chose Pitt over everybody. Just for that one reason -- for my brother."
While at Pittsburgh, Hamlin started 36 of his final 38 games, twice leading the team in tackles and logging six career picks, serving as a captain and earning All-ACC honors during his senior season.
"The Bills got themselves a gem of a player and person," Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said after Buffalo made him a sixth-round pick in 2021, per The Athletic. "Damar was the quarterback of our defense. He's smart, tough and such a sure tackler back there. He is going to be a difference-maker for Buffalo."
Blossoming with the Bills
As a sixth-round rookie with Buffalo, Hamlin appeared in 14 games as a rookie, serving as a top backup behind the play-making safety duo of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, who combined for 10 interceptions during the Bills' run to the playoffs, where Hamlin logged another two game appearances. He became a starting safety two games into the 2022 season, replacing Hyde after the latter landed on injured reserve. In 13 starts and 15 games, Hamlin logged 91 tackles, six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble.
Hamlin grew up idolizing former Jets star cornerback Darrelle Revis, a fellow Pittsburgh alumnus, according to the Bills. As a pre-teen, he worked for his parents' cleaning business. More recently, he branched out into his own business ventures, creating a clothing brand called Chasing M's, dedicated to "those who have a dream and pursue it ... and can't settle to be average." Hamlin has donated clothes from his brand to Pittsburgh-area high schools.