Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin plans on returning to the field but allowing himself time to heal emotionally after going into cardiac arrest during the Bills’ game against Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2, 2023.
In a sitdown with Good Morning America‘s Michael Strahan, Hamlin got candid about his recovery after the collapse. Toward the end of the interview, Strahan asked Hamlin if he wanted to return to football, to which he said it was his goal.
“Eventually, that’s always the goal, but I’m allowing that to be in God’s hands,” the 24-year-old responded.
Asked if doctors approved his possible return to the field, Hamlin said it was complicated.
“It’s a tough situation,” he said. “They can’t really tell because it’s an up-to-me thing, I guess, or…it’s a long road. They just were worrying about trying to get me back to normal as much as they can.”
Hamlin mentioned that he didn’t feel ill before the game started, stating that the entire team was solely focused on winning. However, after standing up following a tackle he made, he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. The 24-year-old struggled to talk about the scary moment but thanked the Bills’ assistant athletic trainer, Denny Kellington, who swiftly went into performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the young athlete.
“I owe Denny my life,” he told Strahan. “Literally. He loves to say he was just doing his job, which is true, you know? And that night, he was literally the savior of my life. I’m truly thankful, and I don’t take for granted.”
Medical personnel transported the critically-injured Hamlin to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he spent many days in the ICU. For about three of those days, he was on a ventilator.
Hamlin said he was surrounded by friends and family the day he woke up and communicated with them through writing. The first thing he asked was, “Did we win?”
The Bills vs. Bengals game was canceled.
Watch the interview below.