Damar Hamlin's on-field collapse Monday night and the events that unfolded after will forever be remembered by the millions of sports fans who had tuned in to the game's broadcast.
The Buffalo Bills safety went into cardiac arrest after tackling Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. His heartbeat was restored, and he was transported to UC Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition as of this writing. Tears streamed down his teammates' faces on the field, as the rest of the world watched in horror while praying for the best.
One of those praying was Damar's mother, Nina, whom he's had a close relationship with since he was a little boy. She was reportedly in attendance at Monday night's game in Cincinnati and rode in the ambulance with Damar, an unthinkable thing for any mother to have to do.
Damar Hamlin's Parents Made Sacrifices to Help His NFL Dreams
Damar Hamlin's story has been well documented by now. The 24-year-old was born in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, to Nina and Mario Hamlin when Nina was 16.
His first job was working for his parents' cleaning business when he was 12. When he was one of Pennsylvania's highest-rated recruits out of high school, he had offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame and just about every other major Power 5 program. But he chose Pitt to stay near his parents and his little brother, Damir Hamlin.
"I've got a baby brother [Damir Hamlin], he's 6 years old right now and that was the biggest reason probably why I chose Pitt," he told News 4 Buffalo after he was drafted by the Bills in 2021.
"Just staying close to my family and then having my little brother around so I could be a role model for him and just show him examples of life that I've never really had."
It's clear that Damar is extremely close to Nina. In a video that's now gone viral, He is seen embracing her and other family members before the Bills' win over the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 20 at Ford Field.
Damar Hamlin gets in a second to hug his mom, Nina and family pregame.
— Jenna Cottrell (@JennaCottrell) November 20, 2022
Back in May, he posted a photo of his younger self dressed in football gear with his mother for Mother's Day.
"You gave me life now it's my turn to give you one..Happy Mothers Day To All," he wrote.
You gave me life now it?s my turn to give you one.. ??? #soon
Happy Mothers Day To All.. ? pic.twitter.com/G4MPdpHczX
— ????? ?????? (@HamlinIsland) May 8, 2022
And in September 2021, he wished his parents a happy anniversary. The pair was right by his side when he chose Pitt coming out of high school, and they were able to watch him get drafted by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Happy Anniversary To My Parents!? 14 Years Strong! Love Y?all To The Moon & Back! ??. pic.twitter.com/4iCEmfM8a3
— ????? ?????? (@HamlinIsland) September 22, 2021
#Bills safety Damar Hamlin was asked what's important to him aside from football.
"I'm big on my family unit. My mom, my dad, my little brother --- that's pretty much my whole world. .... Any other thing going on in my life revolves around them." pic.twitter.com/wLuY8qRyLi
— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) January 3, 2023
As we continue hoping for the best for Hamlin and his family, fans can donate to his foundation's toy drive via GoFundMe. The Chasing M's Foundation first started it in 2020 with a goal of $2,500. That number is now well over $4.5 million.
"This fundraiser was initially established to support a toy drive for Damar's community, sponsored by the Chasing M's Foundation. However, it has received renewed support in light of Damar's current battle and we can't thank all of you enough. Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us," his GoFundMe reads. "If you would like to show your support and contribute to Damar's community initiatives and his current fight, this is the place to do so. This is the only current fund that is being used by the Hamlin Family. Again, thank you for your thoughts, prayers and generous support during this time."
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