The Full Story of Damar Hamlin’s Gut Wrenching injury

January 3, 2023, was a highly anticipated night in the sporting world. The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, two of the best teams in the National Football League, were going head to head in a game with major playoff implications on Monday Night Football. But something much bigger than the game, playoffs, or sports in general happened that nobody in attendance, or watching on ESPN, could’ve imagined they would witness.

Bengals long snapper on Damar Hamlin: 'I believe wholeheartedly in the power of prayer' | Fox News

The game rocketed off to a fast start, Joe Burrow and the Bangles marched down the field and scored a touchdown on their opening drive. The Bills looked like they were about to answer with a touchdown of their own, but the drive stalled out in the red zone, which forced Buffalo to kick a field goal.

With the game rolling and the stadium rocking, fans were pumped up for the game the teams had in store. But 9 minutes into the game, on what looked like a routine play, Bengals receiver, Tee Higgins lowered his helmet to attempt to break a tackle, and hit Bill’s safety, Damar Hamlin, in the chest.

Tee Higgins Tweets Support For Damar Hamlin; ESPN's Bart Scott Criticizes Higgins For Hit On Safety | Yardbarker

At first, nothing seemed to be wrong. Both players got back up and were ready to line back up. But as soon as he had gotten up, Damar Hamlin collapsed to the ground. As the medical staff came out, the Cincinnati crowd-which has become so desensitized to injuries like so many other NFL fans have- grew restless for the game to continue. But as we saw players screaming and crying for their teammates, the crowd fell silent.

Damar Hamlin Injury Video: Bills Safety Horribly Collapses Mid-Game After Taking a Hit; Worried Fans Gather Outside UC Medical Facility - The SportsRush

Medical teams from both sidelines rushed onto the field, followed by an ambulance coming through one of the tunnels. As the Bills crowded around Damar to see what was wrong, they witnessed a horrifying sight, the medical team administering CPR to their teammate. As Bills players began to break down in tears, players from the opposing Bengals came over to try to comfort their opponents. What had started as a brutal battle, had become a somber truce.

Catholic high school prays for critically injured Bills safety

While Damar was being taken off the field by the ambulance, with the medical issue still unknown to the players, media, and fans, the Bills team prayed for him. After the fact, the league told the players and coaches that the game was too important to reschedule, and they would be given five minutes to gather themselves. But the two head coaches met on Bill’s sideline, and shortly after, both teams reported to their locker rooms. 

Players Call for Prayer After Bills Safety Damar Hamlin Has Cardiac Arrest

The media was trying to figure out what was going on with the game, reports started to flow in about what had happened on the field. The first report that came out said that his heart stopped beating, others were saying that he had stopped breathing. The only thing we knew for sure was that he was taken from the stadium to the University of Cincinnati Hospital, where he was listed as in critical condition, and not breathing on his own.

Once that information was released, there was no chance the players were going back onto the field. The game was called and the stands were emptied. As the players were walking out of the stadium, Tee Higgins- the player who hit Hamlin- walked out in tears with his mother in his arms. Everyone is hoping Tee is alright mentally. No person should have to live with the weight of what he had done, especially when this was a freak accident and Higgins was just playing football.

NFL fans react as Tee Higgins' mother consoles Bengals star after Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest

As the night went on, the last information we were given was that Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest. His vitals were normal and he is alive, but as of  January 4, he was not breathing on his own and had been asleep since he was brought to the hospital. There have been a few updates since.

Instead of just going home, around 5,000 made the trip to the hospital. They have built a memorial of sorts for Damar and his family outside of what we believe to be his window for when he wakes up. The fans in Cincy have been going to it and praying for him ever since.

Fans, former players show support for Damar Hamlin after collapse | whas11.comDamar was a second-round pick by the Bills in the 2021 draft out of Pitt. He took over a starting spot for the defense due to their heavily injured secondary, and has run with it ever since. He has been praised by the team’s front office and coaches for his work ethic, but above all, he is a fantastic person and teammate. 

Damar Hamlin: NFL player 'beginning to awaken' and asked doctors who won the game | US News | Sky News

If there are any silver linings from the situation, Damar does a toy drive for his hometown every year. This year’s goal was $2,500; the total has reached $6 million and is still going up. 

Video: Donations soar for Damar Hamlin's charity for children affected by pandemic | CNN

The NFL will not reschedule the game, but that is of course secondary. The only thing on anyone’s mind was Damar Hamlin and the hope that he would be okay.

Fans contribute more than $4M to Damar Hamlin charity toy drive | Reuters

It has now been a full week since the incident, and it seems to be coming to an uplifting close. Damar woke up on Thursday and was speaking and breathing on his own by Friday. After waking up, his first written words were “Did we win?” After hearing that, the doctor said “Yes, you won. You won the game of life.” So far, his recovery has been remarkable, let’s all hope he keeps heading in the right direction.

Damar Hamlin update: Bills safety remains in critical condition after collapsing on field