NEW YORK – The New York Yankees honored Damar Hamlin as part of the 14th edition of their HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) on Monday.
Hamlin has become a household name, but it didn’t exactly occur the way he had hoped. The Buffalo Bills safety went into cardiac arrest after making a routine tackle on Jan. 2 on “Monday Night Football.” Trainers administered CPR for nine minutes on the then-24-year-old, and when he was first admitted into the hospital, he was in critical condition.
But six months and a day later, he’s spreading awareness on what saved his life.
Hamlin, members of the American Heart Association and NYC Public School Athletic Leagues, and Sarah Taffet, a former Fordham softball player who, too, needed CPR during a game after she was tagged in the chest, made the trip to the Bronx to teach CPR to members the Yankees.
The safety has been in the spotlight more and more since the incident – he recently threw out the first pitch at a game for his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates, and will do the same before Monday night’s Yankees game. He will also be honored at the ESPY Awards, appeared on “The Masked Singer,” and made the trip to the NFL Honors in February, just a month after the scary moment.
This, of course, is coupled with the fact that he practiced with his team at OTAs several weeks ago.
However, teaming up with the Yankees could have an impact unlike any other, Hamlin says.
“For them to take the time out in the middle of their stretch, to come out here and learn CPR, people seeing figures like them in the community, everyone looks up to the Yankees,” Hamlin told reporters after class was dismissed. “They’re such a staple in history. For people getting to see them come out here and learn CPR, it will have a big trickle effect to the rest of the world that want to get trained.”
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Hamlin is entering his third NFL season – of course, he hoped everyone would know his name for another reason aside from “the guy that almost died on the field.” But he’s turned one of the worst days of his life into not only a positive, but his mission in life.
“It makes me feel like I’m doing my part and making an impact of changing the world,” Hamlin said. “That’s been my goal my entire life. Before any of this, I had my eyes set on making an impact on the world somehow. I didn’t know how that would be, but I’m fine with this platform, and I’m fine with the story, as well. So I’ma continue to keep doing my part and making an impact on the world and changing it.”
“To be able to learn this now, and hopefully I’ll never have to use it on someone, but if I do, I’ll be ready,” Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who admitted he never learned CPR before Monday, told reporters.
Rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe echoed Rizzo’s sentiments.
“It’s amazing. Everyone can save a life,” Volpe said. “Obviously, we never want to use what we all learned today, but for them to take the time was pretty special.”
The Yankees donated $10,000 to the American Heart Association, as well.
Hamlin’s Bills open up the season just a few miles away from Yankee Stadium when they’ll face the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 11 – fittingly, a Monday night.