A Heart-stopping Injury: Damar Hamlin

Helena Carroll, Staff writer

On January 2, 2023, the Buffalo Bills experienced a heart-stopping tragedy. Defensive back Damar Hamlin suffered from cardiac arrest after tackling Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.  After the tackle, Hamlin stepped away and then proceeded to collapse to the ground. He was given CPR as well as put on an automated external defibrillator to regain regular pulse and then promptly rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he still currently is recovering as of today. The injury happened in the first quarter of Monday night’s football game leading to the event being canceled about an hour later due to the gravity of the situation and the impact it caused the teams and the sports world itself. Although they first only thought to postpone the game after the injury, the final decision to cancel altogether was somewhat surprising due to the rare occurrence of game cancellations in the past.

Following the cardiac arrest, the sports world spoke up. Players from teams all over were reaching out to send love and prayers to Hamlin’s recovery, family, and team. This incident showed a rare side to this intense sport that many don’t often see, a true sense of family, love, and connection.(2) The undying love from the team will continue to show over the next few weeks. The team plans to wear Hamlin’s number, 3, at the next games on patches during the gameplay as well as wearing pregame shirts in honor of him.(4) The support and love continues to show with the abundance of contributions towards GoFundMe and charity accounts, donated in Hamlin’s name. Hamlin’s family has asked those who wish support to also provide money towards the hospital at which Hamlin is getting his care, as well as his charity. The Chasing M’s Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on giving back to those who helped Hamlin become the man and athlete he is today. The profits go towards toy drives, schools, and “the next generation of youth.”(3)


Although there are still many possibilities to determine what exactly happened, commotio cordis is among those possibilities. This condition is extremely rare, unlike the occasion at which it happened. Tackling is an essential role within the position that Hamlin plays, as a safety his job includes tackling.


As of Friday, Hamlin continues to make great strides towards recovery. His breathing tube was removed, and he is confirmed to have regained neurological functions. Hamlin was also able to video call with his team from the hospital. Reports say that although Hamlin is able to speak again, it is still limited. During the call he was able to proclaim his love for the whole team through a few words and meaningful hand gestures. Although he is now breathing without assistance, and has started to regain movement and other simple functions, his recovery journey will still be long(5). Regardless, whether or not you are a sports fan, this story emphasizes the community in athletics as well as how quickly life can change.