Damar Hamlin Tears Up While Presenting Buffalo Bills Training Staff With Pat Tillman Award at 2023 ESPY Awards

The team's training staff received the Pat Tillman Award for Service in honor of its part providing life-saving medical care to Hamlin.

Damar Hamlin got to give back to his Buffalo Bills family in a big way at the 2023 ESPY Awards on Sunday night, and got emotional as he reflected on the fateful day when he almost lost his life.

The 25-year-old athlete presented the team's training staff with this year's Pat Tillman Award for Service in honor of their part in providing life-saving medical care to him during his near-fatal incident on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in January.

Hamlin came out on the stage and introduced a video, which he narrated, recalling how his life was saved by the training staff and how they became his heroes.

"Thanks to their training, their poise and their commitment to serve others, the Bills training staff kept me alive," Hamlin explained in the video. "I didn't wake up that morning in January thinking that I would need someone to save my life that day, and I doubt that the training staff thought that they would have to do what they did either."

"That, as much as anything else, is what I took away from what happened to me six and a half months ago -- that any of us, at any given time, are capable of doing something as incredible as saving a life, and living a life in service of others," he added. "It's a blessing."

As the video package ended, Hamlin could be seen wiping tears from his eyes as he was overcome by his gratitude for the training staff and memories of the frightening incident. As he fought back tears, he was met with a standing ovation from the entire audience, who cheered for the young athlete and his resilience.

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The training and medical team who saved Hamlin's life came out to accept the award, and before delivering their speech they shared a group hug and celebrated the moving moment together.

Head Athletic Trainer Nate Breske spoke on behalf of the staff and reflected on the incident, and the importance of learning CPR, before thanking Hamlin directly.

"Damar, first and foremost, thank you for staying alive, brother," Breske said with a warm smile. "Seriously, we are so honored to be standing up here with such a strong and courageous human being."

The award proved to be one of the most memorable and emotional moments from Wednesday's awards show.

With 5:58 left to go in the first quarter of the Bills' Week 17 game on Monday Night Football, the Bills safety collided with Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins as he tackled the Bengals' star wide receiver. Hamlin immediately collapsed in the process of standing back up, prompting the Bills' assistant athletic trainer, Denny Kellington, to immediately begin performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, on Hamlin.

The athlete was taken off the field by ambulance and went to UC Medical Center after receiving CPR and automated external defibrillation (AED), where he remained in critical condition for an extended amount of time. Per Hamlin's uncle, Dorrian Glenn, the defensive back had to be resuscitated twice and was put on a ventilator to help with his breathing after sustaining damage to his lungs following the game tackle.

The game was halted and later canceled.

Four days after his cardiac arrest episode, Hamlin woke up and was able to communicate with family and teammates. One of the first questions Hamlin asked if the Bills won the game. Not only did the Bills pay tribute to Hamlin in their first game on the field since the scary tackle, the team also honored the medical staff that helped save the second-year pro's life.

In his first interview after the scary incident, Hamlin sat down with Good Morning America co-anchor and former NFL pro Michael Strahan to talk about his "remarkable" recovery and whether he’ll be back on the field. During the interview, Strahan pointed out that Kellington is the one who alerted everyone on the sidelines that Hamlin's medical condition was serious.

"I owe Denny my life," Hamlin said. "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."

He added, "I'm truly thankful for and I don't take for granted."

The Tillman Award is presented annually to "a group with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger, Pat Tillman." Tillman played for the Arizona Cardinals before leaving the NFL to serve in the military less than a year after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Tillman was killed by friendly fire while on deployment in 2004.

The 2023 ESPYS kicked off Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Check out the night's full list of big winners here!