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A tearful Damar Hamlin presents ESPY Award to the team that saved his life


An emotional, silent pause from Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is what brought a massive crowd to its feet last night.


FLORIDO: It was the Excellence In Sports Performance Yearly awards show, better known as the ESPYs.


And with his head bowed and tears flowing, Hamlin gathered himself and approached the microphone.


DAMAR HAMLIN: Please welcome this year's recipient of the Pat Tillman Award for Service - the training staff of the Buffalo Bills.


KELLY: From there, members of that training staff filed onto the stage and circled Hamlin, their arms stretched out to embrace him.


NATE BRESKE: OK. My name is Nate Breske. I'm the head athletic trainer for the Buffalo Bills.

FLORIDO: These were some of the same people who had surrounded Hamlin back in January when he collapsed from cardiac arrest during a game.


LISA SALTERS: Welcome back to Cincinnati, where medical personnel have been working on Bills safety Damar Hamlin for the last...

FLORIDO: After a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals, Hamlin fell backwards. His heart had stopped.

KELLY: The game was postponed as fans, as the nation, watched, stunned and terrified.


SALTERS: On the field right now, several players are down on their knees. Other players are holding hands, praying. You can just see the worried looks on their faces.

KELLY: Medical professionals were able to restore Hamlin's heartbeat on the field, but he was taken to the hospital in critical condition. And then, he made a remarkable recovery.


BRESKE: By the grace of God and divine intervention, we had the best outcome we could have prayed for or imagined.

FLORIDO: That's Nate Breske, the Bills athletic trainer again, speaking at last night's awards. He acknowledged the massive team who helped save Hamlin's life, and he issued this message.


BRESKE: Learn CPR and how to use an AED because they save lives.

KELLY: Breske also returned the gratitude that Damar Hamlin had expressed towards him and the training staff.


BRESKE: Damar, first and foremost, thank you for staying alive, brother.


FLORIDO: That drew a big smile from Hamlin, who hasn't played since his cardiac arrest. But he plans to return to the field.

HAMLIN: After presenting the award last night, Hamlin tweeted, quote, "a room full of greatness did it for me."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jonaki Mehta is a producer for All Things Considered. Before ATC, she worked at Neon Hum Media where she produced a documentary series and talk show. Prior to that, Mehta was a producer at Member station KPCC and director/associate producer at Marketplace Morning Report, where she helped shape the morning's business news.
Ashley Brown is a senior editor for All Things Considered.
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