Damar Hamlin's recovery has progressed to the point that the Buffalo Bills safety has posted his first public statement.
Five days after Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field of a "Monday Night Football" game, Hamlin posted a thank you to all his supporters on Instagram. He called the love he has received since the life-threatening incident "overwhelming."
Hamlin's full statement:
When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3x’s as much.. 🏾🏾🏾 The Love has been overwhelming, but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. We brung the world back together behind this. If you know me you know this only gone make me stronger. On a long road keep praying for me! 🏾❤️3️⃣
He posted a shorter version of the statement on Twitter as well.
The love Hamlin has received has indeed been impressive, most recently with a series of tributes in this weekend's NFL games. His plight immediately triggered a torrent of prayers and well-wishes, as well as the suspension of the game, and has left the world waiting and hoping for good news.
Many of those supporters have flocked to a GoFundMe that Hamlin set up two years ago to support a toy drive at his mother's day care in his hometown of McKee Rocks, Pennsylvania. The fundraiser had an initial goal of $2,500, but has since raised more than $8.2 million as of Saturday afternoon.
Damar Hamlin still in ICU, but improving
Hamlin remains in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he has been since his collapse. Earlier on Saturday, the Bills announced that the safety is making continued progress, continuing to breathe on his own with "excellent" neurological function.
That's pretty much the best-case scenario given where Hamlin was just a few days ago. His life was saved by EMTs on the field in Cincinnati, who performed CPR on him for 10 minutes before loading him into the ambulance. He remained unconscious until Thursday, when he doctors announced he appeared to be neurologically intact.
His progress continued on Friday, to the point he no longer needed a breathing tube and was awake enough to FaceTime his teammates.