ESPYS to honor Buffalo Bills training staff for life-saving response to Damar Hamlin collapse

The world's best athletes and biggest stars will join ESPN for The 2023 ESPY Awards, airing at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC

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Wednesday, July 12, 2023
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Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane told reporters on Tuesday that Damar Hamlin has seen three specialists and all have declared him "fully cleared."

LOS ANGELES -- Members of the Buffalo Bills athletic training staff will be honored during the 2023 ESPYS for the life-saving measures performed when safety Damar Hamlin collapsed in January.

Bills athletic trainers who assisted in Hamlin's treatment will be awarded the Pat Tillman Award for Service, which goes to a group or an individual 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.

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2.

Buffalo Bills players and staff pray for Bills safety Damar Hamlin during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jan. 2, 2023, in Cincinnati.
AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel, File

Denny Kellington, the assistant athletic trainer for the Bills, immediately began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, on Hamlin. If CPR is performed on a patient immediately, it can double or triple the odds of survival, according to the American Heart Association.

"I owe Denny my life," Hamlin told "Good Morning America" anchor Michael Strahan in a February 2023 interview ." "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."

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Emergency personnel also used an automated external defibrillator, or an AED, before he was taken to an area hospital for further treatment.

Doctors have described his recovery as "remarkable" and it didn't take him long to start walking again, eating regular food and starting physical therapy.

Hamlin, 25, announced in April that he has been cleared physically to resume playing, saying the mental journey and roller coaster of emotions has been the "hardest hurdle" in his efforts to return to playing football.

Past recipients of the Pat Tillman Award for Service include Gretchen Evans (2022), Kim Clavel (2020), and Jake Wood (2019).

The world's best athletes and biggest stars will join ESPN for The 2023 ESPY Awards, airing July 12 at 8|7c on ABC.

ABC Owned TV Stations contributed to this report.