ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — What was once routine for Damar Hamlin, putting on his helmet and heading to practice, has become something the Buffalo Bills safety decided to celebrate with. a call to his parents.
That’s what happened last week, general manager Brandon Beane said Tuesday, after Hamlin participated in a normal practice for the first time in the six months since he nearly died during a game in Cincinnati.
“I’m just so proud of him and excited at the stage he’s reached on this journey,” Beane emphasized.
“He still has more milestones to hit. But in retrospect, we are at the beginning of June. Just at the beginning of January we only hoped that he would live. Now not only does he have a normal life, but we’re talking about him playing not just football, but NFL football.”
The Bills’ practice Tuesday was the first time reporters were allowed to see Hamlin, who wore his helmet and participated in several plays, Beane said.
Hamlin enjoyed his first full session on May 31, in a practice closed to the press. After that workout, the player called his parents in Pittsburgh.
Previously, Hamlin had been limited to participating in individual practices or stretching since May 22, when the Bills’ voluntary spring sessions opened. The 25-year-old has been determined to resume his sports career after going into cardiac arrest that required CPR in the middle of a game on January 2 after performing a seemingly ordinary takedown against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The chilling collapse led to the NFL canceling the game. Hamlin spent 10 days recovering in hospitals in Cincinnati and Buffalo.
In his third year within the league, Hamlin was given the go-ahead to play in April. He has spent the better part of the last two months training on the equipment setup.
On Tuesday, Hamlin looked optimistic. He waved at the cameras pointing his way during the pre-practice drills.