Entertainment Sports Damar Hamlin Hugs the First Responders Who Saved His Life at NFL Honors: 'The Journey Will Continue' The Buffalo Bills safety, who suffered cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game in January, said he still has a "long journey ahead" By Julie Mazziotta Julie Mazziotta Twitter Julie Mazziotta is the Sports Editor at PEOPLE, covering everything from the NFL to tennis to Simone Biles and Tom Brady. She was previously an Associate Editor for the Health vertical for six years, and prior to joining PEOPLE worked at Health Magazine. When not covering professional athletes, Julie spends her time as a (very) amateur athlete, training for marathons, long bike trips and hikes. People Editorial Guidelines Published on February 9, 2023 10:55 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Damar Hamlin. Photo: nfl The year's best football players are usually the main focus of the annual NFL Honors. But this year, the first responders who saved Damar Hamlin's life were the stars of the show. During the Thursday night broadcast, the medical personnel who acted swiftly to revive Hamlin after he suffered cardiac arrest on the field during a game in January, were honored for their work. Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph introduced them on the stage, followed soon after by the 24-year-old Hamlin, to a standing ovation from the NFL players and celebrities in the crowd. All About Bills Safety Damar Hamlin: From Pennsylvania Kid to NFL Starter Hamlin then took the microphone to share his thank yous. "First I would like to just thank God for even being here," he began. "Sudden cardiac arrest was nothing I would've ever chosen to be a part of my story. But that's because sometimes, our own visions are too small. My vision was about playing in the NFL and being the best player I could be. "But God's plan was to have a purpose greater than any game in this world." Hamlin continued: "I have a long journey ahead, a journey full of unknowns and a journey full of milestones. But it's a lot easier to face your fears when you have a purpose." He then thanked the first responders who surrounded him on the stage, before pulling them all together in a group embrace. "I want to give a special thank you to everyone on this stage for everything they did for me," Hamlin said. "And thank you to everyone around the world who prayed for me and hoped for me. The journey will continue." nfl Hamlin was injured early in the first quarter of the Bills' Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals after making a tackle. The safety quickly popped back up, before suddenly collapsing. Medical personnel administered CPR to Hamlin and appeared to give him oxygen before the ambulance took him away. RELATED: Damar Hamlin Makes First Public Speaking Appearance as He Wins NFL Community Service Award He spent a week at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center before he was moved to another hospital in Buffalo, and then released another two days later. Hamlin has made steady progress since. His friend and business partner Jordon Rooney recently told ESPN that the Buffalo Bills safety "still has a lengthy recovery" ahead of him, "despite being out of the hospital." But he added that Hamlin remains "upbeat and positive and ready to continue to overcome this."