Jessica Pegula Says Her Mom, Buffalo Bills Co-Owner Kim Pegula, Suffered Cardiac Arrest in June

Jessica Pegula has been prompted to detail the extent of her mom's health problems by the "bizarre, messed up, full circle moment" of Damar Hamlin's on-field cardiac arrest

Jessica and Kim Pegula
Photo: Robert Prange/Getty, AP/Shutterstock

Jessica Pegula is clearing the air about the health of her mother and Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula.

In an emotional essay titled "I Want to Talk to You About My Mom" for The Players' Tribune, the pro tennis player, 28, revealed that her 53-year-old mother went into cardiac arrest last June and is still recovering from the incident.

"This is a story about my mother, my family, and the past year," Pegula wrote in her essay, which she described as being inspired by the "bizarre, messed up, full circle moment" of Damar Hamlin's mid-game cardiac arrest.

"My stomach sunk because it felt like the exact same thing all over again," Jessica wrote about the impact of Hamlin's on-field emergency, which brought back memories of her mom's own medical struggles — something the Bills described as "unexpected health issues" in a June 2022 statement.

Jessica Pegula Reveals Mother Kim Suffered Cardiac Arrest Incident
Jessie Pegula/Instagram

"I was sitting on the bench for a tennis event in Sydney, Australia. I wanted to throw up. I was supposed to go on for mixed doubles in 15 minutes and I remember telling one of my teammates, 'I am a little freaked out right now, this is too close to home, and I feel like I am going to have a panic attack,'" added Jessica.

"I texted my husband, Taylor, that the situation with my mom was weighing on me. When can we start talking about it?" Jessica wrote. "When can I tell her story, my story, my family's story? Everyone just keeps asking me. I really need to get it off my chest."

On Monday, that's precisely what she did, while also praising the use of CPR for saving the life of both Hamlin and her mother.

"My mom was asleep when my dad woke up to her going into cardiac arrest and she was unresponsive for quite a while," she wrote. "My sister gave her CPR until the ambulance arrived. She saved her life. Even though she doesn't like to take credit for this terrible situation, she absolutely saved her life, followed by the critical job performed by the paramedics who arrived and were able to restore a heartbeat."

Jessica Pegula
Jessica Pegula. Phil Walter/Getty

Eight months later, Kim is continuing her recovery, her daughter said, but improving every day. Her mother is dealing with aphasia as well as significant memory issues.

"She can read, write, and understand pretty well, but she has trouble finding the words to respond," Jessica wrote. "It is hard to deal with and it takes a lot of patience to communicate with her, but I thank God every day that we can still communicate with her at all. The doctors continue to be blown away by her recovery, considering where she started, and her determination is the driving force of that."

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Jessica, her father Terry, 71, and her four siblings, are now adjusting to a different schedule as her mother steps away from helping to run the family's sports empire.

"She loved to work. She did everything and our family constantly told her how she needs to slow down and take time for herself. She was the woman behind my dad's success and my dad would happily admit that," she wrote. "Now we come to the realization that all of that is most likely gone. That she won't be able to be that person anymore."

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 02: Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) waits for the game to start during the Buffalo Bills versus Baltimore Ravens NFL game at M&T Bank Stadium on October 2, 2022 in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Damar Hamlin. Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire/Getty

After a personally triumphant season in which she finished ranked No. 3 in the world — and wore a No. 3 patch to honor Hamlin at the Australian Open — Jessica is now reflecting on the juxtaposition of her success and her mother's health condition.

In November, Jessica won her first WTA 1000 title in Guadalajara, Mexico, but her family was never far from her heart.

"In my acceptance speech I dedicated it to my mom," she wrote. "I wanted her to know that even after a terrible six months, I still fought every day because of her. If she could fight through what she was going through, I could too."

"She cried during my speech and trophy ceremony," added Jessica. "I have wanted this career since I was seven years old, before the sports teams, businesses, money, etc. My parents have helped me achieve this dream I am living. Even though we didn't always agree, they pushed me, and I pushed back, and it got me to where I am today."

"My mom deserved to see me lift a trophy after what she had been through."

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