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NFL and Bills hero Damar Hamlin aspires to be 'the example I never had' away from football

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NFL and Bills hero Damar Hamlin aspires to be 'the example I never had' away from football

After the Bills’ Week 2 win over the Titans, Damar Hamlin offered an important insight when asked about seeing teammate Dane Jackson taken off on a stretcher.

‘Life is bigger than football,’ he said.

Monday night, Hamlin was forced off the field with cardiac arrest, as the safety was given CPR, taken to an ambulance and later listed as in critical condition by the NFL after tackling Tee Higgins of the Bengals.

Damar Hamlin is pictured with his mother, Nina, before the Bills played the Browns in an NFL game on Nov. 20 - Hamlin says how close he is to his family

Damar Hamlin is pictured with his mother, Nina, before the Bills played the Browns in an NFL game on Nov. 20 – Hamlin says how close he is to his family

Hamlin, pictured as a young football player, became a true NFL role model

Hamlin, pictured as a young football player, became a true NFL role model

Moments later Hamlin collapsed, falling backwards and motionless to the floor

Hamlin, No 3, collapsed playing for the Bills Monday Night, moments after making a tackle and his team later confirmed the 24-year-old had suffered a cardiac arrest

Hamlin’s family was watching his game against the Bengals, and came down to the field to be with him as he was loaded into the ambulance.

On November 20, Hamlin was photographed congratulating his family before Buffalo’s win over Cleveland, hugged his mother Nina already reported for the second time in that pregame.

The touching video represents his commitment to family.

Born when his mother was just 16-years-old, Hamlin said he was ‘very close’ to his family and it played a role in his decision to stay close to home in college.

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‘I have a baby brother [Damir Hamlin]he’s six years old now and that’s probably the biggest reason why I chose Pitt,’ he told News 4 Buffalo after he was drafted by the Bills two years ago.

‘I stay close to my family and then have my younger brother around so I can be a role model for him and just show him examples of life that I haven’t had,’ Hamlin said.

Hamlin credits his son Damir (pictured) with being 'an example I never got'

Hamlin credits his son Damir (pictured) with being ‘an example I never got’

Hamlin is known for his community work and started a toy foundation that delivers gifts to underprivileged children - here, he is pictured working for the scheme in December 2020

Hamlin is known for his community work and started a toy foundation that delivers gifts to underprivileged children – here, he is pictured working for the scheme in December 2020

Hamlin is pictured with his parents in a throwback Instagram post shared by the Bills player

Hamlin is pictured with his parents in a throwback Instagram post shared by the Bills player

That mission of being a role model extended beyond his family as well.

Before Hamlin was a 24-year-old, second-year safety for Buffalo with 30 games under his belt, he showed a commitment to charity in his local community.

A video came out on Monday night of Hamlin participating in a toy drive for children during his time at Pitt, where the budding player spoke about his reasons for giving back.

‘Only seeing role models in person. I feel like that’s big in kids’ lives and that’s something we don’t always get to experience in Pittsburgh,’ he said.

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‘Just being younger and seeing the difference from some people who have had role models in their lives.

‘Maybe all you have to do is work hard, stay focused. I am grateful that I can even be in this position to give.’

Hamlin also created ‘The Chasing M’s Foundation’ to ‘positively impact the community that raised me,’ with the charity’s first program being a toy drive for the holidays in December 2020.

He explained his motivation for returning on the toy drive’s GoFundMe page, along with his third annual toy drive held last week.

‘As I begin my NFL journey, I will never forget where I came from and I am committed to using my platform to have a positive impact on the community that raised me,’ he said.

Hamlin is pictured with mother Nina during his childhood playing days - he says he chose to stay close to home when attending college so he could be close to his family

Hamlin is pictured with mother Nina during his childhood playing days – he says he chose to stay close to home when attending college so he could be close to his family

The 24-year-old Hamlin (right) earns a salary of $825,000 playing for the Buffalo Bills

The 24-year-old Hamlin (right) earns a salary of $825,000 playing for the Buffalo Bills

‘This campaign gives you the opportunity to contribute to our first initiative and positively impact children who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

‘Thank you so much for supporting me on and off the field. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with you to help make the holiday season brighter for children in our community.’

Initially set for a goal of $2,500, the page was flooded with donations on Monday after news of his serious injury, with the page having $2.6million in donations at the time of writing.

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That’s nearly double Hamlin’s base salary of $825,000 for this season.

A quick scan of the page reveals great greetings from fans of the 49ers, Cowboys, Eagles, Chiefs, Dolphins, Giants and more.

Fans waited outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center all night after Monday's game, waiting for good news on Hamlin's condition

Fans waited outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center all night after Monday’s game, waiting for good news on Hamlin’s condition

‘Damar has always been the kind of person who raised me as a Pitt Alumn. It’s the least I can do in these difficult times,’ one person said.

Hamlin’s friend and marketing rep Jordon Rooney said on Twitter that the players’ ‘vitals are back to normal,’ while his agent Ira Turner told NFL Network there were no ‘updates on this. ‘

The Bills will pray that their teammate is OK.

And the Pittsburgh community is hoping for a beloved community figure to succeed.