Pittsburgh area, nation praying for McKees Rocks’ own Damar Hamlin

DAMAR HAMLIN, shown here as he signed with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 2021.

Central Catholic, Pitt standout seriously injured during Monday Night Football game

By now, the entire nation has heard about or seen the devastating event that occurred on the Cincinnati Bengals’ home football field the night of Monday, Jan. 2. But for us in the Pittsburgh area, it affects us differently, because he’s one of ours.

Damar Hamlin, the pride and joy of McKees Rocks, whom so many remember playing football around McKees Rocks, around Pittsburgh, and of course at the University of Pittsburgh, is in everyone around here’s prayers, hoping for a recovery.

Hamlin, 24, made a tackle for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football against a Cincinnati Bengals player, midway through the first quarter. As Hamlin stood up after the tackle, he suddenly collapsed, sending the country into stunned silence. As football players cried on the field, first responders were seen giving Hamlin CPR and a defibrillator, as other players watched helpless.

Eventually, an ambulance was driven onto the field and Hamlin was rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, about 10 minutes from the Downtown Cincinnati stadium.

The NFL postponed the game.


For about five hours, the entire country did not know what to think. Just before 2 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3, the Bills released a statement saying that Hamlin had gone into cardiac arrest. However, EMTs were able to restore Hamlin’s heartbeat while on the field, which, to many, signaled positive news. As of Tuesday evening, Jan. 3, Hamlin is still in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati hospital, family by his side.

DAMAR HAMLIN, with his mother, Nina, during his senior season at Pitt.

In high school, Hamlin played for Central Catholic, in Oakland. He graduated from Central in 2016.
“Central Catholic High School is praying for the well-being and swift recovery of Damar Hamlin,” the school tweeted late Monday night, Jan. 2. “May the Lord be with him and his family during this most difficult time.”


Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi released a statement Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 3: “Damar Hamlin is far more than just a football player. He’s a loving son, brother and friend. Damar is a hero to thousands of Pittsburgh kids. Damar, we love you. We are praying for you. Pittsburgh’s always had your back. And now it’s obvious the entire country has your back, too.”

DAMAR HAMLIN chooses Pitt on KDKA-TV, over Ohio State and Penn State…

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, at his usual Tuesday press conference, told reporters he has known Hamlin since Hamlin was about 12. “Got a lot of respect and love for him as a human being, his commitment to the pursuit of his goals and dreams of doing what it is he’s doing right now, which is playing in the NFL,” Tomlin said. “It’s just an honor to get to know young people like that.”

As the country scoured social media Monday night and Tuesday morning learning more about Hamlin, people found that Hamlin had started a toy drive for kids in the McKees Rocks area back in 2020, during the prime of the COVID pandemic. He was still a player at Pitt at the time, and his goal, according to the Go Fund Me online account, was $2,500.

“As I embark on my journey to the NFL, I will never forget where I come from and I am committed to using my platform to positively impact the community that raised me,” Hamlin wrote online at the time.

Well, as of Tuesday evening, more than $5 million had been raised —in less than 24 hours.

DAMAR HAMLIN, center, with family.

On Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 3, the Hamlin family released an official statement: “On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time. We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words, and donations from fans around the country.

We also want to acknowledge the dedicated first responders and healthcare professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who have provided exceptional care to Damar. We feel so blessed to be part of the Buffalo Bills organization and to have their support. We also want to thank Coach Taylor and the Bengals for everything they’ve done. Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us.”

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