When Tamar Hamlin was a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, she moved to her hometown of McKees Rocks, Pa., near Pittsburgh. When Hamlin finished his college playing career, in December 2020, he set up a fundraiser for a community toy movement.
“As I begin 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 at the time. He explained that the toys would be distributed at a day care center run by his mother, Nina.
Hamlin wrote just months before the Buffalo Bills selected him in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Monday night, that GoFundMe page, still active, became a way for thousands of people across the country to show support for Hamlin after he collapsed on the field during a nationally televised game between the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. In the first quarter of the game, Hamlin was hit in the chest and head while tackling Cincinnati receiver Dee Higgins. Hamlin stood up after the hit, but then fell backwards on the turf and his body went limp.
The NFL’s statement announcing the game’s postponement said Hamlin was in critical condition after being taken to a Cincinnati hospital.
Hamlin, 24, stepped into the starting safety role for the Bills in September after Micah Hyde suffered a season-ending neck injury. Before joining the NFL, Hamlin was a team captain and the centerpiece of Pitt’s defense, leading the team in interceptions and pass breakups during his senior season in 2020.
Hamlin attended Pittsburgh’s Central Catholic High School, where he was recognized as one of the state’s best players and helped lead his team to a championship in the competitive Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League. He chose to attend Pitt to be close to his family, including a younger brother who was a toddler at the time. “I wanted him to develop a role model in his life and give him someone to model himself on,” Hamlin said. told reporters.
Hamlin’s first job, at age 12, was working for his family’s janitorial business.
His mother, Nina, was reportedly at the game in Cincinnati and accompanied her son to the hospital. Within hours of Hamlin being rushed to the hospital, a GoFundMe page he set up two years ago had raised more than $3 million.