Steelers’ Mike Tomlin reflects on long relationship with Damar Hamlin: ‘I have a lot of love for that young man’

The condition of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on Tuesday weighed heavily on his teammates, coaches and family, and on Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

Tomlin spoke to reporters and said he has known Hamlin since the defensive back was rising through the youth soccer ranks. Hamlin grew up in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, located just outside of Pittsburgh. He attended Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School and went to the University of Pittsburgh.

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Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin looks on during a Ravens game on January 1, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

“I’ll say this about Damar Hamlin: It’s a very personal thing for me, being from Pittsburgh and that young being from Pittsburgh, I’ve known him probably since he was about 12 years old,” Tomlin said. “I have a lot of respect and love for him as a human being, his commitment to pursuing his goals and dreams of making what he is now, which is playing in the NFL. Watching him make personal decisions, and making that a reality, is an honor to meet young people like that.

“I’ve had a chance to express that to him every time I see him. We’ve played Buffalo in each of the last two seasons and he and I had a moment because it’s great to not just appreciate these guys in terms of where they play now, just knowing them since they were young and watching their maturation, their development, watching them win what they’ve been chasing, is really a great thing, and he’s an example of that.

Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills reacts after an inning loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Highmark Stadium on October 9, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York.

Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills reacts after an inning loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Highmark Stadium on October 9, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York.
(Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

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“I have a lot of love for that young man. I have lifted him and that organization up in prayer. I reached out to Sean McDermott to give him all the help I could. But I don’t have much to add other than that. I just respect the fact that you guys They appreciate how personal it is to me, not just to me, but to all of us.”

The Bills have provided an update on Hamlin’s condition after he went into cardiac arrest while trying to face Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. He was rushed to hospital after needing his heartbeat restored on the field.

Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills before the Dolphins game at Hard Rock Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills before the Dolphins game at Hard Rock Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
(Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

“Damar Hamlin spent last night in the intensive care unit and remains there today in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center,” the organization said.

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“We are grateful and appreciative of the tremendous amount of support we have received thus far.”