Indianapolis Colts defensive back Rodney Thomas II played with Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin at Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School, and when he learned of his former teammate’s medical emergency Monday night, went into action.
Thomas spoke to reporters on Wednesday and detailed his own reaction to the whole ordeal. He said he didn’t realize what happened to Hamlin until his father FaceTimed him. He said he caught emergency personnel loading Hamlin into the back of an ambulance as Bills and Bengals players wept on the field. He got in his car and made the 111-mile walk to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
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«I had a goal,» Thomas said, via the team’s website. «I knew where he was going, so I just hit the road and just went. Laser focused.»
Thomas and Hamlin are very good friends and spoke just before the Bills played the Bengals. When he arrived at the ICU, Thomas said he held Hamlin’s hand and spoke to his friend again while he was sedated.
«I know you could hear me,» he said. «Even if he couldn’t hear me, it didn’t matter. I said what I had to say.»
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Thomas said the quick interaction straightened him up and allowed him to breathe easier. He said that he made the trip home so much better. He praised Hamlin’s character and work ethic and believed that Hamlin would eventually be released from the hospital.
«There’s no question in my mind,» Thomas said. «He’s a fighter. I don’t have any other thoughts in my mind of him going off on his own.»
The Bills provided an update on Hamlin early Wednesday.
«Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight,» the team said.
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«He is expected to remain in intensive care while his healthcare team continues to monitor and treat him.»