Damar Hamlin’s Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Damar Hamlin

Getty Damar Hamlin

Damar Hamlin was born on March 24, 1998. The Buffalo Bills star is the eldest of two sons born to Mario and Nina Hamlin.

The entire football world rallied around Hamlin when he collapsed on the field early into the Bills game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football on January 2, 2023. Video of the game showed that Hamlin suddenly collapsed after suffering a hit to his chest.

During a press conference in April 2023, Hamlin confirmed that he’d suffered a cardiac arrest caused by commotio cordis, a “rare cardiac arrest immediately following a blow to the chest,” according to the American Heart Association.

Hamlin revealed that he was medically cleared to return to football and said his intention was to return to the NFL. “I got a long journey to go, but I’m committed to it each day,” he said in his press conference. “So I thank everybody for being on this journey with me.” Three of the people who have been in his corner from the start are his parents and younger brother.

Here’s what you need to know about Damar Hamlin’s family:

1. Damar Hamlin Was Born & Raised in McKees Rocks, Just Outside Pittsburgh, & Helped His Mother With Work on Evenings & Weekends

Hamlin was born and raised in McKees Rocks, also known as “The Rocks,” a small town in the metropolitan area of Pittsburgh on the banks of the Ohio River. The town has one of the highest crime rates in the country at 63 per one thousand residents, according to Neighborhood Scout.

Hamlin lived with his parents, Mario and Nina Hamlin, in a neighborhood that was rife with drugs and gangs. In fact, his own father began selling drugs to try to support his family but ended up getting arrested and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for intent to sell drugs in 2010, according to GoLongTD.

Hamlin was 12 years old and he recalled, “You start to sense something,” he told the outlet. “And they said they were going to keep him. It broke my Mom. My Mom was crushed.” Mario Hamlin ended up serving 3-and-a-half years of his sentence, and it was a time period that saw Hamlin grow up quickly to help his mother make ends meet.

Before Mario Hamlin had been sentenced, he and his wife had started an office cleaning business, and Nina Hamlin was also running a daycare. After his father’s arrest, Hamlin began going with his mother to clean offices after school. “Wednesdays were always the longest day,” he recalled to the Democrat & Chronicle.

“My mom would be working at the daycare from six in the morning till six at night and then we would go clean our accounts until like 10 or 12 depending on the day,” he said. “Just stepping up to the plate, just being there for my mom, just trying to make it easy for her. I had that work ethic in me, that we’re like, nothing can ever be too much.”

However, he said it was hard to skip normal activities with his friends. “I wanted to be a kid — go to school, go home, play the game — but I really didn’t have that type of time,” he shared. “But it built up that hard work ethic, putting in that extra work, that mentality. My mom knew what she was doing the whole time, just building that in me.”

Hamlin also stayed in touch with his father through phone calls when he was in prison and credited not just his mother but his father too with helping to keep him “on track” despite the difficult area he was growing up in.

Mario Hamlin now has his own trucking company, GoLongTD reported, while Nina Hamlin is the co-owner of Kelly & Nina’s Daycare Center.

2. Damar Hamlin’s Parents Wanted to Keep Him on a Good Path & He Shared That Many of His Friends Were Killed When He Was Growing Up

It was really important for Hamlin’s parents to keep him on the straight and narrow and he pointed out how many of his friends and people he knew from the neighborhood had died. “I’d say I probably lost ten-plus friends on this journey,” he admitted to WIVB.

He said it’s in part why he’s pushed so hard to find success on the field as they “all had the same dream,” he explained. Hamlin said it was sometimes “tough,” especially when he was at the University of Pittsburgh and lost one of his close friends. “I was a leader for my team and I got through it,” he said. “You gotta keep rolling with the punches and I know what they wanted for me and it’s to be right here.”

In fact, the safety said that he feels like his friends are “all looking down smiling” at how far he’s come. He revealed that growing up in an environment like that taught him to “cherish everybody in your life because you never know who you’ll lose,” he told GoLongTD. “You could lose anybody. Everybody I talk to, I say ‘I love you.’ And that’s neighborhood tradition.”

3. Damar Hamlin’s Parents Were Both Very Supportive & He Said He’s ‘Very Close’ With Them & Values Their Opinions

Hamlin’s parents were both very supportive of Hamlin and he shared that he’s “extremely close” with his family in a WIVB interview. Mario Hamlin was 17 years old and Nina Hamlin was 16 when he was born, and he shared that he couldn’t imagine having to take care of a son when he was 16 years old.

“It was probably so stressful but both of my parents had me young, at sixteen and pretty much since that point they put everything they had into me to get me to where we are right now today,” he shared with the outlet. Hamlin credited having two parents who were supportive and who dedicated their lives to his upbringing as the difference maker in keeping him on track.

“There were times where I could have steered left or steered right but my parents were always there to straighten me out and get me back on the track,” he told the Democrat & Chronicle. “I’ve got to give out a credit to them, it really had nothing to do with me. The only thing I had to do was just listen and that’s the type of kid I was.”

In fact, Hamlin shared that even when his father was behind bars, he was still in his life. Moreover, he already had a strong moral compass and goals that had been established from a young age. “But just me being who I was and what was already instilled in me, I stayed focused,” he said.

Hamlin said his father “sacrificed a lot” for him and set him up to be successful, while his mother instilled in him “hard work and dedication,” he told The Globe. Even today, Hamlin shared that he’ll usually get his parents’ opinion before any undertaking and told Fox Sports’ Henry McKenna, “My life revolves around them.”

4. Damar Hamlin Has a Younger Brother, Damir Hamlin, & His Goal Is to Be a Mentor & Role Model for Him

Nina and Mario Hamlin welcomed their second child, a boy, in February 2015. Hamlin’s little brother, Damir Hamlin, is much younger than the Bills star but that hasn’t stopped them from having a tight bond. In fact, Hamlin said it was important for him to stay close to home in college because of his little brother and that’s why he chose Pitt.

“Just staying close to my family and then having my little brother around so I could be a role model for him and just show him examples of life that I’ve never really had,” he told WIVB. “I never had no one here to be that force of like this is what you should be doing [when it comes to a sibling role model], this is going to make you successful. I kind of had to figure it out as I was going up until this point, up until I found myself in a routine. So it’s just a blessing to be able to be that for him.”

Hamlin shared that his little brother was crying before the NFL draft because his big brother would likely be leaving home, but that he was happy to learn that Buffalo was only three hours away. Hamlin described his little brother, who has his own Instagram account, as a “natural-born leader.”

On February 23, 2023, Hamlin posted a message to his little brother on Instagram, writing, “Ever since my baby bro was born my mission was to have him grow up with a personal role model in his life that he could come to for anything & everything. Even staying home & going to Pitt was for you!! I’m so glad I was able to make it back home in time for your birthday there’s no place in the world I’d rather be.. 🫶🏾 love you for life baby boy @mir_mirsworld3.”

5. Damar Hamlin’s Family & Community Rallied Around Him After He Suffered a Cardiac Arrest During Monday Night Football

Hamlin’s family and community rallied around the Bills safety after his scary on-field cardiac arrest on January 2, 2023. As the Gazette 2.0 reported, Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored on the field with CPR and the NFL star was placed in a medically-induced coma until January 5.

On January 9, Hamlin was discharged from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, the same day that his community in McKees Rocks was gathered for a prayer vigil.

“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,” Hamlin’s family shared on January 3.

On January 28, Hamlin shared a video message on his Instagram, speaking publicly for the first time since his cardiac arrest. He thanked the doctors and first responders who saved his life, from the medical personnel at the field to those at the hospital. He said it was “a lot to process.” He thanked his family for their support and then expressed his gratitude for the well-wishes.

“While I’m so thankful to everybody, I know that it isn’t enough just to be thankful,” he concluded. “This is just the beginning of the impact that I wanted to have on the world and with God’s guidance I will continue to do wonderful ad great things. I couldn’t do this without any of the support and the love and I can’t wait to continue to take you all on this journey with me.”

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