The Buffalo Bills announced Thursday morning that safety Damar Hamlin was taking steps toward recovery despite remaining in “critically ill” condition. Hamlin’s agent, Ron Butler, and teammate Kaiir Elam later confirmed that Hamlin was awake and held hands with family members.


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“Our boy is doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement. Thank you God,” Elam said in a tweet.

Hamlin has been in the University of Cincinnati Medical Center since Monday night after collapsing in a game against the Bengals.

“Per the physicians caring for Damar Hamlin … Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours,” the Bills said in a statement. “While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress.”

Since entering the hospital on Monday, sources close to Hamlin have stated that the player was initially unable to breathe on his own and had to be resuscitated at least twice. This latest update is the first establishing definite improvement.

Extensive public support for Hamlin has come from fans, former and current players, coaches and league officials in the days since the incident. Dozens of supporters have gathered outside the hospital and held vigils and other demonstrations for the player.

Hamlin’s online toy drive, which had an initial goal of raising $2,500, has raised more than $7 million in three days. Countless NFL players, coaches and owners have donated. Every NFL team has changed the profile picture on Twitter to the same graphic, one of Hamlin’s jersey number.

“On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time,” the family said in a statement Tuesday. “We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words, and donations from fans around the country.”

The NFL announced Tuesday that the Bills-Bengals game would not be resumed this week after play was suspended Monday. It remains unclear when this game will be restarted or completed.

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