EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Fans around the sports world and even those who may not pay as much attention to sports are still paying attention to the situation surrounding Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin who collapsed during Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
For many people around the Evansville area it brought back memories from 2010 of
when USI basketball player Jeron Lewis collapsed and died on the court during a game against Kentucky Wesleyan.
“We was walking out to get in the vans to drive back to Evansville when we got the news,” Ray Simmons, USI director of athletic communications said. “Today it doesn’t seem real that it happened quite that way and plus this happened in the 2nd half of the game.”
Jalen Billups went through a similar situation in December of 2013 during basketball practice at Northern Kentucky University. What happened to Hamlin on the field at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati reminded Billups of his own situation.
“What happened last night, it was like a similar situation,” Billups stated. “When I seen what happened I was like yeah that’s his heart because it was the same for me, because my mom even called me and asked are you good and I’m like yeah it’s not about me in this situation,” he added.
Though Billups was able to rejoin his team after 10 months of recovery he says it was a long road to get back to his normal self on the court and eventually playing basketball professionally.
Dontaz Smith who has been an athletic trainer at different levels including University of Louisville football and professional hockey says injuries such as Hamlin’s also takes a toll on teammates.
“It’s truly family so any type of trauma or traumatic incident, there’s going to be an emotional affect to that,” Smith. “Can’t imagine how teammates feel. That’s there brother or they’re sister and you practice with them, you play with them day by day.”
Five years ago Rodney Watson spoke about what USI player Jeron Lewis meant to the university and the impact he left on others.
“Just reminds us that everyday is precious and certainly for athletes every opportunity to practice and play games, everyday is a wonderful opportunity,” Watson explained. “The university itself has been impacted by a young man who was huge with the student body.”