The athletic trainer who performed life-saving CPR on Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the field during a game doesn't want to be known as a hero. Denny Kellington spoke at the commencement for Oklahoma State — his alma mater — on Saturday, where he instead explained his actions were not the result of heroism, but preparation.
"I've said repeatedly that I am not a hero," Kellington told graduates. "But I will tell you what I was that day: I was ready. For 27 years, I've showed up to work as an athletic trainer in some capacity.
"... I was ready because I dedicated my life to this work."
While Kellington hasn't spoken much publicly since he helped resuscitate Hamlin on Jan. 2, Hamlin has called the trainer "the savior" of his life. Doctors officially cleared Hamlin to return to football on April 18, around three months after he was released from the hospital.
"I owe Denny my life. Literally," Hamlin told "Good Morning America" on Feb. 10. "He loves to say he was just doing his job. But ... that night, he was literally the savior of my life, you know, administering CPR on me.
"If it wasn't for someone showing up that day with a clear mind and whatever's going on in their personal life, just to put it aside and just to be present in the moment to actually be able to do their job correctly — that's something I'm truly thankful for and I don't take for granted."
Kellington later received the touchdown ball from Bills receiver John Brown during Buffalo's Week 18 game against the New England Patriots as well and even earned one vote for NFL MVP from ESPN's Suzy Kolber.