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Damar Hamlin woke up on Thursday and has been holding hands with family, an agent for the Buffalo Bills safety told CNN.

News of Hamlin’s slow recovery in a Cincinnati hospital elicited cheers and feelings of joy across the nation.

The 24-year-old player is still critically ill but has “shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours,” the Bills said in a statement on Thursday.

Players from the Tennessee Titans to the New England Patriots expressed gratitude for the good news on social media.

The Patriots are expected to play the Bills on Sunday, and New England coach also expressed his support for Damar Hamlin.

“The news from a little earlier this morning about Damar’s progress is great news and encouraging for all of us,” Belichick said.

The Buffalo Bills will hold their first news conference since the Monday night incident. They plan to speak with reporters at 4:30 ET, according to CNN.

Damar Hamlin returns to the living

Shortly after standing up from tackling Bengals’ Tee Higgins on Monday, Hamlin collapsed onto the field where he lay motionless.

Trainers immediately worked on Hamlin as play stopped with about six minutes remaining in the opening period.

The moment took a turn when, according to the ESPN game broadcast, CPR was administered on Hamlin. Many of his teammates and the players of the opposing side gathered and hoped for the best for the fallen competitor. Some Bills players could be seen crying as Hamlin was cared for, other players held hands praying or hugged each other.

He was then driven off the field in an ambulance and placed on oxygen support. Thursday’s announcement marks the first time he began to breathe on his own.

“We had significant concern about him after the injury and after the event that happened on the field, but he’s making substantial progress.” Dr. Timothy Pritts, division chief of general surgery at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, said on Thursday.

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...

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