LUBBOCK, Texas – The sports world is still in shock after seeing Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapse on the field after a hit in Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 24-year-old was given CPR and had his heartbeat restored before being transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He’s been sedated and stabilized in the hospital’s intensive care unit since Monday evening, the Bills said, and still remains in critical condition.

Someone who’s recently been in Hamlin’s shoes is Monterey High School freshman Zaidyn Ward.

“When I saw that on TV, that sort of reminded me of Aug. 31, when it happened with Zaidyn,” said Cassandra Combs, Ward’s mother. It was like a flashback.”

It was that August day that Ward collapsed following a freshman high school football game against Abilene Wylie and his heart stopped. Flash forward to Monday, the 14-year-old couldn’t believe he’d see something so similar happen to someone at the highest level.

“It really made me rethink football,” Ward said. “That’s a scary thing to see. I was watching the game live, and when I saw him get hit like that, I already knew he was gonna fall.”

Luckily, for Hamlin and Ward, the medical staff was ready and able to help.

“They did CPR on him, and it did nothing,” said Judy Combs, Ward’s grandmother. “His heart had already stopped, so they hit him twice with the defibrillator. The first time they hit him, his heart stopped again, so they had to hit him a second time. Had they not done that, he was dead.”

Ward was diagnosed with left main coronary artery stenosis. Over the last several months, Ward and his family have made numerous trips to Fort Worth for life-saving procedures including an angiogram and open-heart surgery. 

It’s still unclear what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. On Tuesday afternoon, the Bills said on Twitter, “Damar Hamlin spent last night in the intensive care unit and remains there today in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.”

“Seeing what happened to him and how everybody was checking on him, they canceled the game, some of his teammates went out to the hospital with him,” Ward said. “It shows that football brings family, discipline and character. It’s not just a sport.” 

Ward is still on the long road to recovery but said he has a lot more energy now than he did before. 

Last month, Ward exchanged his cardiac vest for a less-visible implantable defibrillator on his left side called a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD). According to the Cleveland Clinic, the device can help prevent sudden cardiac death in people with abnormally fast heart rhythms. 

Ward said he’s excited to return to school on Monday, Jan. 9 where he will wear a mask at all times to protect himself from any sicknesses going around.

In light of Hamlin’s injury, Ward said:

“Don’t take life for granted, because any day you can leave.”

If you would like to help out with Zaidyn’s medical expenses, you can donate to his GoFundMe page.