The Buffalo Bills player says it's his "turn to return the favor" for his grandmother Portia in an exclusive clip of 'Secret Celebrity Renovation'
NFL star Damar Hamlin watched his grandmother Portia "work hard" and support others for his entire life.
Now, the 25-year-old Buffalo Bills player says, "It's my turn to return the favor" as he renovates his grandmother's Pittsburgh home on Friday's episode of Secret Celebrity Renovation.
In a PEOPLE exclusive clip from the episode, above, Hamlin returns to his Pennsylvania hometown, where he uncovers family photos and sentimental tokens from his childhood alongside the show's interior designer, Sabrina Soto.
The team starts their renovation by cleaning out Portia's closet, which was full of memorabilia from Hamlin's early days in football.
Among the items is his Pittsburgh Panthers jersey and a poster signed by his teammates. Hamlin played for the University of Pittsburgh from 2016 until 2020.
"I remember this cardigan like it was yesterday," Hamlin says when Soto finds a school portrait of the young athlete dressed in an argyle green sweater.
Another photo shows a very young Hamlin smiling. "This was the first picture day when I started smiling," he shares, adding that he used to hide his teeth in photos. "I don’t know why, I was insecure as a youngin," he says.
When he finds a photograph from his parent's wedding ceremony, Hamlin shares that "being at my mom and dad's wedding" was one of his "favorite memories."
A later discovery reminds the NFL star that his father, Mario Hamlin, was his team's coach when he won his first Little League Championship.
Mario, 42, played college football alongside his brother. On Friday's episode of the CBS series, the Bills safety points out both his father and his uncle in their team's group photo from the time.
“Football is in my genes," Hamlin says as he reflects on the image. "Football is in my pockets.”
Now its third season, Secret Celebrity Renovation gives stars the opportunity to surprise someone who played an important role in their road to success with a home makeover. In addition to Hamlin, this season includes The Amazing Race’s Phil Keoghan, actor and comedian JB Smoove, and Fire Country star Max Thieriot.
Hamlin made headlines in January 2023, when he collapsed during a game between the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals after he made a tackle and needed CPR. The emergency, doctors say was caused by commotio cordis.
Hamlin eventually recovered after being in critical condition, leaving the hospital nine days later and showing his support for his teammates on the sidelines during the NFL playoffs.
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Hamlin made headlines on January 2, 2023, when he collapsed during a game between the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals after he made a tackle and needed CPR. He subsequently recovered after being in critical condition and left the hospital nine days later.
In April, the Bills announced that Hamlin was cleared to play football again. "Physically, I'm getting stronger," he said in the AHA interview.
"God seen that my purpose is bigger than just football. Way bigger than just football," he also said. "I always knew that. I've always felt like I was more than just an athlete and a football player and he gave me a purpose and something to stand for that's way bigger than just a game."
On Aug. 12, the Pennsylvania native returned to the field in the Bills' 23-19 preseason victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
After the win, Hamlin told NFL.com, "It was super fun," and a "great experience" returning to play, adding that he sees his first preseason game since returning as "just another milestone and a step up to just getting back to myself as far as the football space."
Watch Hamlin's episode of Secret Celebrity Renovation on CBS on Friday, Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. ET and streaming on Paramount+.
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