BILLINGS — It’s been a tough year for Kevin Hoffman.
Hoffman lost his son Jed in November 2021, after Jed collapsed during high school football practice in Park City of a sudden cardiac arrest and never recovered. It was a surprise no one could have ever predicted.
"We live under the illusion that we can protect ourselves from calamity," Hoffman said. "It doesn’t always happen that way."
Hoffman doesn’t watch much football anymore, so he didn't see Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapse during this week's Monday Night Football game. But a friend texted Hoffman about the incident, and that’s all it took for memories to come rushing back.
"It was eerily similar," he said.
Jed had originally collapsed in warmups on Oct. 21 but woke up quickly. He was cleared by a doctor the day before his second collapse on Oct. 26, which put him into a coma that he never came out of. While not the exact same situation, Hoffman knows all too well how difficult this time is for Hamlin’s family, but there is a silver lining.
"The outpouring of the community of Park City and (Jed's) friends has been humbling," Hoffman said. "It's been special to us."
Kevin said many of Hoffman’s teammates still come to the house — some even made a mother’s day gift for his wife, Jed’s mom, last May. Hamlin is seeing the same love. His community toy drive foundation received $5 million in donations in less than 24 hours after the accident, some from the Treasure State.
Hoffman said the outpouring of support proved at least one thing.
"It was a blessing to us because it spoke well to who (Jed) was," he said.
Hoffman may not watch much football anymore, but he doesn’t blame football for his son’s loss or Hamlin’s injury. He said that's no way to live.
"It can happen and I don’t know how you’re going to protect yourself," Hoffman said. "So do you then start exempting yourself from all areas of life because of what might happen? I don’t know that that’s the answer. I don't think life can be managed that well."