MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – “I just woke up in the hospital and that’s all I can recall,” said Jamir Hamilton, regarding the aftermath of a serious car crash in June 2021 that took the life of his best friend.

Hamilton left the crash with a severe tear in his aorta, which doctors said was literally hanging on by a thread.

“I remember the nurses were standing on the other side of the bed and they were looking at me and then they kind of dropped their heads,” remembered Hamilton’s mom, Sana Cotten. “It was in that moment that I realized they didn’t think he was going to make it through the night.”

In the middle of a News 8 interview, Hamilton became overcome by emotion. He said it was grief and, also, gratitude. EMTs, along with doctors at Hartford Hospital, worked incredibly fast to save his life.

“This is a tremendous example of team effort and having the right tools at the right time,” said Dr. Ted Gifford, a vascular surgeon at Hartford Hospital.

He said new, minimally invasive stents, as well as a state of the art emergency room, allowed doctors to save the 20 year old’s life. Hamilton was also treated by a trauma surgeon and an orthopedic surgeon.

“Jamir’s case is such a good example of what a well running trauma team can do to get a patient back on his feet,” said Gifford.

“I appreciate them a lot, like a lot a lot, they basically put my whole body back together,” said Hamilton.

In fact, doctors have cleared the high school receiver to try out for semi-pro football teams in the next few months.

“I just love it, I love being on the field, love the contact, the physicalness,” Hamilton explained.

“I thank God they showed up everyday and they used their gifts and they weren’t scared,” said Cotten about her son’s doctors.

As the young man deals with emotional and physical scars, he has a new lease on life. Hamilton and his mom are people of faith. They say, “thank you,” every day.

“I kind of never take life for granted because you never know when it could be your last day,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton and his family started a non-profit to help young athletes in need, in honor of his friend who died in the accident.

Click here to learn about the Amil C. Phillip Youth Sports Fund.