‘It becomes personal for me’: Jeff Ruby caters free dinner for Damar Hamlin’s family

The Cincinnati restaurateur delivered the meal Wednesday night.
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 7:23 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - The growing list of Damar Hamlin supporters now includes one iconic Cincinnati-based restaurateur.

Local steakhouse owner Jeff Ruby catered a special dinner for the Hamlin Family at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.

The menu included 16-ounce rib-eye steaks, fresh salmon, a raw bar with Alaskan king crab legs and giant tiger shrimp, baked macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, sourdough bread and an assortment of pastries, including the restaurant’s signature butter pie. The new Jeff Ruby Steakhouse location near Fountain Square provided the meal.

[Damar Hamlin shows signs of improvement as he remains in ICU, Bills say]

Ruby said the idea for the free dinner came from a follower on Twitter who urged him and other local restaurant owners to provide food to the family in their time of need. With the help of Hamlin’s manager, Jordon Rooney, and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd, Ruby was able to make it happen.

Ruby told The Enquirer that he wanted to give back to Hamlin’s family because he could relate to what they were going through. In July 1987, Ruby suffered a severe brain injury that landed him in the UC Medical Center, the same facility where Hamlin remains in critical condition. The steakhouse owner was given a 5% chance of survival and last rites were administered.

“I believe the Lord saved me to make other people’s lives better,” Ruby said.

Ruby also felt connected to the tragic collapse and cardiac arrest of the Buffalo Bills safety because his son-in-law and former Bengals linebacker Caleb Miller also suffered from a career-ending spinal injury in 2007.

“It becomes personal for me and I get a little emotionally involved,” he said.

Ruby said he would like to stop by the hospital and extend his deepest sympathies to the Hamlin family, adding that he would be willing to provide them with free dinner every night they’re in Cincinnati.

“We can do this every night. We have more than one thing on the menu. We can take care of them every night they’re here,” Ruby said.

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