The glory was short-lived, but the pain has accompanied police officer Wilson Sin Ka-keung every day of his life for the past eight years, like "a friend".
One bullet went through his head and impaired his eyesight, but it was the second bullet, puncturing his left leg, that caused the long-lasting pain for Sin, the sole survivor of a Tsim Sha Tsui shoot-out with "devil cop" Tsui Po-ko in 2006.
"Pain is only a sensation. I've learned to live with it as a friend," he said yesterday at the launch of his book - a 221-page Chinese-language account of his escape from the jaws of death.
Sin shot to fame after he survived, albeit with serious injuries, a March 17, 2006, gun attack by the off-duty Tsui, 35, in a Canton Road/Austin Road underpass. Fellow constable Tsang Kwok-hang, 34, killed Tsui before succumbing to his own injuries. Tsui's motive for the attack remains a mystery.
Sin, then 28, emerged as the only surviving witness, enduring a 71-day hospital stay.
A bullet had pierced his nose on the right and exited through his right ear, injuring the ear canal. It left shadows at the bottom of his right eyeball, and some of his teeth fell out.
Another bullet left a hole in his left leg that had to be sterilised. "It's a lot of pain cleaning the wounds. I've gone through that so many times," he said.
The Medal for Bravery (Gold) he was awarded by the government was scant comfort. Moments of despair gripped him, in the stillness of the night when he would take solace in a tipple.
"I said to my leg, 'Can you stop hurting for a minute?' It ignored me. I shortened the request to 30 seconds, but still the pain continued," he recalled.
"I made the final request for it to stop hurting for a second. When nothing happened, I broke down and cried."
At other times, he appreciates the little things in life. Of the initial days in hospital when he wavered on the brink of death, "I remember the first time I drank using my chapped lips. The water was like sweet dew. It is a blessing to be able to eat, no matter how little food there is," he said.
"My parents came to mind. They could have received a large sum of compensation if I had died... But they would always choose to see me again ... That's why I chose to live."
Sin, nicknamed Garfield by fellow constables, no longer patrols the streets. Now a sergeant working out of an office in West Kowloon, he has taken to encouraging those similarly in pain, by sharing his experience in schools and becoming a volunteer.
"Youngsters should not give up their lives easily. They should treasure what they have, even the chance to breathe and to drink."
Sin's rogue colleague Tsui earned the nickname "devil cop" after his death, when it was revealed he had killed another colleague and a bank guard in 2001.
Tsui first gunned down constable Leung Shing-yan and months later killed Hang Seng Bank security guard Zafar Iqbal Khan during a robbery in Tsuen Wan. He later used Leung's gun in the Tsim Sha Tsui bloodbath.
Ballistic evidence showed Tsui fired one bullet to kill Tsang, and himself died after Tsang pumped five bullets into his torso. It revealed Sin fired two shots in the struggle with Tsui. A sensational 37-day inquest concluded in April 2007 that Tsang killed Tsui lawfully.