Florida star basketball player Keyontae Johnson conducted his first interview after suffering a terrifying collapse on the court in a December 12 road game against Florida State.
Before an interview Tuesday with Chris Harry from FloridaGators.com, all the updates on his health and condition came through his family, through the official Twitter account of the basketball team (although he sent a video on December 18 thanking the fans for their support and prayers).
After his collapse, health officials immediately took Johnson to Memorial Hospital in Tallahassee, Florida; There, he was placed in a medically induced coma until he was transferred to UF Health in Gainesville two days later. There, he was able to breathe on his own despite remaining in critical but stable condition.
MORE: Johnson Returns to Florida Basketball as Temporary Coach
Johnson was diagnosed Dec. 22 with acute myocarditis or an inflammation of the heart muscle. He returned to the team on December 29; Although his season ended, his last play was an alley-oop dunk against the Seminoles, doctors have not ruled out that he will return to play in the future. Cardiologists concluded on February 3 that myocarditis was not related to a previous COVID-19 diagnosis.
Until he returns to physical activities in basketball, “hopefully this summer,” he will remain a part-time coach for the Gators team. They have not played since February 3 and have missed three consecutive games due to COVID-19 issues.
Johnson, speaking to FloridaGators.com, reflected on the terrifying collapse. As he recounted the episode, he mentioned how a cardiologist who was sitting on the sidelines ran to the floor to help him.
“I’d say I’m lucky to be here, yeah. There’s not much more to say (about) that,” Johnson said. FloridaGators.com. “I passed out. I could have died. She jumped onto the court and saved me. If it wasn’t for her, I may not have had a second chance at life. You just can’t take life for granted.” “
Johnson said he remembers the day before the incident and has seen the highlights of the game, but doesn’t think much about that day (he watched video of his collapse while still in the hospital).
MORE: Johnson Sends Video Message Thanking Fans: ‘God Said My Work Here Isn’t Done’
That said, he recounted that he woke up for the first time after collapsing.
“When I woke up, I thought I was dreaming when I saw my mother in front of me. I remember (the doctor) called me by my name. He asked me questions to see if I would respond,” Johnson said. “She was still very sleepy, but she could open her eyes. My mom was standing next to her.
“The (doctor) said, ‘Who is that speaking?’ He had a tube in his mouth, but he could say, ‘My mom.’ Then I saw my mom smiling and crying at the same time. Tears of joy. Smiling and crying. Then I think I went back to sleep. “
Naturally, Johnson said he was scared and confused after learning what had happened to him. He now goes to the doctor every two weeks and said he will undergo MRI tests, EKGs, stress tests and more to determine if he can play again.
Only time will tell if Johnson, the preseason SEC Player of the Year, can return to the court in a capacity beyond being a coach. Until then, he said, he will keep a positive outlook.
“I’m not just going to sit around thinking about the worst,” Johnson said. “I’m going to think about the positives, like being able to come back and play very soon, and how my medical appointments have gone really well. I just want to keep that mindset and keep things moving forward.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.