College basketball star who collapsed during a game and was put into a coma has heart condition associated with COVID-19
Sport can now put Keyontae Johnson at serious risk of sudden death and put the alleged NBA lottery player's athletic career at risk. AP Photo / Matt Stamey
Florida basketball star Keyontae Johnson collapsed unprovoked on the hardwood during the Gators matchup against the Florida State Seminoles earlier this month.
The 21-year-old was put into a medically-related coma after the scary incident, his grandfather told USA Today but has since left the hospital.
Johnson was diagnosed with myocarditis, a condition that causes inflammation of the heart muscle and can be fatal if left untreated, such as heart damage or cardiac arrest.
His future in college basketball and the NBA is in doubt.
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Keyontae Johnson - the Florida Gators star who collapsed during a game and fell into a medically-induced coma - was diagnosed with heart disease related to COVID-19.
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The 21-year-old reportedly has acute myocarditis, a condition that causes the heart muscle to become inflamed. If left untreated, the condition can have fatal consequences, such as heart damage or cardiac arrest. Vigorous exercise can put people with myocarditis at risk of sudden death and put Johnson's future basketball career at risk.
According to The Gainesville Sun's Zach Abolverdi, Johnson's acute myocarditis "cannot definitely be linked to his diagnosis of COVID". Should medical experts pinpoint the cause between his confirmed case of coronavirus this summer and his newly discovered heart disease, the ramifications could have far-reaching implications for the entire sports world.
Keyontae Johnson. AP Photo / Michael Conroy
Johnson, the Gators' leading goalscorer for the 2019-2020 season and SEC preseason player of the year, should be one of the brightest stars in college basketball this year. With a solid punch, advanced instincts, and excellent ball handling, the 6-foot-5 striker should be a top pick in the 2021 NBA draft.
But that changed on December 12th.
During the first half of a rivalry game against the Florida State Seminoles, Johnson collapsed seemingly unprovoked after a break. Florida's top scorer fell face down on the hardwood with a loud bang, urging his teammates to desperately call for help.
Johnson spent three days in a medically induced coma as doctors tried to determine the cause of his sudden loss of consciousness. Eventually, the Florida program announced that Johnson was "breathing and talking on his own," noting that he's even FaceTimed with his Gators teammates.
However, there are serious questions about his future in competitive sport. Exercise increases the risk of serious myocarditis, and the pace of NCAA and NBA game is certainly not suitable for those struggling with a heart problem.
Keyontae Johnson. DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
According to the Myocarditis Foundation, experts generally recommend a three to six month recovery period before people diagnosed with myocarditis return to physical activity. And even then, restarting your workout safely will first require tests that show no signs of residual heart damage.
Should Johnson tick all of those boxes and officially get the OK to return to the field, there's still a good chance NBA teams won't be willing to risk one of their precious tips for a player who may never return at their best. He's already ruled out for the remainder of his Florida junior season, and his athletic career beyond this year is now pending.
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