Report: UF basketball player who collapsed has season-ending heart issue

UF thanks FSU for stepping up ‘in moment of crisis’ to help forward Keyontae Johnson

Florida forward Keyontae Johnson (11), shown during an exhibition game against Lynn, starred in a game Thursday against Saint Joseph's. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey) (2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A day after the sports world cheered the news that Florida forward Keyontae Johnson was being released from the hospital in time for the holidays, the Gainesville Sun reported that the basketball player would not be returning this season.

A source told the Sun that Johnson was diagnosed with acute myocarditis, or heart inflammation, after an MRI at UF Health in Gainesville.

Johnson’s family had said it will share “any information we think could help others” regarding the cause and extent of Johnson’s illness, which began when he collapsed on FSU’s court Dec. 12 and needed emergency medical attention.

UF released a statement from Johnson’s family Tuesday saying, “We continue to be amazed at the pace of his recovery and look forward to spending Christmas together as a family.”

“As much as everyone involved wants firm answers, the process to draw definitive conclusions continues, and we ask for patience as the medical professionals continue their work,” the family said.

Kentucky’s John Calipari is one of many coaches in college basketball who have said they would like to know if Johnson’s collapse was related to his positive COVID-19 test months earlier.

Like many of his Florida teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the summer. Although the cause of Johnson’s collapse has not been revealed, the coronavirus can lead to myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle. At its most severe, myocarditis can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and has been a documented cause of death for young, otherwise healthy athletes.

The SEC mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID-19 tests.

UF thanks FSU

In a post on social media that was also taken out as a full-page ad in The Tallahassee Democrat, the UF basketball team offered a heartfelt message of gratitude to rival Florida State for stepping up “in a moment of crisis” and helping care for Johnson.

“We have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for everyone from Florida State and the Tallahassee community for their quick and careful action,” the team posted. “Our schools compete in so many ways, but the rivalry between our institutions is not a rivalry between our people.”

The post and ad listed many by name who moved quickly to save Johnson’s life when he crumpled to the floor coming out of a timeout on Dec. 12. He was moved to a stretcher and carried to a waiting ambulance as teammates, coaches, staff, fans and others watched in disbelief.

ESPN declined to show video of the incident. Witnesses said Johnson was standing near midcourt and suddenly fell forward and landed on his face.

He spent two nights at Tallahassee Memorial before being transferred to Gainesville via helicopter with his mother by his side.

Florida has postponed four basketball games since Johnson’s collapse. The team is next scheduled to next play on Dec. 30 at Vanderbilt in the SEC opener for both schools.

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