If you haven’t heard what happened to Keyontae Johnson, keep the University of Florida basketball star in your thoughts: He’s currently in critical condition after collapsing during a game on Saturday, Dec. 12.
“Please keep praying for @Keyontae and his family. We all love him,” Florida coach Mike White tweeted shortly after the game. Here’s what we know about the scary incident…
Keyontae collapsed after a huddle with his teammates.
According to ESPN, Keyontae — a forward for the team and a leading candidate for SEC Player of the Year — collapsed early in the University of Florida Gators’ game against the rival Florida State Seminoles on Saturday. He had just completed an alley-oop on a pass from Tyree Applebee, and he huddled with his teammates on the sidelines during a timeout.
As the team came out of the huddle, Keyontae fell to the court. His teammates yelled for help, and Keyontae received emergency medical attention before being taken to the locker room on a stretcher, and then to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital in Tallahassee, Fla., where he was listed in critical but stable condition that evening.
After Keyontae’s collapse, the Gators players gathered to pray for the Virginia native on the sidelines of FSU’s Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, with some players in tears.
The game soon resumed, with Florida State winning the game 83–71. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton later told reporters that the Gators opted to resume gameplay. The coach also said that some of his own players were crying after Keyontae’s collapse.
“Those types of things can affect you in some adverse ways,” Leonard added. “We're just all hopeful and praying that he's OK. If it affected our players in an emotional way, I can imagine what the situation was with his teammates."
"He continued, "What I told our guys, we just need to pray for him and hope everything works out all right. And immediately, I had several players get on their knees and start praying while we were in the huddle. I thought that was a very thoughtful thing that our players were in the huddle praying that the opponent was recovering in a good way.”
For his part, Mike canceled postgame interviews and traveled to the hospital to stay overnight with Keyontae, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.
Keyontae Johnson had tested positive for COVID-19.
ESPN notes that the reason the athlete collapsed is not yet known — but he, along with many of his Gators teammates, tested positive for COVID-19 over the summer, and one possible result of the virus is myocarditis, an infection of the heart muscle.
In a column for the Florida Times-Union, writer Gene Frenette said the game was “meaningless” after Keyontae’s emergency. “Once the visual of 21-year-old Keyontae Johnson collapsing on the court, then being wheeled away in a stretcher to a Tallahassee hospital happened, an in-state rivalry suddenly became a lot less relevant,” Gene wrote.
“Johnson, a 4-star recruit out of Oak Hill Academy (Va.), was enjoying the start of what many believe might be his last collegiate season before heading to the NBA. That age is among the best time in many people’s lives. Then in not much more than the blink of an eye, Johnson found himself clinging to life for unknown reasons.”
Fans are still waiting for updates on Keyontae Johnson.
On Twitter, rattled basketball players and fans anxiously awaited updates on Keyontae’s condition. “Went to sleep and woke up with Keyontae Johnson on my mind. Any updates?” tweeted former WNBA star and Olympian Tammy Sutton-Brown.
“I am deeply concerned for Keyontae Johnson,” wrote ESPN radio host Marc Ryan, who also changed his Twitter profile image to a photo of Keyontae. “I’m concerned I haven’t heard anything. I’m concerned that I’ve reached out to my UF people and they haven’t heard anything. I’m concerned that Johnson had Covid-19 recently and that myocarditis can come from that, but I know nothing.”
Let’s hope no news, in this case, is good news — and that Keyontae makes a full recovery. Our thoughts are with him and his family.