After a monstrous dunk in a game last year University of Florida phenom Keyontae Johnson suddenly collapsed near midcourt, the story and video rocking the sports world. He says he nearly lost his life.
This month, Johnson officially logged his first in-game minutes since that day. On Senior Day, the star senior forward caught the tipoff, dribbled a few times, then handed the ball off to the official before bending down to kiss the Gator logo at midcourt.
Through it all, Johnson’s faith has not wavered. Not long after the incident, he took to Twitter with a video thanking everyone for their prayers, adding, “‘Write your own story’ God said my work here ain’t done.”
“Write your own story” God said my work here ain’t done 💙🤞🏽 pic.twitter.com/hJHlBIJmdg
— Keyontae (@Keyontae) December 18, 2020
Though it’s not the Senior Day Johnson envisioned, the moment was much bigger than basketball. Fans, teammates, opposing players and coaches greeted him with a standing ovation and hugs as they acknowledged the fact that Johnson almost didn’t live to see this day.
When Johnson collapsed, a cardiologist happened to be sitting courtside. “I was passed out. I could have died. She jumped out on the court and saved me. If it isn’t for her, I may not have had a second chance in life. You just can’t take life for granted,” Johnson said.
Johnson has not practiced or played in a game since, other than the ceremonial entrance as one of seven seniors honored on Senior Day, where he was cheered on by his parents, grandparents, daughter and the Tallahassee doctor who saved his life.
“This is a day you’ll never forget,” Johnson said, adding, “I wanted to stay out there a little bit longer, but had to get off.”
Johnson hopes his future includes a return to playing basketball again. As a former preseason player of the year in the SEC and projected lottery pick for the 2021 NBA Draft before the incident, he hasn’t shelved his NBA dreams just yet. After this season, Johnson plans to officially turn pro and get medical clearance to work out for NBA teams.
As for the present, Keyontae Johnson has taken to a new name, “Coach Key,” helping lead his fellow Gators from the bench this season.
“I can’t dwell on the situation. It happened. Me having a negative mindset can only mess me up in the future. So I’m trying to have a positive mindset and make sure everybody sees me happy. I’m a big leader on this team.” Johnson said to University of Florida writer Chris Harry last year. “I’m just trying to bring great energy, show everybody I’m smiling, that I’m fine, and just want the best out of these guys.”