Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Bronny James, Son of LeBron James, Is Stable After Cardiac Arrest

Bronny, a basketball recruit at the University of Southern California, was stricken during a practice on Monday. He is out of intensive care and in stable condition, his family said.

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Bronny James during a game earlier this year, in a white No. 0 jersey with “Sierra” written on it.
Bronny James played high school basketball at Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles.Credit…Gregory Payan/Associated Press
Bronny James during a game earlier this year, in a white No. 0 jersey with “Sierra” written on it.
Tania Ganguli
Billy Witz
Gina Kolata

By Tania GanguliBilly Witz and Gina Kolata

July 25, 2023

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LeBron James Jr., the son of the N.B.A. star LeBron James, suffered a cardiac arrest while practicing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on Monday and was taken to the hospital for treatment in the intensive care unit, according to a statement from a spokesman for LeBron James and his wife, Savannah. The younger James, known as Bronny, is now in stable condition and no longer in the I.C.U., the statement said.

“LeBron and Savannah wish to publicly send their deepest thanks and appreciation to the U.S.C. medical and athletic staff for their incredible work and dedication to the safety of their athletes,” the statement said.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a call for medical aid at 9:26 a.m. in the 3400 block of Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, the address of the university’s Galen Center athletic facility, a department spokeswoman said on Tuesday. The department would not disclose who needed medical aid, citing federal policy.

Bronny James, 18, will be a freshman at U.S.C. this fall. He is the eldest of the Lakers star LeBron James’s three children. Bronny James was a four-star recruit and chose U.S.C. over Oregon and Ohio State.

The U.S.C. men’s basketball program was scheduled to take a 10-day exhibition trip to Greece and Croatia beginning Aug. 5, according to a statement it released in May. It was not clear whether the team would still make the trip or whether James would go.

Cardiac arrest, when the heart stops, is different from a heart attack, which happens when blood flow in an artery feeding the heart is blocked. More than 300,000 people a year experience cardiac arrest outside of hospitals.

The survival rate for those who suffer cardiac arrest and receive bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation is just 11.2 percent. For those who receive immediate defibrillation, survival rises to 41 percent. It was not known what treatment James received.

Brain damage is likely if a person in cardiac arrest goes four to six minutes without CPR, and brain death occurs after 10 minutes. Only 8 percent of cardiac arrest survivors emerge with a good neurological outcome. Most “have some degree of brain injury,” Monica Salesa spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, said in an interview in January.

U.S.C. has experience handling cardiac emergencies. During a workout at the Galen Center last summer, the incoming freshman Vincent Iwuchukwu suffered a cardiac arrest and was hospitalized. Iwuchukwu returned to play in 14 games for the Trojans last season.

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Keyontae Johnson, a budding star at Florida, went into cardiac arrest during a game in 2020. He eventually recovered and resumed his career at Kansas State, where he starred last season on a team that reached the round of 8 in the N.C.A.A. tournament. Johnson was selected by Oklahoma City in the second round of the N.B.A. draft in June.

Few cardiac events have played out more publicly than Damar Hamlin’s collapse from cardiac arrest during a nationally televised football game last season. Hamlin, who is now attempting to resume his career with the Buffalo Bills, posted a message of support for James on Twitter: “Prayers to Bronny & The James family as well. here for you guys just like you have been for me my entire process.”

Montrice Wright, the mother of Kijani Wright, a freshman forward with the Trojans, said that she had not spoken with her son since James’s collapse, but that she hoped that he and the other members of the team were coping in the wake of the second such incident in just over a year.

“The concern doesn’t go away when you witness something like that,” she said. “These kids put themselves through so much; they don’t rest enough, and it’s been hot.”

LeBron James, in a sweatshirt, posing with his son Bronny, wearing a basketball uniform and holding a trophy.
LeBron and Bronny James in 2019 after a win by Bronny’s high school team.Credit…Jay Laprete/Associated Press
LeBron James, in a sweatshirt, posing with his son Bronny, wearing a basketball uniform and holding a trophy.

Researchers at the University of Washington have conducted an exhaustive analysis of cardiac deaths in N.C.A.A. sports. Dr. Kimberly Harmon, the lead author who is affiliated with Washington’s Center for Sports Cardiology, said that Black male college basketball players have a higher risk of sudden cardiac death than other groups of players.

The annual risk of sudden cardiac death in Black Division I basketball players is one in 5,000. In white players, it is one in 16,000. Dr. Harmon said she and her colleagues had not found an explanation for the discrepancy.

“We see it again and again, not only in N.C.A.A. players, but also in high school athletes,” she said.

James is not the only son of an N.B.A. star who has experienced heart issues. Shareef O’Neal, one of Shaquille O’Neal’s sons and a friend of James, had open-heart surgery in 2018 when he was 18 after being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that affected the coronary artery.

Since then, O’Neal has documented his recovery on social media as he has worked to return to playing basketball. O’Neal had to learn how to walk again, and he spent several months in rehabilitation, according to the American Heart Association.

In an interview on the “Now For Later” podcast this week, O’Neal said that “in 20 years, I just want to be known as that kid who fought back from something that was life-changing and made his dreams come true.

“I honestly thought I wasn’t going to play basketball ever again,” O’Neal said.

Basketball is often an afterthought on the U.S.C. campus, where football reigns supreme. But that was expected to change this season, in part because of the presence of the younger James, who has 7.5 million followers on Instagram, and who would be playing home games within walking distance of the arena where his father stars for the Lakers.

Crowds were expected to follow James, just as they had since the summer before he entered high school, when fans were turned away at the door of a gym at a premier high school recruiting showcase to watch him play against others in his age group.

As he grew and his game developed, James came to be viewed by college coaches as a complementary player with a high basketball I.Q. — a guard who was viewed as a contributor but not a star on a team with Final Four ambitions.

His recruitment, though, largely played out as “don’t call us, we’ll call you” — and he eventually took visits, though not to basketball powers like Duke and Kentucky. Instead, he toured schools where he might play more readily: Oregon, whose benefactor is Phil Knight, a founder of Nike, the shoe company that has a strong relationship with the elder James; Ohio State, the school LeBron said he would have attended if he had been required to go to college before going to the N.B.A.; and his close-to-home school, U.S.C.

The Trojans will also have D.J. Rodman, a transfer from Washington State, whose basketball-playing father, Dennis, was a pop culture sensation in the 1990s. But it is more than a team of scions of basketball stars.

U.S.C. should be quite good after adding one of the top freshmen in the country, Isaiah Collier, a point guard from Marietta, Ga. He will team with Boogie Ellis, the Pac-12’s second-leading returning scorer; center Joshua Morgan, who led the conference in blocks last season; and forward Kobe Johnson, who is the conference’s leading returner in steals.

Iwuchukwu, a 7-foot-1 center, is also considered an N.B.A. prospect.

After this season, Bronny James would be eligible for the N.B.A. draft. LeBron James has often said he would like to play on an N.B.A. team with his son, and he has even hinted that he wants to play with his younger son, Bryce, 16, who attends Campbell Hall School in Los Angeles. LeBron and Savannah James’s daughter, Zhuri, is 8.

LeBron James, 38, led the Lakers to the Western Conference finals last season, which was his 20th in the N.B.A. In February he became the N.B.A.’s all-time leading scorer, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had held the title for nearly 39 years.

Livia Albeck-Ripka, Adam Zagoria and Jesus Jiménez contributed reporting.

Tania Ganguli has covered the N.B.A. for The Times since 2021. Previously she covered the Lakers for The Los Angeles Times and a variety of sports for other newspapers around the country. More about Tania Ganguli

Gina Kolata writes about science and medicine. She has twice been a Pulitzer Prize finalist and is the author of six books, including “Mercies in Disguise: A Story of Hope, a Family’s Genetic Destiny, and The Science That Saved Them.” More about Gina Kolata

A version of this article appears in print on July 26, 2023, Section B, Page 10 of the New York edition with the headline: Bronny James, the Superstar’s 18-Year-Old Son, Is Stable After Cardiac Arrest. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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