Florida basketball star Keyontae Johnson ‘following simple commands’ after horrific collapse
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - University of Florida basketball star Keyontae Johnson is reportedly out of a medically induced coma and is "following simple commands" following his terrifying collapse on the court during a game against rival Florida State over the weekend, sources said on Tuesday.
Officials added that Johnson is undergoing further tests and remains in critical but stable condition.
The Atlantic reported Johnson is “breathing on his own and speaking with parents and doctors.”
What started as a thrilling game quickly turned into a horrific scene on Saturday. Johnson was celebrating with his teammates after completing an alley-oop when he fell face-first during the team huddle, according to reports.
ESPN declined to show any footage of the incident.
He was moved to a stretcher and carried to a waiting ambulance as teammates, coaches, staff, fans and others watched in disbelief.
Johnson was moved from Tallahassee to Gainesville via helicopter with his mother by his side.
Coach Mike White and head athletic trainer Dave Werner, who stayed in Tallahassee for two nights, returned to Gainesville on the school’s jet with other family members Monday.
USA Today quoted Johnson’s grandfather, Larry DeJarnett, as saying the player had been in a medically induced coma.
The Gators announced Johnson was in critical but stable condition less than an hour after his ordeal. The American Hospital Association defines patients in critical but stable condition as having "vital signs that are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable."
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Florida sent a jet to Norfolk, Virginia, to get Johnson’s parents Saturday and take them to Tallahassee to be with their son.
Johnson’s teammates and coaches were visibly distraught before the game resumed. The Seminoles outscored Florida 80-60 after Johnson’s collapse and won 83-71 for their seventh straight victory in the series.
The Gators had been scheduled to host North Florida on Wednesday night, but the game was called off Monday evening. It’s unclear if it will be made up.
The school held a moment of silence for Johnson before its football game against LSU on Saturday night and again before a women’s basketball game Monday. Johnson’s girlfriend, forward Jordyn Merritt, played in that game and finished with six points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5 junior, averaged a team-high 14 points last season to go along with 7.1 rebounds. He also led the Gators with 38 steals.
Like many of his Florida teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the summer. Although the cause of Johnson’s collapse was not immediately known, the coronavirus can lead to myocarditis, a viral infection 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.
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The Southeastern Conference mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID-19 tests.
FOX 11's Kelli Johnson contributed to this report.