BY Jack Davis, The Western JournalJanuary 12, 2023
1 year ago

College Basketball Player Who Collapsed During Game Speaks Out: 'This Doesn't Happen, Especially for Someone Like Me'

A Virginia college basketball player who collapsed during a game on Saturday says he still cannot believe that he was playing one minute and the next he was flat out on the floor.

"This doesn't happen, especially for someone like me. I've been playing basketball all my life,” guard Imo Essien of Old Dominion University said Tuesday, according to WTKR-TV in Norfolk.

“Me? Nineteen years old and healthy?” Essien said, according to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. “Living how I’m living? I compete every day. … So why me?”

The sophomore went down suddenly during a game between Old Dominion and Georgia Southern, according to the New York Post. He tried once to get up but then fell down again. After trainers came out to assist him, Essien walked off the court. He never blacked out.

He also managed to return to watch the game from the bench in the second half.

Essien said he had trouble breathing.

"It was very hard to breathe. I felt like I couldn't catch my wind and at the end there, right before I went down, it just felt like all my wind was gone,” he said.

Essien's coach, Jeff Jacobs, said the collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on "Monday Night Football" on Jan. 2 made the situation all the more frightening.

"It was scary as hell. Particularly in light of the Hamlin situation happening so recently, I think the worst kind of flashed through everybody's minds,” Jacobs told The Virginian-Pilot.

"Obviously we had Imo in our minds, trying to coach a game and trying to comfort the players all at one time," Jones said. "That was something that I hope I never have to deal with again."


There is still no definitive ruling on what caused Essien to collapse. He visited with a cardiologist on Monday.

Although Essien participated in practice Tuesday, games are still off-limits.

"I'm waiting until the cardiologist, the pulmonologist and whoever the heck else it is ... if they all give the thumbs up then that's great. If they want to wait, then we wait,” Jones told WTKR.

Essien admitted to being antsy to play again with his teammates.


"I'm jealous of these guys. These guys get to go out there and play ball. They get to play and compete against somebody else and I wish I could be doing that, but at the same time I understand what just happened. I understand the seriousness of a situation,” he told the station.

"I feel like I'm just like these guys, so why me?" he said.

"You get those type of questions, but at the end of the day I trust God and my family and my teammates and I know that this will all pass and I'll be back on that court,” he said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Jack Davis, The Western Journal



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