Bronny James, the older son of NBA star LeBron James, suffered a cardiac arrest during basketball practice at the University of Southern California and was hospitalized Monday, according to a statement from a family spokesperson.
He is out of the intensive care unit and in stable condition, the statement said.
“Yesterday while practicing Bronny James suffered a cardiac arrest. Medical staff was able to treat Bronny and take him to the hospital. He is now in stable condition and no longer in ICU,” the statement said.
“We ask for respect and privacy for the James family and we will update media when there is more information.
“LeBron and Savannah wish to publicly send their deepest thanks and appreciation to the USC medical and athletic staff for their incredible work and dedication to the safety of their athletes.”
Bronny, 18, is an incoming freshman for USC’s basketball team after graduating from Sierra Canyon High School in Los Angeles this spring. The 6-foot-3 combo guard was rated a four-star recruit and shined in the McDonald’s All-American Game in March featuring some of the country’s top high school basketball players.
He averaged 14.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals his senior year of high school, and joined a USC team seeking to reach the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive time.
“So damn proud of you kid!” his father wrote on Instagram after Bronny committed to attend USC. “I have no words besides I LOVE YOU!!!”
James, 38, will enter his 21st season in the NBA and his sixth season with the Los Angeles Lakers. The four-time NBA champion and four-time MVP has said one of his final goals is to play in the NBA with Bronny, who will be eligible to join the NBA next year.
“My last year will be played with my son,” James told the Athletic in 2022. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”
At the ESPY Awards two weeks ago, James stood on stage alongside his wife, Savannah, and sons Bronny, Bryce and daughter Zhuri, who he described as the “greatest blessing in my life.”
“I’m so proud of these two men standing right behind me tonight,” he said, pointing at his teenage sons. “See, they’re on their own basketball journey. And no matter how far they choose to go, they’re not cheating this game. And that inspires me.”
Cardiac arrest and sports
Cardiac arrest occurs when electrical disturbances cause the heart to suddenly stop beating. It may be fatal if not immediately treated, but it can be reversed by CPR and shocks from a defibrillator, according to the American Heart Association.
Sudden cardiac arrest among young athletes is rare but not unheard of. An examination of NCAA student-athlete sudden deaths between 2004 and 2008 found cardiovascular-related sudden death was the leading cause of death in 45 cases, or about 9 each year, according to a 2011 study.
One of the most well-known cases was Hank Gathers, a star forward for Loyola Marymount University who collapsed and died during a conference tournament game in 1990.
A task force convened by the NCAA released guidance in 2016 recommending universities create and practice an emergency action plan for sudden cardiac arrest.
USC’s medical staff has recent experience with such an incident. Last July, USC freshman forward Vince Iwuchukwu suffered a cardiac arrest during a summer workout. In a video posted to Twitter earlier this year, Iwuchukwu said he felt dizzy during a practice water break and then collapsed.
Athletic trainers, including Jon Yonamine, Erin Tillman and Lauren Crawford, performed CPR on him and shocked him back to life, USC said. Iwuchukwu recovered and ultimately made his basketball debut in January, over six months later.
Head coach Andy Enfield praised the training staff in January.
“They really do an amazing job, not only keeping our players healthy, but when something happens, they do therapy, and when something serious happens like in Vince’s case, they’re ready to respond immediately.”
In January, Damar Hamlin of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills suffered a cardiac arrest in the middle of a “Monday Night Football” game and was hospitalized for over a week.
“Prayers to Bronny & The James family as well,” Hamlin wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “Here for you guys just like you have been for me my entire process.”
In April, Hamlin said his cardiac arrest was caused by commotio cordis.
Commotio cordis can occur when severe trauma to the chest disrupts the heart’s electrical charge and causes dangerous fibrillations.
Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after making a tackle and appearing to be hit with a helmet in his chest.
He has been cleared to return to football.
Correction: A previous version of this story gave the wrong date for Damar Hamlin's collapse. It was January 2, 2023.
CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.