A college basketball player for Old Dominion University suddenly collapsed during a game against Georgia Southern University on Saturday. Medical professionals still aren’t sure what caused sophomore guard Imo Essien to fall down on the court during the first half of the game.
Video shows the moment Essien falls into a sitting position while playing defense near the net. He reaches out to land on his hands, as if he is at least partially in control of sitting down. Then he doubles over and slowly falls onto his side while holding a hand near his midsection.
Medical personnel rushed to Essien, who never appeared to lose consciousness and walked off the court with the help of trainers, Fox News reported. In a statement, ODU said he “was able to sit with the team for the duration of the game” and was “in good spirits.”
Essien returned to practice on Tuesday and described what he experienced to local news outlet WTKR.
“It was very hard to breathe,” he said. “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.”
“This doesn’t happen,” he added, “especially for someone like me. I’ve been playing basketball all my life.”
In a tweet the day after the incident, Essien said it had been “by far the scariest day of my life,” and that he’d never imagined “having to go through something that severe.”
Essien is still prohibited from playing live basketball games while the cause of the incident remains unclear. He visited with a cardiologist on Monday, WTKR reported.
The incident came five days after an NFL player suddenly collapsed on the field. Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin – who shares a jersey number and birth date with Essien – was recently discharged from the hospital after suffering cardiac arrest during a game on Jan. 2, NPR reported.
The cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest remains to be determined through further testing.