(News4usonline) – Starting at a young age, athletes face tremendous pressure to perform to the best of their abilities. The money and fame of being a modern-day sports star are enough to, in theory, push players beyond their limits.
Record-breaking contracts are agreed upon yearly; even the highest-level college players can make millions. When we hear about a young elite athlete like Bronny James suffering a cardiac arrest in practice, we take a moment to stop and think.
Behind the scenes at our intro video shoot ?— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) October 10, 2023
Get to Galen to see it in person in exactly one month! pic.twitter.com/1gvsvepIoH
“I want to thank the countless people sending my family love and prayers. We feel you and I’m so grateful. Everyone (is) doing great. We have our family together, safe and healthy, and we feel your love. Will have more to say when we’re ready but I wanted to tell everyone how much your support has meant to all of us,” tweeted LeBron James.
LeBron has accomplished everything in the sport of basketball. He has made it clear he has one more NBA goal on his bucket list before his jersey officially hangs in the rafters. He wants to play alongside his son.
“Bronny is number one on my list (of players) that I want to play with for sure… Not too long ago, I asked him what he wanted to do with this. He said I want to make a name for myself,” the King said on his show The Shop.
Did LeBron place too much pressure on Bronny to fulfill this desire before he was ready?
When the news broke, we did not know the underlying reason for the incident at USC. Fortunately, James Jr. has quickly recovered and seems in good health now, but questions undoubtedly surround his future as a basketball player.
We have since learned that Bronny has a heart defect that was previously unknown. This discovery clears up some uncertainty as doctors claim this should not be a career-ending deformity.
“It is an anatomically and functionally significant Congenital Heart Defect which can and will be treated. We are very confident in Bronny’s full recovery and return in the very near future,” said Stephanie Rosa in a statement released by the LeBron James Family Foundation.
Wishing Bronny James a Happy Birthday! ? pic.twitter.com/znwvdehYYI— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) October 6, 2023
The positive news following a scary situation means we may still see the father-son duo one day, but Bronny’s health and well-being will obviously take precedence.
It is important to remember we must not blame LeBron or the current over-exploitation climate in modern-day athletics for something like this happening. Heart-related injuries and deaths have always existed in competition. The National Library of Medicine notes the first recorded athlete death from heart complications dating back to a long-distance messenger, Pheidippides, in 490 BC.
In recent history, several high-profile athletes have died from sudden cardiac arrest, including Pete Maravich, Hank Gathers, and Reggie Lewis. Just last year, we saw Damar Hamlin’s life saved on Monday night football after taking an impact to the chest.
“One of the most challenging and complicated aspects of these sudden cardiac arrests in athletes is trying to find the cause because there are plenty of times where doctors cannot identify what led to the cardiac arrest,” said sports medicine doctor Brian Setterer on his YouTube channel. “Knowing this is congenital means it was something that he has had from birth. This is not something that was acquired. This is not related to a shot, and this is something he has had since he was born.”
Unfortunately, cardiac issues do exist in sports, and even though it is rare, it could hypothetically happen to anyone. Screening for heart conditions is a difficult task. It is reported that 1 out of 200 individuals in the general population suffer from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), accounting for the highest number of cardiac-related deaths in athletes. What makes this so challenging is that the first symptom for many is a heart attack.
The American Heart Association recommends screening for young competitive athletes that can help identify at-risk individuals. The recommended screening includes personal history, family history, and a physical exam. Athletes who repetitively experience symptoms like shortness of breath and dizziness are far more likely to have a heart defect.
Sudden cardiac arrest in athletes is shocking and infrequent, but it is nothing new. Luckily, Bronny is healthy, and his career is not over if everything goes as planned. In his case, it was just a matter of time before his heart defect was detected, and the basketball community is fortunate he was in good hands at the time of the cardiac arrest.
Benjamin Verbrugge is a student at CSU Dominguez Hill studying journalism. “Sports have brought me much joy throughout my life, and I want to be able to give a little back to something that has meant so much to me. I grew up in Los Angeles primarily following the Lakers and Dodgers, but I am also an avid fan of sporting events, news, and stories in general.”