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After collapsing on the court in July, Bronny James’ highly anticipated debut as a USC Trojan was indefinitely delayed. At the time, no one was sure whether he’d even be able to start his college hoops career.

Fortunately, James was given a clean bill of health after going into cardiac arrest during a preseason workout. Though he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, doctors cleared him to be able to play.

He made his debut as a USC Trojan on Sunday night with his father, NBA superstar LeBron James, sitting courtside. His first score would be a three-pointer in the second half, causing his father to leap to his feet.

Despite a double-digit halftime lead, Bronny’s Trojans lost 84-79 in an upset to Long Beach State. Bronny played 16 minutes, scoring four points, with three rebounds, two assists, and a block. He was not made available for questions, but after the game, the 19-year-old said that he was grateful to be playing at all.

“I just wanted to say I’m thankful for everything,” Bronny said. “[From] The Mayo Clinic and everything they helped me with, my parents and siblings supporting me through this hard time in my life. I just want to give appreciation to everyone that’s helped me through this. Also, my coach, my teammates and other coaches.”

Bronny’s minutes will be limited as he plays himself into shape. Trojans coach Andy Enfield says he’s been impressed by his player’s maturity thus far.

“Bronny handles the spotlight extremely well,” he told the media. “He’s a passionate young man about playing basketball. I’m not sure what will happen in the future as far as spotlight, but he handles it very well.”

Bronny joins athletes, including his teammate Vince Iwuchukwu, NFL player Damar Hamlin, and Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen, all of whom have suffered a cardiac arrest on the court or field. Some people believe that COVID-19 vaccines have contributed to more cardiac arrests, but cardiologists say that’s not true. In fact, questions around the impact of COVID have helped raise awareness of heart issues.

“What we are seeing, however, is that more people are being evaluated as a result of COVID,” Dr. Matthew Martinez, director of the sports cardiology and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy center at New Jersey’s Morristown Medical Center, who is also a cardiac consultant for the National Basketball Players Association, told ESPN.

“We’re making the diagnosis of underlying congenital heart disease in those who were unaware [they had it], like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, more frequently than we did before. And because of the fear of myocarditis from COVID, more and more parents and more and more athletes are saying, ‘Hey, I have these symptoms, and I’m worried about it,’ and they’re seeking medical attention.”

The Trojans will face Auburn next on Dec. 17.

Heir Air: USC Trojans Come Up Short In Bronny James’ Debut In Overtime Loss  was originally published on

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