Bronny James is seen with his father LeBron James at a basketball game.Share on Pinterest
Bronny James is out of the ICU and in stable condition following a cardiac arrest on the court at USC. Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images
  • LeBron James’ son Bronny James is in stable condition after going into cardiac arrest during a USC practice on July 24.
  • Cardiac arrest was responsible for about 75% of sudden deaths among college athletes in the U.S. from 2004 to 2008. The condition is more common among males, especially basketball players.
  • Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating suddenly and with little or no warning. It can be fatal if appropriate care is not started immediately.

Bronny James, the 18-year-old son of NBA star LeBron James, was hospitalized on July 24 after going into cardiac arrest during basketball practice at the University of Southern California (USC), a family spokesperson told CBS Sports.

“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 spokesperson said in a statement.

“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 James announced in May that he had committed to playing for USC’s basketball team starting in the fall.

According to a 2011 study that looked at sudden deaths in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), cardiovascular incidents were the leading cause of death among college athletes between 2004 and 2008. Of the 273 sudden deaths that were examined, that means 75% were cardiovascular-related.

In addition, a statement study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology said that the overall risk of sudden cardiac death in U.S. college athletes during or soon after exertion is 1 in 54,000.

The rate is higher among male athletes (1 in 38,000) than female athletes (1 in 122,000).

According to a 2016 review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, male basketball players and football players in the NCAA have the highest risk of sudden cardiac death. These athletes account for 23% of athletes in the NCAA, but more than 50% of sudden death due to cardiac arrest.

While men’s college basketball accounts for only 4% of male college athletes, it represents almost 20% of sudden cardiac death cases.

Other college athlete groups with a higher-than-average risk of sudden cardiac death include men’s soccer, men’s football and women’s cross-country.

“Cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death in a young collegiate athlete is a rare but catastrophic event,” Dr. Saurabh Rajpal, a cardiologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, told Healthline.

“But it is devastating for the athlete, their family, teammates and fans.”

Famous cases of sudden cardiac death among athletes include Hank Gathers, a prominent college basketball player during the late 1980s and early 1990s, who died of sudden cardiac arrest at 23 years old. Thousands of fans witnessed Gathers’ collapse on the Loyola Marymount University court during the 1990 West Coast Conference tournament semifinals. It was the second time that year he had collapsed during a game.

In addition, NBA G League player Zeke Upshaw, died at 26 years old in 2018, two days after collapsing on the court, and Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis, died on the basketball court at age 27 in 1993.

Last July, USC freshman Vince Iwuchukwu, experienced a cardiac arrest during a basketball team workout. After a long recovery, he was able to return to practice in late 2022.

And earlier this year, NFL player Damar Hamlin had a near-fatal collapse on “Monday Night Football,” which was later determined to be caused by commotio cordis following a hit to his chest during a tackle. This rare medical condition can occur after a blunt impact to the chest.

According to Dr. Brian Sutterer, a medical doctor specializing in orthopedics and sports medicine with a substantial YouTube following, Bronny James’ career could be over. Sutterer is known for his videos that analyze injuries sustained by players in the NBA.

In addition, a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) notes that cardiac arrest cases outside of the hospital have an 8% survival rate with good neurological outcomes.

Still, some professional athletes who’ve gone into cardiac arrest, such as Iwuchukwu and Keyontae Johnson, have recovered and continued their careers, as noted by the New York Post.

Other medical experts have said that Bronny James’ fast transition out of the ICU is an indicator he will make a full recovery.

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating suddenly and with little or no warning. It can be fatal if correct care is not started immediately.

Correct care includes CPR to keep the blood flowing to the vital organs and using a defibrillator to shock the heart and restore a healthy rhythm. This should be followed by medical treatment, supportive care, and testing at a hospital.

“Our thoughts are with the entire James family as they work through this health emergency,” said Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer of the AHA, in a statement. “Recognizing cardiac arrest, calling 911 immediately, performing CPR and using an AED [automated external defibrillator] as soon as it is available are critical for survival.”

Most cardiac arrests are caused by a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system, which leads to the heart not beating properly.

Sudden cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack due to a blockage in an artery that stops blood flow to the heart. This loss of blood supply leads to death of the heart muscle tissue.

Other causes of cardiac arrest include:

  • scarring of the heart tissue
  • thickened heart muscle
  • heart medications
  • problems with the blood vessels
  • recreational drug use

Thickened heart muscle, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death — or death due to cardiac arrest — in athletes younger than 35 years of age. The thickening of the muscle can make the heart more susceptible to an irregular rhythm.

Dr. Rajpal said other common causes of sudden cardiac arrest in athletes include inherited diseases that cause abnormal heart rhythm, coronary artery disease, and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle after an infection).

And commotio cordis, the extremely rare cause of cardiac arrest suffered by Hamlin, can disrupt the heart’s rhythm.

At this time, there is no indication of the cause of Bronny James’ cardiac arrest.

LeBron James’ son Bronny James is in stable condition after going into cardiac arrest during basketball practice.

According to a family statement, the 18-year-old college student is out of the ICU.

Cardiac arrest in young people is often caused by thickened heart muscle or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but other causes can include medication, inflammation of the heart muscle, and inherited diseases.

It is unknown what led to Bronny James’ cardiac arrest.