Florida's Johnson releases video message after collapse

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2019, file photo, Florida forward Keyontae Johnson (11) looks on during during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Marshall in Gainesville, Fla. Johnson, the Southeastern Conference's preseason player of the year, collapsed coming out of a timeout against rival Florida State and needed emergency medical attention Saturday, Dec. 1`2, 2020. He was taken off the floor on a stretcher and rushed to Tallahassee Memorial for evaluation. The Gators had no immediate update on his condition. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey, File) (Matt Stamey, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida forward Keyontae Johnson thanked everyone for their support in a video message Friday, his first public appearance since collapsing on the court at Florida State nearly a week ago.

Johnson released a 25-second video on Twitter and Instagram and ended it by doing a Gator chomp that showed an IV line still connected to his right arm. He remains at UF Shands.

“Hey everybody, first and foremost, I would like to thank God,” Johnson said. "I know y’all have been sending your prayers out the last few weeks, and me and my parents are very grateful for the prayers that have been going out.

“To all the doctors and medical staff at Tallahassee Memorial and UF Shands, I just wants to say thank you for all the support y’all gave me, especially the lady that was in the gym at Florida State. To my Gator Nation and UF athletic family, I just want to thank you for all the prayers that y’all gave out to me. Go Gators!”

Johnson crumpled to the floor coming out of a timeout last Saturday and needed emergency medical assistance. He was moved to a stretcher and carried to a waiting ambulance as teammates, coaches, staff, fans and others watched in disbelief.

ESPN declined to show video of the incident. Witnesses said Johnson was standing near midcourt and suddenly fell forward and landed on his face.

He spent two nights at Tallahassee Memorial before being transferred to Gainesville via helicopter with his mother by his side.

Like many of his Florida teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the summer. Although the cause of Johnson’s collapse has not been revealed, the coronavirus can lead to myocarditis, a viral infection of the heart muscle. At its most severe, myocarditis can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and has been a documented cause of death for young, otherwise healthy athletes.

The SEC mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID-19 tests.

Florida has postponed four basketball games since Johnson's collapse. The team is next scheduled to next play Dec. 30 at Vanderbilt, the SEC opener for both schools.

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25