A professional basketball player saved the life of a referee who collapsed in the middle of a playoff game.
Myles Copeland suited up for a playoff game in the Basketball League – a minor league basketball organization. Copeland’s Toledo Glass City Basketball Club was playing against the Jamestown Jackals in New York on Saturday night. Copeland had just gotten done working a 24-hour shift as a firefighter in Toledo, Ohio.
During the game, referee John Sculli passed out and collapsed onto the court. Thankfully, Copeland utilized his firefighter skills. Copeland instantly sprinted towards the downed referee and sprang into action.
Sculli was unresponsive, and Copeland couldn’t feel a pulse or see him breathing. So the pro basketball player immediately began administering CPR until paramedics arrived.
“It was kind of instinctual. It surprised me how quick I was able to switch into that mode, especially being in a basketball game,” Copeland told ESPN. “But with being a firefighter, when you’re off the job, you’re really not off the job. You still got to keep an eye out for the community and what’s going on around you.”
Sculli’s fiancée, Donna Metz, was in the stands when she saw her loved one pass out.
“I’m a nurse too, but I was not a nurse that time. There was [no] nurse in me when that was going on,” Metz said.
Copeland saved Sculli’s life.
Sculli regained consciousness before he was taken out of the arena by EMTs. Sculli – who has been officiating for nearly 40 years – asked to return to the court to officiate, but EMTs shot down that proposal. He was transported to a local hospital.
(CAUTION: Some viewers may find the following video disturbing)
“There has been not one EMT, one ED doctor that has not said it is a miracle that he is alive today,” Metz added.
The referee is scheduled to have heart surgery this week to fix the blockage that caused him to collapse mid-game.
Copeland is being heralded as a hero, but he plays down the praise.
“Everyone since then has been calling me a hero. It just doesn’t click in my mind that I’m a hero. It’s just a small act that I perform. (It) feels like I just did CPR another day on the job,” Copeland told WTOL.
“I didn’t feel like I went out of my way to do anything special. It’s just what I was put here to do,” Copeland explained. “God was able to work through me. I feel like other people see me differently as a hero, but I don’t see myself any different.”
Metz disagreed with Copeland, and said he is Sculli’s hero.
“[John] said today, ‘Myles is his hero.’ There is such a deep knowledge that without Myles, that I wouldn’t still have him,” Metz said.
The Basketball League president David Magley also lauded Copeland as a hero.
“A guy like this deserves to be celebrated,” Magley said. “Not just because he saved his life but the humility with which he carried himself afterwards. He’s the kind of person that’s our hero because he stepped up when he needed to and he won’t take any of the credit himself. It was just divine timing.”
Following Copeland’s heroic actions, Toledo rallied to win the elimination game.
Toledo basketball player saves referee’s life following on-court collapse