Advertisement

Bronny James cleared to return to basketball; LeBron calls it ‘a proud moment’

Bronny James watches from the bench as USC plays Eastern Washington
Bronny James watches from the bench as USC plays Eastern Washington at Galen Center on Wednesday night.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Share

Bronny James, the oldest son of LeBron James and a highly touted freshman at USC, has been medically cleared to return to basketball, a mere four months after he suffered sudden cardiac arrest during a training session at USC.

James is expected to return to practice next week after a final evaluation by USC’s staff this week. After that, the expectation is that James will “return to games soon after,” his family said in a statement.

“The James family would like to express their gratitude to the incredible medical team, the entire USC community, and especially the countless friends, family, and fans for their love and support,” the statement read. “Fight On!”

Speaking to reporters after the Lakers’ loss at Oklahoma City on Thursday, LeBron called Bronny’s medical clearance “a proud moment.”

Bronny James’ cardiac arrest initially left USC basketball players in a state of shock. Now they’re looking forward to when he’ll be cleared to play.

Sept. 26, 2023

Advertisement

“Big-time excitement from our family for Bronny. And for USC as well,” James said. “It’s something that he’s been working towards for the last 12 weeks. And for him to get the clearance to do what he loves to do and go back to being with his teammates and put on a uniform and things of that nature, it’s pretty gratifying.”

James collapsed on the Galen Center court in July during a summer run of five-on-five, barely a year after another highly touted Trojans prospect, center Vince Iwuchukwu, suffered a similar cardiac incident. James was hospitalized for three days and later diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. He underwent a heart procedure soon after.

James has been ramping up his activity recently, even warming up with the team before games. After USC’s win over Eastern Washington on Wednesday, coach Andy Enfield said he expected the freshman would be back soon but balked at offering any timeline.

How long it might take for James to ramp up remains a mystery. When Iwuchukwu finally was cleared for contact last December, it took several weeks before he played in a game. It took even longer for him to earn a regular spot in the rotation. And Iwuchukwu never really found his stride.

VIDEO | 02:35
LeBron James talks about Bronny James being cleared to practice

Lakers star LeBron James talks about his son, Bronny James, being cleared to resume practicing with the USC basketball team after suffering cardiac arrest during the summer.

LeBron James said seeing what his son has gone through has put “everything in perspective.”

“Truly understand that nothing else matters other than your loved ones at that moment,” James said. “You just stop everything that you’re doing and it’s literally, how do we help him or your loved one get better, from the moment it happened all the way until they’re successful.

“And it’s not like it’s over. We still have to continue to monitor every situation and be responsible and things of that nature, but we just have an opportunity to take a step back from your own personal life and give it all to that individual.”

Only time will tell whether Bronny finds his stride as a freshman. But his impending return to the court is major news for USC, which could stand to add more talent. The Trojans have lost twice in their last five games, with a matchup Saturday against No. 11 Gonzaga looming.

Advertisement

Whenever James makes his debut for USC, his father plans to be in attendance.

When Bronny James suffered cardiac arrest during a USC basketball workout, the staff drew on its experience treating Vince Iwuchukwu’s cardiac arrest.

July 25, 2023

“Looking forward to his first game whenever he’s cleared and ready to have his first game,” LeBron said. “I already told my teammates that if they play on the same day we’re playing, I’m going to have to catch them the next game.

“I told ya’ll on the plane. Family over everything, champs. I love ya’ll. But definitely got to see Bronny’s first game whenever he’s cleared and ready to go.”

Staff writer Dan Woike contributed to this report.

Advertisement