After collapsing during Saturday’s game against Georgia Southern, the Monarchs’ point guard Imo Essien was back in full swing at Tuesday’s practice.



Since Saturday, the Old Dominion University sophomore guard’s life has been a blur. He explained that he did not fully grasp what occurred until lying in bed after the game. Essien was playing defense when he suddenly fell to the ground on Saturday with just over 13 minutes left in the first half.

According to the Daily Mail, Essien made a feeble attempt to stand up, then clearly gave up and painfully went back down. The guard appeared conscious throughout the ordeal and walked off the court after trainers from both schools tended to him immediately.

“It just felt like it was hard to breathe like I was breathing through a straw. With this being a sensitive topic for me it’s hard to replay, but that’s the truth, it was very hard to breathe,” Essien recalled. “I felt like I couldn’t catch my wind. At the end, right before I went down, it just felt like all my wind was gone like I got hit in the stomach. I had nothing else in me.”





Coach Jeff Jones described the incident as “scary as hell,” seeing Essien go down.

“It was scary as hell,” Jones said. “Particularly in light of the (Damar) Hamlin situation happening so recently, I think the worst kind of flashed through everybody’s minds.”

The similarities between Essien and Hamlin are astounding. They both have birthdays on March 24, wear the same number three, and their incidents happened less than a week apart.

Essien called it the most terrifying experience of his life.

“Fortunately for me, my brothers had my back, my coaching staff has me, my parents were there, so I was very comfortable after the situation,” he reflected.

Monarch junior guard Mekhi Long was also on the court during the game.

“Our strength would come in with each other, so we’ve got to be strong for Imo. We’ve got to do that by sticking together to win this game for him,” he said.


Essien eventually joined his team on the bench during the second half of Saturday’s game after Old Dominion head athletic trainer Jason Mitchell and other medical personnel assisted in helping his breathing return to normal.

As the guard completed practice drills on Tuesday, another spark was visible. But, unfortunately, he must wait and refrain from participating in any live basketball action. The sophomore guard saw a cardiologist on Monday, but doctors have been unable to determine what caused him to pass out on Saturday, according to WTKR News 3.

“I’m waiting until the cardiologist, the pulmonologist and whoever the heck else it is … if they all give the thumbs-up then that’s great. If they want to wait, then we wait,” Jones noted.

‘I’m jealous of these guys,” Essien remarked with a smile on his face. “These guys get to go out there and play ball. They get to play and compete against somebody else and I wish I could be doing that, but at the same time I understand what just happened. I understand the seriousness of a situation.”



We’re happy he’s in high spirits and ready to return to the game. We hope this isn’t a major setback and he can play again soon.