Tennessee’s Emmanuel Negedu underwent surgery today to have a cardiac defibrillator placed inside his chest to monitor his heart and track any irregularities in its beat. This means he is assuredly out of the lineup for the 2009-10 season, and in all likelihood, his basketball career has ended.
But he has his life. And for what must have seemed like an eternity to people at the scene last Monday, he didn’t have that. After a weightlifting session, Negedu challenged UT guard Bobby Maze to a sprint on the indoor football field at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center on campus. After he won the race, he suddenly fell over when his heart inexplicably stopped beating. Teammate Scotty Hopson sprinted back to the training room, found trainer Chad Newman, who, along with director of sports medicine Jason McVeigh, shocked Negedu’s heart back to life.
He spent the last week undergoing tests both in Knoxville and the Cleveland Clinic, and the apparent schedule of treatment included today’s surgery. After Negedu gets used to the idea that the procedure will help him remain alive, we’re sure that he’ll learn to appreciate this choice even though it may mean his basketball life as a player is over. He wasn’t a major contributor to the UT team last season, but he showed a good amount of promise, and not having roundball in his life will undoubtedly be difficult for him. Negedu has had an eight-day period unlike that many 20-year olds will ever face, so we hope that his family and support network will be there for him when he’s trying to figure out what to do with a significant amount of additional free time on his hands. The good news is that Tennessee will allow him to remain on scholarship to finish his degree, and we commend the university for that. If he’s interested in remaining in basketball in some capacity, we’d love to see him near the UT bench as a student assistant of some sort.
Sidenote: what’s with UT and the serious health issues lately? Two seasons ago, all-american Chris Lofton was playing with cancer and now Negedu has a heart attack at age 20? ACLs and other minor sports-related injuries (i.e., Melvin Goins, today) make sense, but these are serious issues.