I decided that I still wanted to be around the game of basketball. It was difficult at first because my dream was always to play in college. That dream felt like it was stolen from me in one second and there was nothing I could do about it. As time went on, it got easier. I worked out my brother and was proud of the player he was becoming. I was serving as a student-assistant for my high school team. This was the hardest part for me. I wished I could be out there helping the team. When I went to Quinnipiac University as a freshman I became a student-manager for the Men’s Basketball team. This opportunity had an enormous impact on my life. I realized that I could make coaching basketball a career and I put four years of hard work into the position before getting my first coaching job at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. After one year, I was hired back at Quinnipiac University as the Director of Men’s Basketball Operations. I held that position for three years before being hired as an assistant coach at Southern CT State University, a title which I hold today. Although it was very difficult to not be able to play anymore, I was able to still be passionate about the game of basketball through watching my brother grow up and also through coaching. Mike
I spent two long weeks at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. The first two days I was unconscious. Once I awoke, I had no short term memory. A bunch of people had sent me “Get Well” cards. My mom would hand me one. I would read it and smile. Then I would put it down and immediately ask to read the same card, like I had never read it again. Then, someone would walk in the room and I could tell them something that happened years ago. It was very frustrating for those around me and doctors weren’t sure if my short term memory would ever come back. I went through a multitude of testing and eventually diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. My cardiologist said that based on my circumstances and with there being no AED on site, my chances of survival were one in a million. She also delivered some crushing news: I would no longer be able to play competitive basketball. Everything I had worked for over the years was taken away from me, in one second. I had a defibrillator surgically implanted. After 14 long days, I was finally able to go home. Although I was relieved to leave the hospital, I was anxious and nervous about living with this condition….more later – Mike
Eventually the counselors escorted all of the campers out of the gym. Someone called 9-1-1 implying that a teenager had a broken bone. Quickly, after a second 9-1-1 call came through saying a 17-year-old boy was on the ground and unconscious. My hero, Bob, was working his job in a building next door to the Parks and Recreation Center. He lso served as a volunteer EMT. He typically didn’t have his pager on while working. For some reason, that day, he did. He got the call and came over to the scene where he found me on the ground, turning blue. I was taking agonal breaths; the last breaths you take before you die. He immediately took control of the entire situation and started performing CPR. He performed it perfectly, saving my life, and my brain. He sustained me until an AED came in the ambulance. They shocked my heart back to a normal heart rhythm. I was quickly rushed in the ambulance to Mid-State Medical Center in Meriden, CT. Meanwhile, my brother and my best friend, stood in the lobby of the building shocked about what had just happened. A cop walked in the door and announced out loud he was there to report the death of a 17-year-old male from earlier that morning….
At the age of 17, my life seemed perfect. I was heading into my senior year of high school, I had a good group of friends, and most importantly, my dreams were coming true. My dream growing up was always to play basketball in college. It was something I dedicated my life to. I played all year round and spent my summers working out in gyms with my brother John and my best friend Conor. It started to become a lifestyle. The spring and summer heading into my senior year was a big one in terms of getting recruited by colleges. As I played in the spring colleges started watching. I started getting letters sent to my house. Coaches were calling my parents and me to sell their university. It was a very exciting time for everyone. Everything I had worked for my whole life was starting to pay off.
On August 24, 2006, my entire life changed, in one second. I woke up that morning with my brother. We went to our school where we would complete our daily basketball workout. Following the workout, we went to the local recreation center where we were both serving as counselors for my father’s basketball camp. At about 8:30 that morning I changed my shirt and that is the last thing I remember from that day. Apparently, two hours later around 10:30 as I was sitting on the bleachers coaching some kids during their game, I slumped over onto the floor. People thought it was a joke. Someone came over and told me to get up.
The trainer froze. There was no AED on site. I was in cardiac arrest.