HSA Columbus High Basketball Player Returns After Health Scare

This article was first published by 10WBNS, Carla Rogner,  reporter for 10WBNS

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sam Lamboi is back on the basketball court after a frightening start to his senior year basketball season.

The Horizon Science Academy student was at practice in October when he collapsed on the court and suffered cardiac arrest due to an unknown heart condition.

His coaches, Robert Tate and Bradley Palmer, immediately sensed something was wrong with their star player and rushed to his aid. With the help of 911 dispatchers, Tate performed CPR as Palmer worked to set up the AED that was thankfully available at the high school.

For Tate and Palmer, coaching basketball is a responsibility they take seriously so when one of their players needed help, they didn’t give it second thought. 

“We are kind of like fathers to these guys... they get on our nerves sometimes and everything but there is nothing we wouldn't do for them,” Tate said.

They are still shaken up as they recall the event, five months later.

“I thought immediately — cardiac arrest, and it was a shock, a real shock,” Palmer said.

They recall seeing his eyes roll in the back of his head.

“I was pushing so hard trying to get his heart to beat again,” Tate said.

Lamboi was rushed to the hospital, and doctors credited the swift action by his coaches with saving his life.

“We don't think we are heroes or anything, we just were trying to save one of our boy's life,” Palmer said.

Lamboi disagrees.

“They are more than heroes. If I could give them my heart I would,” he said.

Lamboi is now one of ten finalists across the country for a Naismith High School Basketball Courage Award, which is awarded to two students each year. He will find out in March if he wins, but regardless of the outcome, his comeback has been an inspiration for his school community and his team.

His classmates at Horizon Science Academy made t-shirts with Lamboi’s number, 11, at the center to raise money for his recovery and show support. His coaches and teammates stayed by his side.

“I remember they brought me food, they checked up on me, they played games with me, they were just there,” Lamboi said.

As soon as he began recovering, Lamboi’s goal was to get back on the basketball court as soon as possible. He came to every practice, even if he couldn’t play just yet, acting as an honorary coach.

“He was like our team captain. He would encourage the guys," the coaches said. "He always brought them up [and] he would always tell them what they were doing wrong especially the players who never got to play a lot. He is one great kid."

Now, Lamboi finally has clearance to play again for just a few minutes at a time.

“It felt good people yelling my name screaming and stuff - getting my shot. It felt like I was normally back,” he said of his first game since the incident. “I am happy to be here. Life is good.”

Tate and Palmer said it was their first time performing CPR and using an AED, but they are thankful they paid attention in the required courses, and urge others to do the same.

The American Red Cross offers CPR training in person and online. To learn more, click here.