On Dec. 4, Utah State forward Danny Berger collapsed during practice, and had stopped breathing. The trainers rushed to his side, performed CPR and used an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to save the junior forward’s life.
Nine months later, the 6-foot-6 Berger, who now has an implanted defibrillator, is back to playing for the Aggies, and has been cleared to play without any restrictions this season, according to ESPN’s Andy Katz.
“Basketball is an enormous part of my life,” Berger told Katz. “I’m sure it is to a lot of people too. I want to be that guy that is an example to a lot of people. I want to give them hope.”
Several heroes emerged from Berger’s life-threatening moment. Utah State trainer Mike Williams was quick to respond. The Aggies manager Jessie Parker knew the exact location of the facility’s AED and had the presence of mind to immediately get it once Berger collapsed. Even former Providence star, and Oklahoma State Thunder forward played a role. Gomes had donated multiple AED machines to schools, one of them being Utah State. According to Katz, Berger flew to Connecticut this summer and met Gomes, playing in his golf tournament.
Unfortunately, Berger’s situation is not uncommon. Most recently, Wichita State’s freshman guard D.J. Bowles collapsed during a practice on Sept. 3. Luckily, like in the case for Berger, trainers were quick to react, and on Thursday Bowles underwent a procedure to have an internal defibrillator installed. Berger has had a challenging nine months, but since returning to the court with the rest of his Aggie teammates, he appears to remain the same person.
“I gathered the team together in summer workouts and told them that they’ve got to take care of themselves because last year killed me,” Utah State Stew Morrill recalled. “Danny then spoke up and said, ‘Me too.’ It was a great line. He has a great sense of humor. But seriously, he is an unbelievable kid.”
Berger was averaging 7.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists before the events that occurred on Dec. 4. He is expected to play both forward positions this season.