Courtside heroes saved basketball player's life: 'I love those guys'
Two months had passed since Ty Solomon’s heart stopped beating and he collapsed on the South Carolina State sideline during a men’s basketball game against N.C. State at PNC Arena.
So, when Solomon ordered a fried – yes, fried – seafood platter at Chestnut Grill on a recent Monday afternoon, he did not have to say that his life was back to some semblance of normal, if only with a different perspective on it all.
“I don’t take anything for granted anymore,” Solomon says. “I don’t hold grudges.”
As if he needs a reminder, Solomon awakes every morning, looks in the mirror and taps what he calls the “maturation scar” on his chest, just below his left shoulder. He tells himself to live the approaching day to the fullest, to be thankful for every waking moment.
Solomon has returned to class and is on course to graduate with a degree in electrical engineering in May 2019. Of the four doctors he consulted, Solomon sided with the two who recommended that he never play organized basketball again. Otherwise, all doctors said he can resume normal activity, including physical fitness that he hopes will help shed the 20 pounds he has gained since the incident.
Solomon’s family does not want to say what kind of surgery Solomon underwent on Dec. 3 at UNC Rex Healthcare’s N.C. Heart and Vascular Hospital. He says the surgery allows his heart to beat regularly and diminishes the chance of a recurring incident.
Solomon was sitting on the S.C. State bench when he collapsed with 13:08 remaining in the first half of the Wolfpack’s 103-71 victory on Dec 2. The announced crowd of 13,000 fell silent in the arena as Tyler Long, S.C. State’s athletics trainer, administered CPR and EMS personnel used a defibrillator to revive Solomon.
Solomon will only allow that doctors believe he suffered from an irregular heartbeat.
Five days later, Solomon was released from the hospital in Raleigh and returned with his family to their Charleston area home. He then enrolled for the spring semester at S.C. State and is taking a full load of classes in addition to completing the unfinished school work from the previous semester.
Solomon has watched video of the incident four times since, mostly because he does not recall anything until he was wheeled from the arena on a gurney. He says he likely will still call up the video on his phone 20 years from now when he senses a situation that might place stress on his heart.
“In life, things happen for a reason that none of us understand,” says S.C. State coach Murray Garvin. “I truly feel that Ty is still trying to figure it all out. When he does, he will have an impact on a lot of people. Matter of fact, he already has. He’s a great example of human perseverance.”
Solomon says he is forever thankful to paramedics and to Long.
“That’s my best friend,” Solomon says, “my guy.”
Whenever the two cross, usually at an S.C. State basketball practice or game, Solomon greets Long with another sincere offering of thanks. One day, Long (who has not granted an interview since the incident) insisted that a “thank you” was no longer necessary.
“I still do it,” Solomon says.
If nothing else has been gained from the incident, Solomon says his family is much tighter these days, particularly his divorced parents, Cedric Solomon and Delores Speights. Solomon also has become a more loving brother to his three siblings.
In December of 2016, younger sister Taighlor Solomon, placed a pair of Ugg boots on her Christmas wish list from her brother. Solomon assessed his financial situation at the time and determined he could not afford the boots.
This past December, while recovering from his heart surgery, Solomon arranged to work and earn spending money at a Porter-Gaud School basketball camp in Charleston. His Christmas gift to his sister was a pair of Ugg boots.