TAMPA (FOX 13) - University of Tampa men's basketball guard Matt Johnson is looking back on a successful four years, on and off the court. He's especially grateful for every day and every moment after a brush with potentially fatal heart problems in high school.
When he was 15, Matt collapsed during a practice.
"I remember going over to the sidelines just to rest my hand on the bleachers and just relax, and when I lifted my hand to the bleachers to relax, I ended up passing out," Johnson recalled.
Doctors thought he had a potentially fatal heart condition. His mom broke the news that he wouldn't be allowed to play anymore.
"I remember my mom came into my room and she was crying. She came to my bed and she sat over on my left side, and she told me that the doctor said you're fine, but you can't ever play basketball again," he said. "I'm lucky to be alive, but at the same time, what I've been doing my whole life was just taken away from me."
But he was luckier than he thought. Doctors ultimately realized they were wrong about the severity of his heart's condition. He was cleared to return to the game he loves, but he always holds the experience close. He listens to his heart and those close to him.
"That's something now that's just hard to find: A guy that understands what the coach wants," UT basketball head coach Richard Schmidt said. "Matt listens and is a very smart player."
Johnson's health scare also scared away D-I recruiters, but he says he wouldn't trade his time in Tampa for anything.
"I feel like it all worked out for the best. I've had a really solid academic career here. I'm graduating in May," Johnson said.
He will have his degree in accounting, which is fitting for a man counting his blessings.