Zephyrhills disc golfing champion returns after near death experience

JohnE McCray, Masters Disc Golf World Champion, woke up in an Orlando hospital in February and heard the news he had died. 

"Now, when I realized what had happened to me, it's definitely very scary," remembered McCray. 

McCray's heart stopped for four whole minutes. 

"It's definitely more scary now than it was then because I was just trying to make it," said McCray. 

McCray was competing in Orlando when he noticed a pain creeping from his arm down to his chest. 

RELATED: Ex-soccer player is 1st in the league to be diagnosed with CTE

"I didn't think too much about it until seven, eight, nine holes in," said McCray. 

Realizing he was in trouble, McCray sought help. 

Luckily for him, there was a doctor playing in the group ahead of his who recognized McCray’s symptoms and called an ambulance immediately. 

"It was very lucky," said McCray. "If I would've tried to play one more hole, I wouldn't have made it."

After his ride to the Hospital, McCray says he barely made it to the emergency room before his heart stopped. 

JohnE McCray low angle

For four minutes McCray lie dead on a table as doctors worked to restart his heart. 

Two days later, McCray woke up in his hospital bed and learned about his massive heart attack, but his mind was still only on one thing. 

"As soon as I came to I asked my wife, 'Can I play tomorrow?'" remembered the 50-year-old from Pasco County. 

Under doctors’ orders, however, it would be months until McCray could play again. That didn't stop the  Zephyrhills player from making his comeback. 

Meanwhile, the disc golfing community around the world banding together to rally around McCray and raised more than $30,000 to help cover his medical expenses.

JohnE McCray playing disc golf

"It's been amazing. It means more than anything for sure," said McCray with tears in his eyes. 

Now with a defibrillator and three stints in his heart, McCray is heading back to the Masters World Championships in July looking for another title and to prove that he still has the heart of a champion. 

"Just being there is a win because I’m still alive," said McCray. "I want to do good to prove to everybody that I’ve been working hard and that their support has meant a ton to me and my family."

RELATED: Tampa Bay Lightning releases 2022-23 preseason schedule

So far, McCray has competed in two smaller tournaments in Florida since his heart attack. 

He won both and now looks to do the same on a much bigger scale.