WMBB – mypanhandle.com

Former Malone Athlete Looking to Help Save Lives

It’s been over a year since Marianna High School basketball star, Herman Williams collapsed and died while playing a game of pickup basketball at a local court.

The heart condition that took Williams’ life, could affect many other young athletes.

But, a survivor of a similar situation is helping to prevent more deaths related to this illness.

In 2014, a former Malone High School basketball player collapsed during a team workout at Oregon State.

The, then 19-year-old, Chai Baker was diagnosed with a disease known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Baker says he was lucky to have been at school with the proper equipment on hand to save his life.

After a similar situation took the life of Bakers 19-year-old friend, Herman Williams, last summer, he decided to reach out to a non-profit organization, Who We Play For.

The organization provides EKG testing for student athletes.

Soon, Jackson County athletes will be given the opportunity to be tested for free.

“Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in student athletes. It takes more lives than cancer, concussions, any illness combined and multiplied,” said Evan Ernst, Heart Screening Director.

Baker said he wants to try and prevent more instances like Williams’.

“We just want to keep everybody the community that’s young and playing sports, safe. That’s the main goal and one of the biggest reasons I came home so I could help out around,” said Chai Baker, Heart Condition Survivor. 

Baker says that before his incident, he felt completely normal.

He had no signs or symptoms of any illness.

In most cases like Baker’s and Williams’, the individual is unaware of any heart complications.

Baker encourages athletes to get heart tests done, even if they have no symptoms.

“I think it’s very important that student athletes should get it. I mean, parents should consider it being done on their kids so it can prevent anything happening in the future,” said Baker.

For more information, visit whoweplayfor.org.