Friends mobilize to help Toronto teenager who collapsed on basketball court

Friends of 17 year old Rayvonte Ball are still in shock over the sudden collapse of the basketball player on the court almost three weeks ago.

17-year-old basketball player and mentor Rayvonte Ball is in ICU after collapsing almost three weeks ago

Friends of 17-year old Rayvonte Ball are raising money for his care when he leaves Sick Kids. He has been in a coma since he collapsed while playing basketball three weeks ago. (GoFundMe)

Friends of 17-year-old Rayvonte Ball are still in shock over the sudden collapse of the basketball player on the court almost three weeks ago.

"He was a physically fit person," said Dave McNee, managing director at Quantum Sports and Learning Association, a charitable organization that uses sports to promote learning, where Ball worked and volunteered. "It's quite a shock so it's something we're still coming to grips with."

On Saturday March 25, Ball collapsed on a basketball court in the middle of a game.

"As he started making noises, we said, 'Whoa, give him some space,'" recounted Trayvone Clayton, a teammate and friend. "He was shaking so we said, 'Put him on his side' as they put him over on his side, foam starts coming out of his mouth. We're panicking; we don't know what to do."

Ball was admitted to Sick Kids Hospital, where he's been in a coma ever since.

"When you see him, it's so hard to believe that he's not awake yet or that this happened," said McNee.

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'I just keep praying'

That has Ball's mother, Suzett, hoping for a miracle.

She says Ball appeared to be in perfect health before the collapse and that there were absolutely no warning signs that he might have been sick. 

Doctors have told Rayvonte Ball's mother that he suffers from Long QT syndrome. a condition that can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats that can trigger a seizure. (Quantum Sports and Learning Association)

"I just keep praying and hoping that he'll wake up ... that I will someday see him smile, hear him say, 'Mom, just leave be alone,' because I bug him so much."

When Ball fell, she says, it took paramedics around 20 minutes to find a pulse — vital minutes as his brain was being deprived of oxygen.

'He might never walk, might never talk'

Doctors have told her Ball has a heart condition called Long QT syndrome that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats that can trigger a seizure. In some cases, it can also lead to sudden death. 

"I don't know what the future for my son looks like right now. I'm been told he might never walk, might never talk — his major functions are all gone."

Ball's classmates at Central Tech started a Go Fund Me page to raise money for his care when the Grade 12 student leaves the hospital.

Suzett Ball says her son's collapse was 'a real wake-up call,' and hopes other parents with kids in sports have their children tested for Long QT Syndrome. (CBC)

"There has been word that he will have some long-term damage from the incident. His heart did stop for more than five minutes," said McNee. "This is going to be a long road so the amount that they're trying to raise for him, the $100,000 is all going to go towards that ... to keep him happy and healthy."

'My son is a fighter'

Ball also worked as a coach and mentor for Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan book club charity.

There have been some encouraging signs of improvement, said Ball's mother, but things haven't turned the corner for the teen yet.

Friends of Ball wear buttons of support as they hope for him to recover. (Michelle Cheung/CBC)

"I'm just trying my best to stay strong," she said. "I might have to live with the fact that he might only open his eyes, I might never hear his voice again, I may never see him smile again — it's a hard thing, it's a really hard thing to accept."

For now, Ball's house is full of people bringing their love and support. But it feels empty without him, his mother says.

However, she's holding out hope.

"My son is a fighter. And I will never give up on him."