An NBA basketball player brought his skills back to Bloomington-Normal to help bring more defibrillators to schools.
That device saved his brother's life two years ago.
University High alum Keita Bates-Diop helped put on two basketball clinics as a fundraiser for the Illinois Heart and Lung Foundation so it can buy more defibrillators for schools and other public places.
“Some schools obviously have more money than others, they are able to have more things like that,” Bates-Diop said. “Some schools do not have that luxury, so (we are) just raising money and raising awareness for the schools that can’t do it for themselves."
Bates-Diop, who just completed his rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, recalled getting a call from his mother, Wilma, explaining what had happened to his brother Kai. Keita was immediately on a plane heading home, leaving his classes and basketball at Ohio State behind.
He said it was life-changing to see how his brother survived a near-death experience.
“Stuff like that always brings people closer together,” Bates-Diop said. “We are pretty close now, but we don’t talk about it like when it first happened. We take it as a life experience and he’s grown from it into the man he is becoming.”
Kai Bates-Diop has had to give up playing basketball since his cardiac arrest in 2017, but he plans to stay involved in the game. He coordinated the clinics and is studying to become a sports psychologist. He plans to attend Butler University in the fall.
The clinics were for youths in grades 3 through 8.
Lisa Slater, executive director of the IHLF, said approxiately 75 youth attended the basketball camps, raising about $2,000 for new defibrillators.
The IHLF and the Bates-Diop family said they hope to make them an annual event.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in Central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.