Hero’s moment: Hoops player helps save ref’s life

Hero’s moment: Hoops player helps save ref’s life

4: 49 PM ET

  • collier jamal

    Jamal CollierESPN

After wrapping up a 24-hour shift as a firefighter in Toledo, Ohio, this past weekend, Myles Copeland went to New York to suit up for his other job, a player for Toledo Glass City of The Basketball League, for a playoff game against the Jamestown Jackals. But his worlds collided at the end of Saturday’s first quarter when John Sculli, a referee, fell asleep on the court and became unresponsive.

It happened from Toledo’s bench and Copeland immediately jumped into action. Copeland checked Sculli’s vitals but couldn’t see or feel his pulse. So he began CPR until paramedics arrived.

” It was almost instinctual. It was amazing how quickly I was able switch into that mode, especially when I was playing in a basketball match,” Copeland stated during a telephone interview with ESPN on Wednesday. “But being a firefighter means that you aren’t off the job when you’re not on it. You have to be aware of what’s happening in the community. “

Copeland’s quick response helped save Sculli’s life. He will have heart surgery to remove a blockage that caused him coma. He is expected to return to reffing next season.

After Copeland’s heroics, Toledo rallied and won Saturday’s elimination game. It will now face the Kokomo Bobcats in the conference semifinals. The Basketball League will honor Copeland before that game.

” “A guy like that deserves to be celebrated,” said league president David Magley in a telephone interview. “Not only because he saved his own life, but also because of the humility with which it was done.

“He is our hero because he took responsibility for his actions and won’t take credit for them. It was a matter of divine timing. “

Copeland, 25, played Division III college basketball at Trine University in Indiana, and this is his first season playing with The Basketball League. He has been a Toledo firefighter for just over a year.

His shifts at the fire department are 24 hours long followed by 48 hours off, so during the season he only made it to practices or games that fell on his days off. It was a good timing that he managed to finish his shift Saturday morning in time for the playoff game.

” People have been looking at me since then. Copeland stated that people have a different perception of me. “They feel like you’re a hero.” It’s something that has been repeated to me many times, but it’s still hard for me to feel that click in my brain because I feel like I was doing another deed, another thing than I was supposed to. It didn’t feel like anything was extra. It’s what I was meant to do. God was able and willing to work through me. Although I feel that others see me differently as a hero than I do, I don’t see any difference in myself. “

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