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Miles Copeland, a Toledo Glass City NBA player who also serves as a firefighter, helped save referee John Sculley’s life after collapsing on the field during a playoff game last weekend.
According to ESPN’s Jamal Collier, Copeland checked Sculli’s vitals and began performing CPR after he didn’t feel a pulse or saw him breathe while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
“It was kind of instinctive,” Copeland said. “It surprised me how quickly I was able to turn into this situation, especially in a basketball game.” “But with being a firefighter, when you’re out of the job, you’re really not out of the job. You still have to keep an eye on society and what’s going on around you.”
Sculley is due to undergo heart surgery this week to correct the blockage that caused his death, and is expected to return to refereeing by next season.
Not only did Copeland help save lives, but he also helped save his team from elimination as Toledo rallied to victory on Saturday. He followed up with another win on Sunday to advance to Thursday’s semi-final against the Kokomo Bobcats. The Basketball League will honor Copeland before the game.
“A man like this deserves to be celebrated,” said league president David Magley. “Not only because he saved his life but for the humility with which he carried himself afterward.”
Copeland is in his freshman year in the NBA and has also been a firefighter for just over a year. The 25-year-old works 24-hour shifts, only training with his team or playing in matches on his days off. He had worked the 24-hour shift before Saturday’s playoff game.
“Since then, people just, like, look at me. They have a different feeling about me, like I’m a hero,” Copeland said. “I’ve been told a lot, but it’s still hard to get that click in my mind because I feel like I was doing another, something else I was supposed to do…I feel like other people see me differently as a hero, but I don’t see myself any differently.”