Edison’s Deshawn Caldwell’s heart stopped and a promising career was almost cut short, but it's how he fought through a near-death experience that has given his Eagle teammates motivation to never quit.
"It's been really good to be out here with my brothers,” Caldwell said. “They're the ones that have helped me the most."
Caldwell encourages and helps his Eagle teammates whether it's at practice or on the sidelines.
"He's just like a coach,” stated head football coach Tony Daniels. “He wants to be out there; he wants to help motivate."
Caldwell, a two-sport athlete, was looking forward to playing his senior season, but back in April on the basketball court, Caldwell didn't know if he'd ever play sports again.
"At first, we thought it was some joke or something, but we realized it was a serious situation,” said assistant basketball coach Wan U. “We started doing CPR and then it got real scary."
Edison defensive back Marcus Mays recalled the incident. "I see the ambulance and stuff and I just walk in, and as I walked in they were carrying him out," he said.
Caldwell collapsed after a basketball practice in February.
It was an enlarged heart muscle that caused the collapse. Paramedics rushed to the gym, but for a time his heart beat stopped. Shortly after, they got a pulse.
"When I woke up in the hospital, I was very nervous. I didn't know what happened,” said Caldwell. “When they told me, it was unbelievable."
With love and support from family and friends and his love of sports, Caldwell didn't give up. Just over a month later, he was out of the hospital. EMSA was honored for their quick response, and now Caldwell wants to help his Eagles on the field rather than the sideline.
"I've been playing all my life,” said Caldwell. “My brothers and them, they told me don't just give up."
"Even before the season started he was like, ‘Coach, I'm going to be coming back, I'm going to play,’” said Daniels. “He has the drive in him to say, ‘Hey, you tell me I can't do something, I'm going to go work my butt off and do what I'm supposed to."
Despite his enlarged heart, Caldwell worked out with the team through the offseason with limitations given to him by doctors, along with physical therapy.
On Friday, he'll visit with a doctor who will give the final say on if he can go back to playing the game he loves.
"Very nervous, I've been trying to sleep at night,” said Caldwell. “Time is going slower and slower the closer it gets, but I'm just hoping for the best. I'm going to be upset if I can't play, but then again I'm going to think about all the things I went through. You know, I'm going to realize that I'm blessed and God has a plan for me."