Make it or break it: the story of Bj Hooper


Connor Fuxa

Hooper high-fives his teammates as he gets announced back into the starting lineup for the first time since having to sit out. His first game back was on Jan. 13 at home vs. Braswell. He went on to drop 13 points in his return.

Connor Fuxa, Hill Top News Director

The last thing senior Brian “Bj” Hooper remembers was running down the court before his vision went black. During a tournament in Miami over winter break, Hooper suffered a seizure on the basketball court.  

“When I stood up, I got really lightheaded. After that, I blacked out, and [my teammates] said they threw the ball at me,” Hooper said. “And then I just fell over, and started shaking. That’s when they ran over and helped me up. Finally, I woke back up and everybody was asking if I was good— I was fine, I was just confused about what had happened.”

Hooper was immediately carried off the court in a stretcher and taken to a hospital. Even with this jarring injury, the game went on and players had to quickly recover from the shock in order to finish out the game.

“Yeah, finishing that game was kind of rough,” senior Sam Knight said. “But I think one thing we did great was everybody kind of got in the huddle after [Bj] got walked off the court and everybody kind of put their mind in the game. I think every time we came out of the huddle on the sideline, everybody was like, ‘For B.J. on three.’ Just making sure that the game was played for him helped us out.”   

Hooper couldn’t get an MRI until he was back in Texas. For nearly a week, he and the team were in the dark about his condition. Thoughts of a potential career-ending injury echoed through the locker room, as everyone was unaware of what the future held.

“It’s just crazy to think about,” Hooper said, reflecting back on the experience. “It just happens so suddenly but you just don’t think of things like this and you just pray it doesn’t happen. If it does you just hope you can make the best out of it and take it as far as I can. Until it ends, you know. Until the basketball stops dribbling.”

Bj Hooper hangs in the air before laying up the ball in the paint as they play Frisco Memorial at home on Dec. 12. This was his last home game before his injury over winter break.
(Connor Fuxa)

Fortunately for Hooper, he was able to return to the court fairly quickly, lacing up his shoes once again less than a month after the seizure. Even with the quick return, witnessing something like this in sports can be life-altering. Times like these make athletes realize their sport may not last forever and their next play could be their last.

“I think mentally, seeing that stuff happening is kind of awakening,” Knight said. “You never know when your last snap or your last minute is in sports. Seeing that happen and then having him come back so soon is a relief. But it’s still a shock [for] us to know that we got to keep our bodies healthy and always focus on recovery. Because at the end of the day, something random like that can happen [to any of us] just like it did to him.”

Since his return, Hooper has already made a huge impact. When he was taken out of action over winter break he sat at 910 career points— only 90 away from being the first ever Rock Hill basketball player to reach the 1000 point mark. He made sure to focus his energy towards this goal when he returned.

“My first goal is going to be to get back and help lead this team deep in the playoffs,” Hooper said. “But I know I am only 90 points away from 1000 points so that would be a cool mark to hit before the season ends.”

He accomplished this feat on Feb. 7 when the varsity boys faced off against Braswell High School. He was able to finish out his historic season, completing the last phase of his amazing comeback story.

After the injury, Hooper thought he may never play again. But by defeating the odds, Hooper turned a potentially career-ending moment into a career-making one.