Kevin Marcus Miller joined a recreational basketball league in Seattle to get more exercise, meet new people, and balance out a life that had become overly focused on work. The 25-year-old was dribbling up the court minutes into his second game when he dropped to one knee.
Then he passed out and fell.
Running the adult basketball league, Tim Kerns had just entered the gym when he heard a ruckus involving a man who was sprawled on the court. Kerns speculated that Miller may have twisted his ankle or perhaps experienced a seizure. He felt for a pulse in Miller's neck and wrist, but found none.
Kerns informed everyone that CPR needed to be started immediately.
The group's reaction was textbook-perfect: Kerns started chest compressions as one man dialed 911. The Bee Gees' song "Stayin' Alive" matched the correct tempo for compressions, 100 to 120 beats per minute. One man squeezed hard and fast in the center of Miller's chest while another assisted in steadying Miller's body and another man helped count the compressions by singing the song.
At that time, ambulances arrived. As doctors set up a defibrillator to try to shock Miller's heart back into rhythm, they instructed Kerns to continue pumping Miller's chest.
The first two shocks were unsuccessful. A third attempt was made. Miller was then brought over to the ambulance by the paramedics.
However, Kerns remarked, "I thought he had passed away." However, the fireman responded, "No, we found a pulse."
Miller was placed into an induced coma at the hospital so that his body could recover from the damage. He woke up three days later, wondering why he was there. He mistook himself for one of the victims after seeing a television broadcast about a shooting spree at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
Miller was informed by the doctor that his heart had stopped while he was playing basketball, and that they were investigating the cause. It was discovered that the issue was an electrical one that had produced an odd rhythm. A subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator was implanted in his side as insurance in case his heart stopped beating again.
He was given the all-clear by the doctors to rejoin his recreational league.
Miller was back on the basketball court when his heart once more stopped. Kerns was present as well, once more. Miller's unexpected heart arrest served as a kind of wake-up call. He made the decision to leave his 9 to 5 job and begin creating the life he envisioned while lying in his hospital bed.
Miller, now 27 years old, stated, "I felt like I had been letting fear stand in the way of my being an entrepreneur and taking the risk." I feared being criticized.
Miller's advice for other survivors, particularly other people of color like him, is to speak up for their own health, consult a therapist, and locate a support network through social media groups.
In order to inspire others to pursue their aspirations in spite of failure or fear, Miller speaks to audiences about his path.