Basketball player uses CPR to save referee at minor league game

·3 min read

Myles Copeland's instincts snapped into action on the court of a minor league basketball game Saturday night in Jamestown, New York. He didn't hit a last-second shot or force a turnover, though.

Copeland, who is also a Toledo-based firefighter, helped save the life of a referee who collapsed during a game between Copeland's Toledo Glass City and the Jamestown Jackals of The Basketball League.

"It was kind of instinctual. It surprised me how quick I was able to switch into that mode, especially being in a basketball game," Copeland told ESPN on Wednesday. "But with being a firefighter, when you're off the job, you're really not off the job. You still got to keep an eye out for the community and what's going on around you."

When referee John Sculli suddenly fell to the floor in the middle of the game, Copeland, 25, ran over and started administering CPR after he said he didn't feel a pulse or breathing. Copeland's actions helped save Sculli before first responders arrived. Sculli was awake and alert by the time he was taken to a nearby hospital and he was eventually transferred to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Erie, Pennsylvania.

"There has been not one EMT, one ED doctor that has not said it is a miracle that he is alive today," Donna Metz, Sculli's fiance, told WTOL 11. "[John] said today, 'Myles is his hero.' There is such a deep knowledge that without Myles, that I wouldn't still have him."

Sculli, who Metz said has been officiating sports for almost 40 years, has an undisclosed heart condition and is set to have surgery this week.

"A guy like this deserves to be celebrated," The Basketball League president David Magley told ESPN. "Not just because he saved his life but the humility with which he carried himself afterwards. He's the kind of person that's our hero because he stepped up when he needed to and he won't take any of the credit himself. It was just divine timing."

Copeland, who is in his first year with the league after playing at D-III Trine University in Indiana, doesn't want to be referred to as a hero because he said what he did just feels like a normal day as a firefighter.

"Ever since then, people just, like, look at me. They just have a different feeling about me, like you're a hero," Copeland told ESPN. "It's been said to me so much, but still it's hard to have that click in my mind because I feel like I was just doing another deed, another thing that I was supposed to do. I didn't feel like I went out of my way to do anything special. It's just what I was put here to do. God was able to work through me. I feel like other people see me differently as a hero, but I don't see myself any different."

More good news for Copeland: Toledo ended up beating Jamestown in that game, 96-93, and another win the next day helped Glass City advance to the Midwest Conference Finals against the Kokomo BobKats.

A referee was saved by a player at a minor league basketball game. (Getty Images)
A referee was saved by a player at a minor league basketball game. (Getty Images)
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