The White Tigers hosted San Marcos High Tech High in a tournament game on Dec. 8, 2010, Wes Schultz , a sophomore, had been competing with another player for playing time. Escondido Charter coach Keith Jackson had told both players that whomever demonstrated better defensive skills would play the most.
“Jordan demonstrated better defense,” Jackson said. “So he would have been playing a lot for us this year.”
Although Jordan didn’t start the game, he was on the floor late in the first quarter when Escondido Charter put a little run together, forcing High Tech to call a timeout.
Said Jackson: “He (Jordan) was flowing.”
Lori Schultz was sitting in the stands with Jodi Rea, the mother of a player on the opposing team. They got to know each other when Jordan and Rea’s son, Andy, played together on a soccer team a few years earlier.
After the buzzer signaled the timeout, Rea, a registered nurse, noticed one of the players appear to trip and fall as he joined the others filing back to their benches.
“She said, ‘Ooh, that kid just went down,’” Lori Schultz recalled. “And I looked, and it took me a few seconds to register that it was Jordan. I just figured he’d twisted his knee, because he was moving around a little bit.”
In the span of mere seconds, less time than it takes for players to leave the court and sit on the bench for a timeout, everything changed.
Over the next several minutes Jordan’s life hung in the balance. Time was precious.
Jackson saw the fall, and also thought it was a trip. But the former Marine, who took part in Desert Storm, observed that Jordan remained face down. Jackson initially observed that Jordan wasn’t moving, and turned him over. Then Jackson noticed small movements.
It looked, Jackson said, like Jordan was having a seizure. His bladder had emptied and his eyes were rolling back in his head. His Marine training dictated the next move. Jackson took out his phone and called 9-1-1.
Rea got out to Jordan and almost immediately directed Lori Schultz to call 9-1-1, too.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s actually something bad happening,” Lori Schultz said. “That he’s not just going to jump up. So it took a few seconds to realize that, hey, this is actually happening.”
After beginning compressions, Rea asked if anybody else knew CPR. Teammate Luke Portillo, a friend who had played video games with Jordan, stepped forward.
“For the previous couple months I was taking a program here at Charter called fire technology,” Portillo said. “They just taught me, like the month before that, how to give CPR. And when it all happened, I saw a lady trying to give him CPR … and I ran over there.”
Portillo, whose parents had both been combat medics, took over the compressions while Rea concentrated on Jordan’s pulse. Portillo’s mom, Angie, had come down and was monitoring Jordan’s pulse, which was weak.
Jordan was in cardiac arrest. To this day, the Schultzes don’t know what caused it.
“I’ve been teaching and coaching for 45 different years,” Escondido Charter executive director Denny Snyder said. “That was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Five minutes, 15 seconds after Lori Schultz placed the call to 9-1-1, the paramedics arrived. She said they are trained to keep the call open until they make visual contact, then hang up.
Jackson said Jordan’s pulse stopped three times as he lay on the court.
The paramedics hit him twice with a defibrillator, then transported him to Palomar Hospital. Later that night, Jordan was taken by helicopter to Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego.
Jackson said that he talked to a paramedic that night who said that the work of the people on the scene might have saved Jordan’s life, and at the least, took action that would hasten his recovery.
“Everybody that came in and was there kept their poise,” Snyder said.
Jordan spent two days in a coma. Then he woke up.
“I didn’t know what day it was,” Jordan said. “I didn’t know where I was, didn’t know what was going on. I had no idea what happened. It’s a weird feeling. I woke up and they rushed to my bed, like, ‘You’re alive.’ ”
Jordan still has no recollection of the events of that day or the day before. The last thing he remembers was going to the game two nights earlier.
Escondido Charter honored him as its most inspirational player last Thursday. In presenting Jordan for the award, Jackson alluded to his “medical issue,” but said little else about the events of Dec. 8.
“If you don’t think that’s inspirational, you don’t know what inspiration is,” Jackson said. Then he introduced Jordan. The mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers seated around cafeteria tables rose for a standing ovation.
Jordan eventually recovered enough to play in the team’s final game, missing two shots but grabbing a rebound in 6 minutes of action. And he is very determined to rejoin the team next year, when he is a junior.
His recovery was remarkably quick given the nature of his condition. Jordan was released from the hospital after two weeks, though he still had trouble with simple tasks such as walking from his bedroom to the bathroom, at that point. It was nearly two months before he returned to school.
Even now, Jordan notices that his handwriting is still a little sloppy. But his grip is strong when he shakes hands and he speaks of his ordeal in a clear, steady voice.
He was asked if he thought about basketball while he was laid up.
“The whole time,” he answered.
Wes Schultz laughed.
“That was one of the first things we did is go out (to the backyard basketball court),” he said. “… Jordan wanted to play.”
Portillo said that his friend doesn’t talk about the incident much. But not too long ago, while they were sitting in the bleachers watching another game, the topic came up.
“He was like, ‘Dude, I owe you my life,’ ” Portillo said. “I was like, ‘Man, you don’t owe me anything. I’m just glad you’re here.’ We just left it at that.”