RICHMOND, Va. - How are you doing?
A simple enough greeting....one many of us use several times a day....and one that Richmond's Grant Golden has heard quite enough over the past year.
"Coach Steve (Thomas) told me he got to the point where he was going to stop asking me," Golden explained.
In Golden's case, the concern has merit.
About a year ago, Golden was playing for the Spiders against Texas Tech at the Robins Center. It was a normal day and a normal game up until a certain point.
"I had closed out on a shot in the corner and when I did that, I had gotten extremely dizzy," Golden recalled. "And when I got dizzy, I collapsed here. I fell down at half court and tried to get back up real quick, fell again. At that point, I had realized something was wrong."
Golden's heart was out of rhythm, a condition for which he had no symptoms and no warning, until he hit the floor.
"I collapsed right here in front of the bench. I was passed out between 3 and 5 seconds and I woke up face down on the floor."
Trainers and paramedics worked on Golden to make sure he was stable. He was taken to St. Mary's hospital where he spent two nights with more questions than answers.
"Me laying on my back looking up in the air," Golden said. "I can see the fans and the looks on their faces and how distressed everyone was. it definitely puts a lot of different thoughts in your head."
"Just total fear," added Richmond head coach Chris Mooney. "I started to look and try to remember if his parents were here."
Golden's father Craig was at the game and had suffered a similar episode when he was younger.
"When he's lying there, he's stretched across 4 or 5 chairs worth of people, but his father is holding his hand like he's a little boy," Mooney said remembering the day.
"It's the kind of thing that will really shake you."
"I was glad that my dad was there," Golden said. "He was definitely shook up at first when it first happened."
Golden underwent a heart ablation procedure four days later. He missed the rest of last season, but has returned this year... fully cleared to resume play and fully intent on making up for lost time.
"When you have a traumatic experience like that, especially at my age, you think about it all the time, but you try to stick it in the back of your head where it doesn't really bother you."
This incident did not happen in an opponent's gym. It happened at the Robins Center, where Golden now practices and plays. He walks by the spot where he collapsed several times each day.
"What I try to do is turn it into a positive thing," Golden said. "Now walking past that spot everyday in practice, I think it's just going to be a reminder that I've come a long way. I'm back now."
"His ability to cope with it and deal with it and attack it in a sense, significantly helped everybody because he was there for us," Mooney added.
"I'm glad [he's] back on the floor," said Spiders guard De'Monte Buckingham, who is also Golden's roommate. "This is going to be a big season for [him]. I always tell him everytime you get it, just attack and be the players I know you can be because I feel this is going to be a big year for him."
"God has a plan for everyone," Golden said. "That was his plan for me. Do I know the reason why? No."
"Being thankful that I'm back where I am today. I'm going to take every practice, every game and just be thankful for the opportunity to be out there with my teammates."
The Spiders have gotten off to something of a rough start this year, but in their game against Jacksonville State, Golden became just the third player in the past 15 years to lead the Spiders in points, rebounds, blocks and assists in the same game.
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