NORMAL, Ill. — After a rookie year in the NBA, with its infinite travel, U-High graduate Keita Bates-Diop is glad to be home.
“I’d have to write down my hotel room number when we’d get it because I’d forget. We were in hotels so much, I’d forget my number and have to get a new key,” said the Minnesota Timberwolves swingman. “It’s a hard lifestyle.”
While Bates-Diop was playing in NBA arenas across North America this past season, his thoughts were never from his brother Kai. His younger brother collapsed during a U-High basketball practice two years ago and needed to be resuscitated with an automated external defibrillator.
Now the Bates-Diop family is pushing hard to get an AED put in every school across the state. The brothers hosted a two-day youth basketball camp to raise money for the Illinois Heart and Lung Foundation’s AED program this past weekend in the Twin Cities.
A typical AED can cost between $1,500-2,000, according to Kai Bates-Diop.
“It’s a mandate but it is not a funded mandate, so not every school can get one if they don’t have the budget for it,” said Kai Bates-Diop of AED’s. “We are working to target those schools and raise money so those schools have AED’s.
Kai’s basketball career ended after that cardiac incident. He will be a freshman manager with the Butler University men’s basketball program this fall.
“When I was at Ohio State, one of my teammates (experienced a similar emergency),” said Keita Bates-Diop. “At his high school, they didn’t have an AED and a kid passed away. It’s a countrywide thing, we’re trying to raise awareness for it, in general.”
After attending numerous camps in his hometown as a kid, this was the first camp Keita Bates-Diop hosted. The former Ohio State All-American says he would like to do one every summer.
Particularly if his camps help kids improve their basketball games. And especially if his camp can help save lives.
“You don’t want to have to use (an AED) ever,” said Keita Bates-Diop. “But that one time is all you need.”