Bronny James fully cleared to return to USC basketball 5 months after cardiac arrest; LeBron vows to attend 1st game

'Family over everything.' LeBron James says he will be at Bronny's first game regardless if Lakers are playing on same day

Bronny James, the son of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, has been cleared to fully return to basketball at USC, five months after he went into cardiac arrest during a routine workout.

“Bronny James is now cleared by his doctors for a full return to basketball," the James family wrote in a statement. "Bronny will have a final evaluation with USC staff this week, resume practice next week, and return to games soon after. The James family would like to express their gratitude to the incredible medical team, the entire USC community, and especially the countless friends, family, and fans for their love and support. Fight On!”

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 29: USC Trojans guard Bronny James (6) looks on from the bench during the college basketball game between the Eastern Washington Eagles and the USC Trojans on November 29, 2023 at Galen Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
USC guard Bronny James has been fully cleared to return to basketball after going into cardiac arrest in July. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

James, 19, has been ramping up basketball activities on his own for several months, all in consultation with USC and his doctors. He's been going to school, but has not been participating in team practice. He took a big step toward rejoining the team a few days before Thanksgiving, when he warmed up with his teammates prior to their win against Brown on Nov. 19.

LeBron James told reporters Thursday after the Lakers' 133-110 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder he would attend Bronny's first game, even if the Lakers are playing.

The Lakers host the Houston Rockets on Saturday while USC plays Gonzaga in Las Vegas on the same day. The two teams next overlap on Dec. 28. The Lakers could play in the NBA in-season tournament championship game in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, the day before USC hosts Long Beach State, as the one notable close call in December.

Bronny James collapsed during a routine workout at USC's Galen Center on July 24. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and stabilized. He was released from the ICU the next day, and the family announced James had gone into cardiac arrest. He was diagnosed with a significant-yet-treatable congenital heart defect and underwent surgery, and he has been recovering ever since.

It wasn't immediately certain after the cardiac arrest whether James would ever play high-level basketball again. But reports from the James family remained positive, especially after his congenital heart defect was diagnosed and treated. His head coach at USC, Andy Enfield, was also positive about James' progress, and was excited to get him back on the team — but only when he was completely healthy and cleared by doctors.

That time has finally come. James is on track to play college basketball. We don't know when he'll will make his NCAA debut, but no matter when it happens, it will have been worth the wait.