Bronny James, LeBron’s son, cleared to play for USC after cardiac issue

Bronny James has been cleared by doctors for a full return to basketball four months after suffering cardiac arrest, and the Southern California freshman is expected to make his collegiate debut soon.

A spokesperson for the James family said in a statement Thursday that the 19-year-old will have a final evaluation with USC staff this week and will resume training next week. He will be able to play in matches “shortly afterwards”.

“I don’t know what soon means,” coach Andy Enfield said Wednesday night after USC’s win over Eastern Washington. “It’s not my decision.”

James did not participate in pre-match warm-ups and only joined his teammates on the bench late in the first half of their 106-78 loss. He joked and smiled with the other reserves and stood at the back of the groups during timeouts.

The Trojans (5-2) will play No. 11 Gonzaga in Las Vegas on Saturday. Their next home game is on December 10 against Long Beach State, a day when the Los Angeles Lakers are off, which would allow LeBron James to see the debut of his eponymous son. The Trojans then went on the road for four games in a row.

USC dropped out of the AP Top 25 poll this week after a two-point loss to Oklahoma last week.

“We didn’t expect half of our team to get hurt the first two and a half to three weeks of the season,” Enfield said, citing the injuries to Boogie Ellis and Kobe Johnson. “Bronny’s been away and we don’t have any guards anymore, we have a very limited number of guards.”

USC Trojans guard Bronny James warms up with the team before their game against the Oklahoma Sooners last week. Photo: Orlando Ramirez/USA Today Sports

While James will be a welcome addition to USC’s rotation, he will need time to acclimate to the game action. He has been on the court twice in recent weeks for pre-game warmups, doing some rebounding and making shots, as well as watching his teammates. He has also been to training.

James need look no further than teammate Vincent Iwuchukwu for inspiration. The 7-foot-1 sophomore suffered cardiac arrest in July 2022. He began limited training last December and made his debut in January. Last season he played fourteen games, averaging 5.4 points and 2.5 rebounds.

Iwuchukwu was the best player off the bench Wednesday night, with 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

James turned out to have a congenital heart defect that was treatable. He suffered cardiac arrest in July while training at the Galen Center.

James was a McDonald’s All-American like his father. The 6-foot-1 guard played at Sierra Canyon School in the Chatsworth neighborhood of Los Angeles and opted to stay close to home in choosing USC.