NEW YORK– The NBA today announced San Antonio Spurs forward Keita Bates-Diop as the NBA Cares Community Assist Award winner for the month of February in recognition of his ongoing efforts around advocating and raising awareness on the importance of CPR training and automated external defibrillator (AED) accessibility to help prevent cardiac arrest incidents. February is also American Heart Month and holds special meaning to Bates-Diop. In 2017, Bates-Diop’s younger brother, Kai, suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed during practice with his high school basketball team. A certified athletic trainer present at the scene performed CPR on Kai helping to save his life. Since Kai’s cardiac arrest in 2017, Bates-Diop has been passionate about sharing the importance of CPR and AED training with others, and recently hosted events to help teach those life-saving skills to people in San Antonio. Each month of the regular season, the award recognizes a player who best demonstrates the passion that the league and NBA players share for giving back to their communities.
On February 2, Bates-Diop and Methodist Healthcare System’s certified cardiac trainers hosted a CPR and AED training session for student athletes and JROTC members at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio. The topic of sudden cardiac arrest hits close to home for the tight-knit Central Catholic community. In 2008, a student athlete in their senior year at the school passed away from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – a thickening of the heart muscle and a leading cause of sudden cardiac death among youth athletes. Bates-Diop started the session by sharing Kai’s story with the more than 75 students in attendance. As Bates-Diop recounted the frightful day, the group of students were fully engaged and understood that Kai’s story could be about any high school athlete, and took that focus into the CPR and AED training portion of the session. For the training session, Methodist Healthcare designed a program tailored for the school and provided hands-only CPR and AED training equipment. Additionally, Living for Zachary and American Heart Association donated resources and shared stories of young people whose lives were saved from CPR and AED’s. Bates Diop’s mother, Wilma Bates, also flew into San Antonio to take part in the event to share Kai’s story and how it ignited a passion in their family to save lives through advocacy of CPR and AED training. In honor of Kai and to support Bates-Diop’s passion for CPR and AED training, Spurs Sports & Entertainment donated a total of five AEDs in collaboration with Living for Zachary to three community organizations; Roy Maas, Great Hearts Texas and Liberty Hills Soccer Organization. Living for Zachary places AEDs throughout Texas to make defibrillation readily available in the community and ensure a three-minute drop to shock response time, increasing survival rate to more than 70%.
Sparked by Bates Diop’s desire to educate others on CPR and AED training, the San Antonio Spurs and Methodist Healthcare also hosted a CPR training activation on the concourse during the Feb. 1 Kings-Spurs game, where 700 fans learned hands-only CPR prior to and throughout the game.
“It’s an honor to receive the Community Assist Award, especially for a cause that is so close to my family.” said Bates-Diop. “CPR training and AED accessibility saved my brother’s life and any awareness we can raise about responding to cardiac arrest quickly is vital. I’m grateful to the NBA for the support and attention they’re bringing to this training so that more lives can be saved.”
Bates-Diop will be recognized during an on-court ceremony before the Spurs’ home contest against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, Mar. 29 at 8 p.m. ET. Spurs Sports & Entertainment Chief Impact Officer, Dr. Kara Allen, and Spurs legend David Robinson will present him with the award. The NBA will donate $10,000 to Living for Zachary – a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise awareness and prevent sudden cardiac arrest in youth.
The NBA Cares Community Assist Award honors the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson, who improved the community piece by piece. To learn more, please visit https://communityassist.nba.com/.