Myles Copeland’s instincts kicked in on the court at a minor league basketball game in Jamestown, New York on Saturday night. However, he didn’t hit a last-second shot or force a turnover.
Copeland, who is also a Toledo-based firefighter, helped save the life of a referee who collapsed during a game between Copeland’s Toledo Glass City and the Basketball League’s Jamestown Jackals.
“It was kind of instinctive. It surprised me how quickly I could switch into this mode, especially at a basketball game,” Copeland told ESPN on Wednesday. “But as a firefighter, if you’re unemployed, you’re not really unemployed. You still have to keep an eye on the community and what’s going on around you.”
When referee John Sculli suddenly fell to the ground mid-game, Copeland, 25, ran over and began CPR after saying he couldn’t feel a pulse or breathing. Copeland’s actions helped save Sculli before first responders arrived. Sculli was awake and alert when he was rushed to a nearby hospital and eventually transferred to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Erie, Pennsylvania.
“There wasn’t an ER doctor, not an ED doctor who didn’t say it’s a miracle he’s alive today,” Donna Metz, Sculli’s fiancé, told WTOL 11. “[John] said today: ‘Myles is his hero.’ There is such a deep knowing that I wouldn’t have it without Myles.”
Sculli, who Metz says has been playing sports for nearly 40 years, has an undisclosed heart condition and is scheduled for surgery this week.
“A guy like this deserves to be celebrated,” Basketball League President David Magley told ESPN. “Not only because he saved his life, but also because of the humility with which he acted afterwards. He’s the kind of person our hero is because he stood up when needed and he won’t take any of the credit himself. It was just divine timing.”
Copeland, who is in his freshman year in the league after playing at D-III Trine University in Indiana, doesn’t want to be called a hero because he said what he did just felt like a normal one day as a firefighter feels like.
“Since then, people have just looked at me. You just make me feel different, like you’re a hero,” Copeland told ESPN. “I’ve been told so much but it’s still hard to have that clicking in my head because I feel like I’m just doing another act, another thing I should be doing. I didn’t feel like I ran out of my way to do anything special. That’s what I was brought here for. God could work through me. I feel like other people see me differently as a hero, but I don’t see myself any differently.”
More good news for Copeland: Toledo defeated Jamestown 96-93 in that game, and another win the next day saw Glass City advance to the Midwest Conference Finals against the Kokomo BobKats.