Florida senior forward Keyontae Johnson, who had not played in a game since collapsing on the court on Dec. 12, 2020, made an emotional return to the starting lineup on Saturday as the Gators welcomed in Kentucky for Senior Day at the O'Connell Center. In what was his last chance to see the floor in front of Florida's home crowd before the end of his eligibility, coach Mike White tabbed Johnson as an honorary starter, and he suited up and fielded the opening tip before briefly embracing the moment and tossing the ball back to the official.
Johnson exchanged pleasantries with everyone as he made his way back to the bench. The emotional scene ended as he kissed the Gators logo at midcourt, dapped up Kentucky coach John Calipari and gave a nice nod to the Gators faithful for the warm ovation.
Heart and soul of the Gators. 🧡💙@Keyontae pic.twitter.com/srU0cEELxq— Florida Gators Men’s Basketball (@GatorsMBK) March 5, 2022
Johnson's scary collapse against Florida State more than a year ago led to him being hospitalized and later diagnosed with a heart condition that effectively ended his college career. Despite that, he has stuck around the program and been helpful in other ways, even acting as an assistant coach at times to assist with White and his staff.