Florida Gators men’s basketball star Keyontae Johnson, who collapsed on the court during a game Saturday, was the subject of letters from second-grade students at an elementary school in Florida, who sent messages of well wishes for his recovery. Johnson was put into a medically induced coma but is currently in stable condition and breathing on his own.
Kaitlyn Day, a teacher at Meadowbrook Elementary in Gainesville, Florida, was ready to teach class on Monday when the topic of Johnson’s health came up.
“We were talking about Florida sports in my class and one of my students was confused why the football players [at Florida’s game vs. LSU this past weekend] were wearing a different number and why we took a moment of silence,” Day told ESPN. “We then talked about it and one of my students wanted to write to Keyontae so I let them.”
University of Florida sports are often a hot topic in the classroom, as many of the students are fans. Day has bachelor’s and masters degrees from Florida and is still enrolled at the University working on her doctorate.
After the letters were completed, Day tweeted images of the students’ efforts on Wednesday.
— Kaitlyn (@kaitlynday03) December 16, 2020
“I have never watched a game before [but] I want you to get better so I can start watching the Gators win, [Love] Parker,” one student wrote.
“You are the best player I could ever know,” wrote another, with a drawing of a smiling Johnson holding a basketball with fans yelling “he’s the best!” and “look at him!”
For their part, the Florida Gators responded to Day’s tweet, saying they would make sure Johnson saw the letters.
Day says she is thrilled with what the students came up with.
“I could not be more proud of them,” Day said. “They took very vague instructions and turned this into something meaningful to them. Their work is genuine and sentimental to them and they were so excited to put a smile on someone’s face. The students truly learned they’re allowed to care for someone and make someone’s day even without knowing them.”
Johnson has received an outpouring of well wishes and support on social media. The Gators’ leading scorer has shown progress in recovery and is awake, sitting up and talking with his doctors and teammates, according to the University of Florida. The Gators have decided to postpone upcoming games, including Dec. 19 against Florida Atlantic, Dec. 20 vs Florida A&M and Dec. 22 facing James Madison.