Heart condition ends Toledo recruit's career

July, 29, 2011
7/29/11
1:18
PM ET
Toledo freshman Justin Moss is a 6-foot-6, 240-pound forward from Michigan with talent. After signing a national letter of intent, he was described by coach Tod Kowalczyk as "a power player who's an unbelievably explosive athlete."

So it must have been incredibly bittersweet for Kowalczyk to learn that one of his top recruits will never play a minute for the Rockets but hopefully at least be able to live a long and productive life.

According to the Toledo Blade, after a routine physical exam raised questions, Moss was eventually diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart condition known to cause sudden death in young athletes.
"As I told Justin's mother, we can look at this as good news that our tremendous sports medicine team at the University of Toledo caught this, and Justin no longer will be put in extreme danger," Kowalczyk said. "I'd also like to thank our medical staff for their diligence and for answering all of the questions Justin and his family had on this life-threatening disease."

Moss won't be prohibited from performing everyday activities, but anything more than that could put him at significant risk. He'll also remain on scholarship at UT and be afforded the opportunity to earn his college degree.

"We left there with the message that Justin can lead a very normal, healthy life -- outside of competitive, high-intensity exercise. That was his takeaway," Jones said. "He's a great kid, and that's why I feel so bad for him. But I also feel great because we prevented something tragic."

As a college career was ended before it began, a life might have been saved. It's sad while also cause for a sigh of relief. Toledo will miss Moss, especially considering it was already down three scholarships due to Academic Progress Rate penalties, but much more importantly, the school was able to protect one of its student-athletes.

The timing of it isn't fair. Moss won't get to experience the joy of stepping onto the court for his first game at Toledo. Kowalczyk, in his second season with the Rockets, is missing yet another piece of the puzzle coming off a four-win campaign.

Moss might never play again, but he's blessed to have learned he wouldn't be able to before something really went wrong.

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