Twitter owner Elon Musk seized on reports that Lebron James Jr. suffered cardiac arrest during a basketball practice to spread conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 vaccine.
“We cannot ascribe everything to the vaccine, but, by the same token, we cannot ascribe nothing,” Musk wrote in response to a tweet about the incident. “Myocarditis is a known side-effect. The only question is whether it is rare or common.”
James Jr. is the son of basketball legend LeBron James. He was practicing with the University of Southern California on Monday when he experienced the cardiac incident. On Tuesday morning, a spokesperson for James family issued a statement informing the family that James Jr., who goes by “Bronny,” had been hospitalized on Monday.
“Yesterday while practicing Bronny James suffered a cardiac arrest. Medical staff was able to treat Bronny and take him to the hospital. He is now in stable condition and no longer in ICU,” the statement read.
“We ask for respect and privacy for the James family and we will update media when there is more information. LeBron and Savannah wish to publicly send their deepest thanks and appreciation to the USC medical and athletic staff for their incredible work and dedication to the safety of their athletes,” the statement added.
Attempts to link cardiac incidents to Covid vaccines wildly misrepresent the actual findings of researchers and medical professionals. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), besides being extremely rare, “the overall risk of myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle – is substantially higher immediately after being infected with COVID-19 than it is in the weeks following vaccination for the coronavirus.”
Yet Musk was not alone in playing up a supposed link between Bronny’s cardiac arrest and Covid vaccines. Fox News host Martha MacCallum repeatedly questioned her guest, Fox Medical Correspondent Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, regarding the validity of a link between vaccinations and increased rates of heart failure while referencing Musk’s tweet in the process.
Nesheiwat stated that James would need to undergo testing to determine the cause of his cardiac arrest.
“People see these situations and it does raise questions about the vaccine because we saw, some of what you talked about, happened in some young individuals after that,” MacCallum said, before proceeding to read out Musk’s tweet. “Is it true that we see more of this than we did prior to the vaccine?” She asked. By that point, Musk’s post had been flagged by Twitter’s Community Notes to include a clarification that the risk of myocarditis was higher post-Covid infection than after receiving a vaccine.
Nesheiwat responded that cardiomyopathy was far more “common in someone like Bronny James,” than myocarditis, and reiterated that testing was required to determine an actual cause. McCallum continued to press Nesheiwat regarding if there had been “more instances of this post-vaccine or not.”
Professional troll Benny Johnson tweeted to his almost two million followers that while he is “not a doctor,” he felt that “it is NOT NORMAL for thousands of healthy teenage athletes to be collapsing — some dying — from cardiac arrest. Now ask: Why?” The claim that thousands of athletes are collapsing suddenly has become a widespread talking point for anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, and it couldn’t be more false.
One America News’ former White House Correspondent Emerald Robinson claimed that she had predicted that an “iceberg is coming for American politics: the COVID vaccines.”
“Today, LeBron James’ son collapsed. 2 days ago, the famous singer Tori Kelly collapsed. 3 days ago, the famous soccer player Shaka Hislop collapsed on live TV. We’ve hit it,” she wrote.
None of the figures named by Robinson have indicated their medical issues were related to a vaccination. Kelly suffered from the effects of a blood clot, and Hislop — who briefly fainted while covering a soccer match — has since called the incident an “awkward” moment.
Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk tweeted a link to an article titled “U.S. heart attack deaths jumped sharply among young adults in 2nd year of pandemic,” along with the caption, “This is my Bronny James tweet. Nothing to see, no questions to ask.”
Kirk was also one of the figures spreading vaccine conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the collapse and near death of Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin in January of this year. Following his recovery, Hamlin publicly stated that the cause of his cardiac arrest was a rare case of Commotio Cordis, a disruption of the heart rhythm following a physical impact or blow.
This article was updated at 4:33 p.m. to include the interview with Fox News.