Keona Peat is grateful for every day he gets up in the morning, let alone playing football.
The Tempe Corona del Sol senior defensive lineman/offensive lineman nearly died in June 2021 after undergoing surgery for a broken leg. He fractured his tibia playing basketball. Peat had an allergic reaction to medication he was given, he said.
“It was almost fatal,” Peat said. “I coded about three times in the hospital. I had a month stay in the hospital.”
Because of the reaction to medication, Peat could not have the leg surgery done as scheduled. That came later. There were complications. He had to be intubated in ICU for three days. An injury to his vocal chord while intubated caused temporary paralysis to his vocal chord. He said he also sustained nerve damage in his left arm. For a while, he was unable to lift his arm.
“I finally got all of my feeling,” Peat said, raising his arm during Saturday’s Tempe Union High School District Football Media Day, held for the six schools at Valle Luna Mexican Restaurant in Chandler.
Peat, who is 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, can reflect on that time now knowing how much he had taken for granted. The team put on helmets for the first time Monday for the start of official football practice for the Arizona Interscholastic Association season that begins Sept. 2. Peat will relish every opportunity.
Not just on the field, but in life.
He has had great support not just from teammates and coaches, but from his large, well-connected family that includes New Orleans Saints offensive lineman Andrus Peat and 6-foot-8 Gilbert Perry sophomore Koa Peat, who this summer won a gold medal playing on USA U17 basketball team in Spain.
“We all just help each other,” Keona said. “Anything we need. Any questions regarding the sport, we’re all tight.”
He salvaged the last three games of his junior football season. But the offseason work he has put in he believes will help him have the breakout senior season to get back on the college football recruiters’ radar and land a scholarship.
He wants to play college football. He said nothing is holding him back.
“It’s kind of a statement that I can be back,” Peat said. “I’m not out.”
Cassius Peat, a former football and basketball standout at Corona del Sol, where he won four state championship rings in hoops, has been a big mentor in Keona’s life.
He said Keona’s medical ordeal was “a scary time for our family.”
“We were able to rally around him and show love and support as our family has for each other,” said Cassius, a 2015 Corona del Sol graduate, who is in his first year as a head football coach of Heritage Academy Gateway’s revived program in Queen Creek, which plays in the Canyon Athletic Association. “We are so proud of his resilience and his comeback story.
“He is a great kid and I wish him the best of luck his senior year in football.”
Keona said that Andrus has helped him in his motivation to keep playing football with lofty goals in mind.
“Him in the NFL, he goes through his injuries that puts him out for a while,” Keona said. “He said you just have to be patient and get yourself healthy, and hopefully everything will work out.”
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