J. Webb Horton returns to FGCU basketball broadcast after health scare

Author: Zach Oliveri
Published: Updated:

With his signature calls, J. Webb Horton brings the fun to the Florida Gulf Coast men’s basketball broadcast. There’s no better place for the self-proclaimed basketball junkie to be then on the baseline, with the headset on and saying his catchphrase “sugar the bigs.”

Those are moments he doesn’t take for granted.

“I’m just happy I’m back,” Horton said. “There was times they thought I’d never do it again.”

That’s because last season, J. Webb was sidelined.

“They said your heart is only pumping at 14 percent,” Horton recalled. “You go I’m not a math major but that doesn’t sound pretty good.”

Horton was diagnosed with chronic heart failure. During his recovery from surgery to repair his leaking heart valve, Horton had complications that landed him in the ICU for three weeks after open heart surgery.

He doesn’t remember that time, but he does recall the lowest point of his life.

“When I was down to 143 pounds and you’re in a hospital bed,” Horton explained. “You know everything needs to be done for you. Get tubes coming out of you. Not a very good visual.”

“It was scary for all of us because we didn’t know what the future looked like for J. Webb short term or long term,” FGCU basketball play-by-play broadcaster Tom James said.

What fueled J. Webb to get better was the support from his biggest fans.

“When you get down, you’re saying if all these people are cheering for you, Horton said. “how the hell can you quit?”

With that mindset, J. Webb pulled off his own come from behind win. He returned to the broadcast table inside Alico Arena in November.

That night, Tom James had a promise to keep.

“I told J. Webb back in some darker times early on in his struggles I said J. Webb, I don’t know what the future holds really it’s about your health right now,” James detailed. “But I told him I said if you were to ever make it back on the air, I’m going to reach over and kiss you on your big bald head live on TV! And I did it!”

“Jim Valvano said it do something you love every day and tell people you don’t tell,” Horton said. “You got to tell people you love em. Cause you never know when you’ll be taken out of here.”

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