March Madness Ref Bert Smith’s Collapse Saved His Life, Blood Clot Found In Lung

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Bert Smith is thankful to still have his life, even though he experienced one of the scariest moments to ever happen to him.

Smith was the referee who collapsed during Gonzaga’s matchup against USC in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. That moment turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Bert Smith told the Indianapolis Star the fall might have saved his life because medical professionals found a blood clot in his lung.

Early in the West Region final between Gonzaga and USC at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Smith hit the floor and stayed down for several minutes as medical personnel and other staffers rushed toward him. The 56-year-old regained consciousness, and he was alert as he was carried off the floor on a stretcher.

“You don’t know where that clot was going next,” Smith told the Star’s Gregg Doyel.

He was released after two days in the hospital.

“It puts in perspective the value of each day, because we all go through our lives — we’re all guilty of it — and we just live, right?” Smith told the publication. “But do we say ‘I love you’ enough? Do we give an extra hug enough? Do we do the things with our family and friends that have value to them? When you live something like I did, it hits you square in the eyes that you really have to value each day.”

Smith has been an NCAA Division I official since 1993.