Grant Wahl Death: 'Why Wasn't There a Defibrillator?'

Colleagues, family mourn sportswriter who died at 49
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2022 10:00 AM CST
Grant Wahl Death: 'Why Wasn't There a Defibrillator?'
A tribute to journalist Grant Wahl is seen on his assigned seat at the World Cup soccer match between England and France at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022.   (AP Photo/Graham Dunbar)

The cause of death for sportswriter Grant Wahl remained unclear as of Sunday morning as those in his orbit processed the news. The 49-year-old collapsed and died early Saturday in Qatar, where he was covering his eighth World Cup.

  • No defibrillator: Wahl collapsed in the press box of Lusail Iconic Stadium while among other journalists. "Why wasn't there a defibrillator?" asks Josh Glancy of the Sunday Times, per People. "That was the question we kept asking each other, as the medics pumped and pumped to no avail," he wrote, referring to futile CPR efforts. "At this billion-dollar state-of-the-art stadium, which has a VIP suite so lavish it includes a bedroom, which will host the World Cup final, why was there no defibrillator to hand? Many minutes passed, and we kept expecting it to come. But it never did."

  • Feeling ill: Wahl visited a medical clinic on Monday in Qatar, he had written on his Substack forum. "My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you," Wahl wrote. "What had been a cold over the last 10 days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort." Wahl also said on a podcast he thought he had bronchitis, per ESPN.
  • LeBron: Before starting his own site and establishing himself as a preeminent soccer writer, Wahl worked for Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports. He famously profiled a young high school phenom named LeBron James in 2002 for SI. The resulting cover, "The Chosen One," is one of the most famous in the magazine's history, per the Sporting News. James himself tweeted an image of it in homage to Wahl after his death. "Even when I moved up in the ranks and became a professional and he kind of went to a different sport and things of that nature over the years, anytime his name would come up, I would always think back to me as a teenager and having Grant in our building down at [St. Vincent-St. Mary High School]," James told reporters. "It's unfortunate to lose someone as great as he was."
  • Brother: Wahl's brother made headlines by suggesting foul play in Wahl's death, perhaps linked to Grant Wahl's wearing of a shirt in support of gay rights. The sportswriter had said he was detained for nearly half an hour by stadium security earlier in the tournament, per the Guardian. Homosexuality is outlawed in Qatar.
(More World Cup stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.