‘I Was A Healthy, Young Athlete’: 23-Year-Old Rugby Player Suffers Stroke Due To COVID Complications

Alex Corey Contributor
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A 23-year-old rugby player is warning young people to take COVID-19 seriously after he suffered a stroke from contracting the virus.

Riley Behrens told TODAY before Thanksgiving in addition to quarantining, he took a precautionary COVID test and received a positive result, despite having no symptoms. Behrens, who is from Tempe, Ariz., said his mild symptoms eventually turned into a stroke a few days later. (RELATED: School District Reportedly Confirms First Teenage COVID-19 Death In Wisconsin)

“I had chest pain and shortness of breath, which, at that point, I didn’t really think was too bad,” he told TODAY. “I woke up with (my) left side weakened. So, my whole left side — like from my eye being spotty down to I couldn’t stand on one leg because of the weakness, and my grip strength decreased.”

Behrens shared his experience on Twitter days after Thanksgiving and he has been advising others to take the virus seriously.

During a CNN interview, he said that a friend who had been staying with him had recently attended a wedding, and that’s how he believes he became exposed to the virus.

“I thought if I get sick, if I test positive, I’m just going to have a little bit of trouble, but I’ll be OK,” he said during the interview. “And I was not OK.”

“I would just say it’s like time to start taking this a lot more seriously than a lot of people have,” he added. “Wear your mask and social distance.”

Behrens said in the interview he felt inspired to share his story, after friends some of his friends weren’t following COVID-19 guidelines. He wanted to illustrate that someone like him—a perfectly healthy rugby player—could face life-threatening side effects from the virus.

He told CNN that while he has a long road ahead, doctors say he’s expected to fully recover.