Breaking News
More () »

39-year-old Ben King won the College World Series with the Texas Longhorns. He says COVID-19 was the battle of his life

King remembers praying, “God, please don’t let me die,” in his hospital bed.

GRAPEVINE, Texas — “It’s the most scared I’ve been in my life,” Ben King said in a live post on his wife Kristen’s Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.

He was sitting in a chair in his own bedroom, his face hidden by a mask.

He’d made it home after the fight of his life.

“I don’t remember everything about being in the hospital because my fever was so high, but those first two nights were so long,” he told WFAA on Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after being discharged.

“I remember shivering. They had ice on my head and under my armpits and on my legs to try to break my fever. And I remember just saying, ‘God, please don’t let me die. Please don’t let me die like this.’”

Ben spent five days at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Grapevine battling pneumonia after testing positive for COVID-19.

Credit: WFAA
Ben and Kristen spoke to WFAA less than 24 hours after he was discharged.

Kristen, a former ICU nurse at the same hospital, documented Ben's illness on Facebook.

On March 25, she announced Ben’s diagnosis with a post that read, “I have read and listened to people say this is a hoax, this isn’t serious and they don’t know anyone who has this virus. Well now you do!”

Day by day, she posted live video updates of his ups and downs.

They went to the emergency room once, but were sent home. He had a small patch of his left lung but because of her nursing skills, she decided to try to take care of him at home.

The day after their initial trip to the ER, as her husband's temperature hovered near 104 degrees, Kristen could see his breathing was more labored.

Credit: WFAA
One of many Facebook posts from Kristen King about her husband Ben's battle with the coronavirus.

They returned to the ER, 15 hours after his first visit, and a chest X-ray showed he was getting worse, fast.

“The pneumonia had rapidly progressed to his entire left lower lobe and left middle lobe,” she said. “He couldn’t say more than two words to me. He couldn’t keep his eyes open."

Ben is an athlete. He played minor league baseball and won the College World Series with the Texas Longhorns in 2002. He is perfectly healthy and he says the coronavirus was the worst experience of his life.

While they don't know with certainty where he contracted the virus, they have an idea, and they regret it.

On March 9, Kristen and Ben and their daughters drove to New Orleans for a 5-day cruise.

Credit: Submitted

She jokingly posted on Facebook, “The only thing we plan on catching is the Miller Lite Virus.”

They've taken a lot of heat on social media for the post and for traveling.

“If I could do anything I’d go back and not have gone on that cruise,” Ben said. “I wish I would not have taken my family and put them at risk like that.”

They had heard warnings about the coronavirus when they left for their vacation.

“But there were about 100,000 people in the world with it at that time. That’s about like a Longhorn football game,” Ben said.

Kristen got sick when they got home. She tested positive for the flu and negative for COVID-19.

Just as she began to improve, he got very sick.

RELATED: ‘Am I going to get better from this?’ Fort Worth woman, 33, says she wouldn't wish COVID-19 on anyone

“I’m trying not to beat myself up about it now, but I think it was being downplayed. If you’re making those decisions to go places now though, you’re an idiot, in my opinion," he said.

That’s why they shared their story with WFAA and on Facebook.

“This is serious,” Kristen said in one post. “Don’t leave your house. Don’t take this lightly. This is the worst thing we’ve ever had to experience.”

She’s disappointed that people who’ve seen her posts and who’ve wished Ben a speedy recovery continue to get together with friends.

“My husband is 39, healthy, in shape. This hit him like a ton of bricks. You’re not just putting yourself at risk, you’re putting so many others at risk," she said.

Ben’s body was strong enough to fight and he did not need a ventilator, but Kristen was worried he would.

He’s made a heroic recovery. He credits God, his wife, and the heroes at the hospital.

“They are all putting their lives at risk,” he said. “They just wanted me to be better. That’s all they could think of.”

“I feel blessed to be alive,” he said.

More on WFAA: