James Hampton, a top high school basketball player, died Saturday after collapsing midway through a game.
The 17-year-old played for Team United, an elite team from Charlotte, North Carolina, and was competing in a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League game in Hampton, Virginia when he died.
Hampton ran down the court and said to a referee, “Hey, ref,” before collapsing, Team United’s director, Jacoby Davis, said.
“He just fell down on the floor,” Davis told The Charlotte Observer. “He had seizures a year ago — and I remember telling me that, ‘I saw his eyes rolling back in his head.’ I ran on the court thinking he was having a seizure. A trainer came over and said he didn’t know what was wrong. Another trainer checked his pulse. He said he didn’t have a pulse. It got crazy after that.”
Medical responders ran onto the court and gave Hampton chest compressions before taking him away by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“It’s hard to even explain,” Davis said. “To have a kid in your program with so much life — that’s just the kind of kid he was. He was always happy. For something like this to happen, I can’t even explain it. And to have to talk to a parent not even in town and tell him that his son has died, well, that’s more devastating.”
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The team decided to stay and play the rest of the tournament in Hampton’s honor and decisively won their game on Sunday. Chris Carrawell, Duke University’s assistant coach and father to Caleb Stone-Carrawell, one of Hampton’s teammates, said it was a difficult weekend for the group.
“You could tell at the beginning, they were probably a little emotional, in shock, so to speak,” Carrawell told the Daily Press. “Which is, wow, you’re 16, 17-years-old, and you go through what you saw on the court less than 24 hours ago. For them to shake it off and respond and come away with a big win: You can already tell, is … looking out for them.”
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