Sunday, March 3, 2024

17-Year-Old Alabama Basketball Star Collapses, Dies During Practice

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One of the top high school point guards in the country has died of a sudden cardiac event while playing basketball. 

Pinson Valley High School senior Caleb White, 17, died Thursday after collapsing on the court. Lifesaving efforts were started at the school, and he was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to AL.com. 

The high school is located in Pinson, Alabama. 

White was a first-team all-state selection this past season for Pinson Valley and a finalist for the ASWA Class 6A Player of the Year. He was the No. 3 basketball player in the state and No. 43 in the country, according to ESPN. 

Last season, White averaged 20.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, according to MaxPreps. 

In a Facebook post on Friday, White’s grandfather, George Varnadoe, Jr. wrote about his grandson’s passing, saying, “24 hours ago, my grandson, Caleb White collapsed on the basketball court, went into cardiac arrest and all attempts to resuscitate him failed.” 

“This was similar to the illness Lebron James’ son experienced as he was working out. Our family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support but still in disbelief,” he said.

“Our whole family was really looking forward to his upcoming senior season and afterwards, playing for a D-1 school and then perhaps the NBA. But…..it wasn’t meant to be,” White’s grandfather continued. 

“You see, everything that happens, happens on time, because God wouldn’t allow it to happen, if it wasn’t on time. And so it was with Caleb. We all have an appointment with God, one that you can’t reschedule. So we must stay ready, because you won’t have time to get ready. Please continue to pray for my family,” Varnadoe concluded. 

The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) also announced White’s passing in a statement. 
 
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Caleb’s family, his classmates and basketball team and extended school family,” AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs said. “He was an outstanding student-athlete who played in the North-South All-Star Basketball Game last month. He was an outstanding student-athlete and role model.”  

“Our heartfelt condolences also go out to the administration and faculty at Pinson Valley… pray they find the strength needed during this time of grief,” Briggs said.

Pinson Valley principal Michael Turner said counseling would be available to students and staff in the coming days. The high school is holding a candlelight memorial for White at 6:00 pm on Monday, Aug. 14.

Pinson Mayor Joe Cochran, who knew White personally, posted his condolences to Facebook. 

“Heartbroken. No words can be gathered to provide comfort to a family and community experiencing the loss of young life,” he wrote. 

“Please lift Caleb’s family and friends along with the entire PVHS community in prayer for the hours, weeks, months and years ahead.  I was honored to know Caleb personally and loved the spirit he carried.  Life is fleeting, enjoy every day as the treasure it is, I know Caleb did.”

White is the latest in a spate of young athletes to collapse and die during practice or a game over the last few years.  

Last week a 19-year-old football player at Liberty University named Tajh Boyd collapsed and died.

READ ‘Larger Than Life’: Liberty University Football Player Tajh Boyd Passes Away at 19

And as CBN News reported last month, Bronny James, son of NBA superstar LeBron James, was hospitalized after going into cardiac arrest while participating in a USC Trojans basketball practice. He survived and was discharged from the hospital a few days later. 

READ 19-Yr-Old Mid-America Nazarene Athlete Dies Suddenly, Community Honors His Legacy

Last month, Long Island high school football player Robert Bush went into cardiac arrest just four minutes after taking the field for summer workout drills, according to the New York Post.

And in February, a 12-year-old boy collapsed and died during a game of no-contact football, the outlet reported. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes. “Estimates vary, but some reports suggest that about 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 80,000 young athletes die of sudden cardiac death each year. For comparison, the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest in the general population is about 1 in 1,000 people yearly,” the clinic said. 

“Sudden cardiac death is often caused by faulty electrical signaling in the heart,” the clinic reported. “A very fast heartbeat causes the lower heart chambers (ventricles) to quiver uselessly instead of pumping blood. This irregular heart rhythm is called ventricular fibrillation. Any condition that strains the heart or damages heart tissue can increase the risk of sudden death.”

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