ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—The Naval Academy football player who collapsed during a practice earlier this week has died.
Derek Valcourt has more on the tragic loss of midshipman Will McKamey.
McKamey had been in a coma at Shock Trauma for several days. But despite best efforts of doctors, his young life was cut short at just 19 years old.
There’s somberness at the Naval Academy campus on news of the death of midshipman McKamey.
The freshman running back from Knoxville, Tenn. was practicing at the Navy field Saturday when he collapsed suddenly and was airlifted to Shock Trauma, where he underwent surgery to relieve pressure on the brain.
His family and his Naval Academy teammates kept vigil, praying at his hospital bedside for a miraculous recovery that never came.
“And that’s emblematic of what Will meant to this community, to this school,” said Cdr. John Schofield, U.S. Naval Academy. “He was a very special young man, and he was loved by his teammates and his classmates, and the brigade and the faculty all over are heartbroken at this time.”
This wasn’t the first time McKamey collapsed on the field. He was hospitalized with brain injury in 2012 after taking a hard hit, but after multiple brain scans doctors cleared him to continue playing football.
It’s an ordeal he spoke to a Tennessee newspaper about as he prepared to head to Annapolis.
“When I was in the hospital that was one of the scariest things, so just to be blessed with the ability to come back and play and just to recover so quickly is great,” McKamey said in the 2013 interview.
This time family members say they don’t know why he collapsed. Coaches reviewed practice video and say he did not sustain any bad hits or extreme contact.
“When you’re dealing with something like this it’s so hard to understand,” said Rusty Bradley, rival high school coach.
Coaches, friends and former high school classmates at his alma mater, Grace Christian Academy, are now praying as they remember the young man who’d become an inspiration.
“The outcry has been truly amazing, but it just kind of lives up to the kind of person that Will was,” said Rob Hammond, Grace Christian headmaster.
McKamey’s family says they take comfort knowing he is running the football on the fields of heaven, and they are thankful for the outpouring of sympathy and support from around the country.
The Naval Academy says funeral arrangements and tributes to McKamey are pending.
Several Naval Academy football practices this week have been canceled as a result of McKamey’s death. Counseling has been made available to midshipmen.
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