High School Basketball Player Dies After Big Win
March 5, 2011
Wes Leonard scored the game-winning basket to complete his team's undefeated season, but collapsed on the court soon after.
BY BARBARA MANINGAT AND JENNIFER MECKLES
Anchor: Megan Murphy
It's a heartbreaking story -- and one that still has people scratching their heads. A highschool basketball star, just 16 years old, scores the game-winning shot to end the perfect season -- then collapses on the court... and dies.
16-year-old Wes Leonard and the Blackhawks took the court against Bridgeman in a tight game. In overtime, Leonard scored the game-winning layup, and completed the team’s undefeated season. (Video: WOOD)
Immediately after the game, he collapsed on the court and bystanders rushed to help. He was soon rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest, and just a few hours later, pronounced dead. (The Holland Sentinel)
The first question every asked was -- how could this happen? The Detroit Free Press reported the medical examiner’s findings: the cardiac arrest brought on by dilated cardiomyopathy -- a condition that enlarges and weakens the heart. As everyone started to piece it together, WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids reports Leonard had been feeling slightly sick recently:
And Babble reports -- Fennville is no stranger to sport-related tragedy.
“The eerie thing about this case is that Leonard is the second Fennville athlete to die from a sport related instance in 14 months. Wrestler Nathaniel Hernandez, 14, died in January of 2010 after suffering a seizure at home following his participation in a high school wrestling match.”
On CNN, a doctor explains -- any heart-straining activity can trigger a problem.
“So rowing, cycling, football, running...”
Dr. KEN MILTON: “Thats correct, pretty much anything where you’re going to be engage in the heart, that puts strain on the heart. But unfortunately, most of these kids -- they don't present with symptoms until the time of death.”
A writer for Fox calls for more in-depth medical examinations for high school athletes -- things like an EKG, a heart ultrasound, and a check on the family’s cardiac disease history. He says, these check-ups are vital because...
“...there are hidden clinical conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), cardiac arrhythmias and valvular abnormalities that may be present, but completely asymptomatic in a young person – and these conditions could have catastrophic effects on a child doing any kind of strenuous physical activity.”
In remembrance, the Holland Sentinel highlights his many talents -- in basketball and football. He racked up 1,000 points on the court and took the field as quarterback, leading the team to the Southwestern Athletic Conference North Division championship.
“Leonard was a two-sport standout at Fennville and arguably the Blackhawks’ greatest athlete since Richie Jordan, a member of the National Federation of State High Schools Association’s Hall of Fame.”
Leonard will be buried Tuesday in Holland, Michigan -- the day after his team-mates are scheduled to play their first playoff game.
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