A high school basketball player died Saturday night after collapsing while playing in an AAU event in Virginia, the Charlotte Observer reports. James Hampton, 19, was playing for Team United, a Charlotte, North Carolina, AAU program in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League when he collapsed. Hampton was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
His coach, Jacoby Davis, told the newspaper that Hampton was running down the court during a game at the Boo Williams Sports Complex in Hampton, Virginia, when he looked at a nearby official and said, “Hey ref,” before he collapsing. According to those in the arena, Hampton appeared to be unconscious and medical personnel rushed to help him, starting chest compressions before he was rushed to Sentara CarePlex Hospital, less than a mile from the arena, where he died. Davis told the Observer that Hampton has suffered from seizures in the past. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
“He just fell down on the floor,” Davis told the newspaper. “He had seizures a year ago and I remember (one of the Team United coaches) 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.”
Vashti Hurt, the editor of Carolina Blitz, a North Carolina sports site, wrote on Twitter, “Team United player passed out during the game. Staff and medic have been trying to resuscitate him for several mins. I watched and he seemed unresponsive. They’ve cleared all the courts while he is being transported to a hospital. Please keep him in prayer.”
Davis told the Observer, “It’s hard to even explain. 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.”
Hampton would have been entering his senior year at Liberty Heights Athletic Institute in Charlotte. He was a 2-star prospect in the class of 2019, according to recruiting sites, and had received a scholarship offer from Hampton University in April, according to a post on Twitter.
In July 2017, Hampton wrote on Twitter, “Family depending on me , can’t stop now ?. In couple years it’s won’t be Section8 living.”
Trey Mines, the head coach at H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, D.C., wrote on Twitter, “Did everything right. Got out the city. Just wanted to make something out of yourself and change your family situation. To die on the court this way. You literally gave your life for the game. Forever love you Jamo. This can’t be life..”
Hampton lived in D.C., where he played at Coolidge High School, before moving to Charlotte last year to play at Liberty Heights.
His former AAU team, the DC Owls, wrote on Twitter, “RIP Big Game James Hampton. You left us at just 19- the sharp knife of a short life felt so painfully tonight by someone who thought he did everything he could for you, but it wasn’t enough. I will never forget your laugh, your smile, your undeniable talent.”
NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, whose son plays for the Oakland Soldiers, another team participating at the event, was at the game and tweeted about witnessing Hampton collapse.
Davis told the Charlotte Observer the team wanted to play Sunday and they did so in Hampton’s honor. They were scheduled for two games Sunday.
“They really want to finish it up. The coaches are just torn up right now. So it’s going to be tough, but it’s what the kids want to do,” Davis told the newspaper.