Family Reveals Jamain Stephens Jr.’s Cause of Death: Report

Jamain-Stephens-Bengals

Brian Bahr/Getty Images Samari Rolle #21 of the Tennessee Titans cradles the ball as he runs against Jon Kitna #3 and Jamain Stephens #75 of the Cincinnati Bengals.

On September 8 the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers first-round pick Jamain Stephens passed away at age 20. Initially, Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh—where Jamain Stephens Jr. went to high school—said the young man died “after suffering complications from COVID-19.”

The school later retracted that statement, removing mention of COVID-19 and amending its Facebook post to read, “We had obtained the information about his passing from close friends of Jamain, who reached out to us with the news…. At this time, we do not have official confirmation on his cause of death.”


Family: Jamain Tested Positive For COVID-19, Died of a Blood Clot

But according to CBS News, the “Stephens’ family [has since] said he died of a blood clot to the heart after testing positive for COVID-19.”

Abnormal blood clotting has been associated with severe COVID-19 cases, and according to Weill Cornell Medicine, “COVID-19 related clotting often does not respond well to standard prevention methods and, in some cases, to standard treatments, even with high doses of blood thinners.”

Asked if clotting is a significant cause of death in severe COVID-19 cases, Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, a professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine, said, according to Weill Cornell, “It’s hard to know for sure, because the clotting problem is apt to go undetected. Most often the cause of death in severe COVID-19 is respiratory failure, and that can be due to pneumonia, including a secondary bacterial or fungal pneumonia. But it may also be due to clotting.”


Jamain Stephens Jr. Played College Football at California University of Pennsylvania

Jamain Stephens [Jr.] was a college football player who played on the defensive line at Division II California University of Pennsylvania from 2017-19. He was entering his senior season, majoring in business administration.

In an interview with Nikki Battiste of CBS News, Stephens’ mother Kelly Allen said, “I’m very, very nervous for these young men and women,” referring to college students and the young men and women playing NCAA sports. “These kids, their lives are priceless. And it’s just not worth it. It’s not worth it,” she said.

Though Cal U suspended all fall sports in July, Kelly told CBS News that her son had “returned to school in part to work out with his teammates.”


Jamain Stephens Sr.: Pittsburgh’s First-Round Pick in 1996

Jamain Stephens Jr.’s father was the Steelers’ first-round draft pick in 1996, selected #29 overall out of North Carolina A&T. He played in eight games with one start in 1997 and then 11 games with ten starts in 1998.

He was released by the Steelers at the beginning of training camp in 1999, but went on to spend three more seasons in the NFL, all with the rival Cincinnati Bengals. Yet he appeared in just 21 games—making four starts—the rest of his career.

In am interview with CBS News, Jamain Stephens’ father said that sports bring a benefit, but said parents should be aware of the risk that COVID-19 can present to young people.

“Sports give us a release. You know, it gives us freedom from all of this drama…. We are not in a state of mind with it all to make the right decision,” Stephens said. “And as you know, we’re sitting here right now talking about the loss of my son because we took the risk.

“He was literally the light of my life,” said Allen. “Just an infectious personality, an infectious smile, and just a good guy to his core.”

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