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Prep Player with Seizure History Dies During AAU Game

Paul Steinbach

A high school basketball player with a history of seizures fell to the floor and died Saturday during a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League game in Virginia.

James Hampton, a top player out of Liberty Heights in Charlotte, N.C., was playing for North Carolina's Team United against California-based Nike Phamily when he reportedly turned to an official during the second half and said, "Hey ref." The 6-foot-5, 185-pound guard then collapsed. He was 17.

"He just fell down on the floor," Team United director Jacoby Davis told The News & Observer of Charlotte. "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."

Hampton's teammates held a vigil at a Sentara CarePlex Hospital, located less than a mile from the Boo Williams Sports Complex in Hampton, Va. It was the second game of the day for Team United, though Hampton didn't play in the first one. His parents did not attend the game but were informed of the tragedy by Davis. "It’s hard to even explain," Davis said. "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."

The team decided to play two games on Sunday — defeating All Ohio Red, 62-49, before losing to Howard Pulley of Minnesota, 82-77.

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