High School Basketball Player Collapses and Dies During Game

A Charlotte, North Carolina, high school basketball player collapsed and died Saturday night in Virginia during a game at a Nike youth basketball event.

James Hampton was playing for Team United in an event for the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League when he suddenly fell to the floor at the Boo Williams Sports Complex, The Charlotte Observer reports.

Hampton, a senior at Liberty Heights Athletic Institute, a private school in Charlotte, was running down the floor and looked at a nearby referee, Team United director Jacoby Davis said. Hampton reportedly said, "Hey, ref," and then collapsed.

He appeared unconscious as medical personnel ran to assist him on the court, where they administered chest compressions. Teammates and coaches, many in tears, reportedly gathered on their bench across the court. Hampton, who had suffered seizures in the past, was taken by ambulance from the arena.

"He just fell down on the floor," Davis told the Observer. "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 and family waited at Sentara CarePlex Hospital, less than a mile from the arena. Hampton's parents were not in Virginia for the game.

Hampton died at the hospital. His official cause of death is unclear.

"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."

Hampton had reportedly missed the team's first game early in the day Saturday but traveled by bus from Washington, D.C. to be there in time for the game against Nike Phamily Saturday night. Minutes into the second half of that game, he collapsed.

After a night filled with grief, Team United arrived at the SportsPlex Sunday morning to play their final two games as scheduled. The night before, Davis said his players wanted to play Sunday to honor Hampton.

"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 said Saturday.

Team United's players and coaches declined to comment to the Observer on Sunday, following a 62-51 morning win over All Ohio Red. Team United lost to Minnesota's Howard Pulley 82-77 on Sunday night.

"I give those kids a lot of credit because I didn't know if they were going to play," Carrawell said. "Not only did they play well, they performed and won. It says a lot about them and it says a lot about the kid. They played for that kid and they responded."

Saturday's game against Nike Phamily, a California-based team run by Marvin Bailey Jr., the father of former Duke All-American Marvin Bailey III, was suspended and not resumed. Nike Phamily forfeited its final two scheduled games Sunday and did not return to the Boo Williams SportsPlex.


Duke assistant basketball coach Chris Carrawell, whose son, Caleb Stone-Carrawell, was a teammate of Hampton's, said he was proud of the way the Team United handled the situation to honor Hampton's memory.

"That kid loved to play basketball," Carrawell said of Hampton. "He died on the court. You try to tell these kids every time you step on the basketball court, it might be your last. You always want to give it your all. Whether it be injury or the worst-case scenario — in that kid's case, death. He was a great teammate. It's a lesson to be learned. Give it your all on the court. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Now they gain an angel in heaven and he'll be looking down on his teammates forever. It's an unfortunate situation."