Wes Leonard, Michigan high-school star, dies after hitting game-winner
Updated at 3:10 p.m.
Shortly after hitting the winning shot that secured his team's perfect season in an overtime game, a high school basketball player in Fennville, Mich., collapsed on the court Thursday night and later died.
Wes Leonard, 16, collapsed moments after being hoisted into the air by jubilant teammates. He was given CPR before shocked teammates and a stunned crowd, then taken to a local hospital, according to the Holland (Mich.) Sentinel. "Wes arrived at Holland Hospital in cardiac arrest. All efforts were made after he arrived to help restart his heart, but unfortunately, those efforts were not successful."
According to Dr. David A Start, the forensic pathologist and medical examiner of Ottawa County in western Michigan, an autophy determined that the cause of death was cardiac arrest brought on by dilated cardiomyopathy. The disease, which enlarges and weakens heart muscles, often is undetected.
"It's tough to take in," his teammate, Shane Bale, said. "It's like somebody from your family, you know?"
Leonard is the second Fennville athlete to die in 14 months. Wrestler Nathaniel Hernandez died in January of 2010 after suffering a seizure at home following his participation in a high school wrestling match. He was 14.
A two-sport athlete, Leonrd had scored over 1,000 points in basketball and quarterbacked the football team to the Southwestern Athletic Conference North Division championship, passing for seven touchdowns in the victory that clinched the title.
In an interview earlier in the week, Fennville Coach Ryan Klingler told the Sentinel of Leonard's focus and drive to succeed. "That's what makes him a little different. He takes care of his body better than probably anybody I've ever coached," Klingler said. "Spends a lot of time on his own in the weight room. He's a special kid."
| March 4, 2011; 9:00 AM ET
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