Tragic news out of New Jersey, where a sophomore at Linden High School was injured during a football game earlier this month. Linden Mayor Derek Armstead, said to be a good friend of the family of Xavier McClain, announced on social media Thursday that the 16-year-old had died of what the New York Post said was an apparent traumatic brain injury. "With your prayers, Xavier fought a good fight," Armstead wrote on Instagram, adding he'd known the McClains since Xavier and his brother were little kids. "In the end, he succumbed to the injuries that he sustained a couple weeks ago."
A source tells NJ.com that Xavier was injured during the Tigers' Sept. 9 game against Woodbridge, when he took a hard hit while returning the second-half kickoff. "All of a sudden there was a child down," Armstead, who was at the game, tells News 12 New Jersey. "I had no idea who the child was at the time, but I knew it was quite serious." He says that Xavier's parents weren't at the game, and that his own wife was the one who had to contact them. Xavier remained in a coma for two weeks at Newark's University Hospital before he died.
Linden faculty and staff received official notice of Xavier's death Thursday morning in an email from Denise Cleary, Linden's acting superintendent of schools. WABC notes that Xavier was a sports-loving teen who was "known for his toughness on the field and his big heart off the field." NJ.com notes he was one of just a few sophomores who earned starting or regular playing time with the Tigers varsity team, and that he'd even played a few times as a freshman. "Everyone is sad, a lot of people were crying today," a friend tells WABC. (Read more football player stories.)