A 17-year-old high school senior was placed on life support this weekend after he was hit during a football game and subsequently diagnosed with a brain condition, according to local outlet WFTS.
Jacquez Welch of St. Petersburg Northeast High School in Florida collapsed after a tackle during the game last Friday night.
“It was a group tackle. Everybody got up. He got up a little slow and he didn’t get back up,” Welch’s mother, Marcia Nelson, told the outlet.
Welch was taken to Bayfront Hospital, where doctors discovered he had a pre-existing condition that was previously unknown to the family. The rare disease, an arteriovenous malformation, causes blood vessels in the brain to form abnormally, leaving them vulnerable to tears that can cause bleeding in the brain or spine, according to Mayo Clinic.
“There’s nothing anyone could have done to prevent this. The doctors told me this would have happened whether he was on the field playing or not,” Nelson told WFTS.
“It was something he couldn’t control, nobody could control, so it’s keeping me calm and understanding … what happened,” she added to Bay News 9. “Tragedy happened, but it was a cause that I couldn’t control, so maybe that’s more why I’m a little calmer.”
On Sunday, Welch’s teammates signed his jersey, which was framed and then carried onto the field before one of their games. As of Sunday, Welch was still in the ICU and surrounded by friends and family.
“I was a lucky man, not an unlucky man, because I got to be with Jacquez,” Northeast High Coach Jeremy Frioud said, according to Bay News. “I got to impact Jacquez and Jacquez got to impact me. So that’s how the football team and how we’re looking at it.”
According to WFTS, Welch held a 4.0 GPA and recently received a scholarship to attend college.
“I’m just so proud of him. I just made sure I told him that every time I’d see him. I love you. I’m just so proud of you. He was the perfect son,” his father, Tory Larkins, told Bay News.
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A GoFundMe for Welch’s family has been set up.
Welch’s hospitalization comes the same week as another high school football player, Deshaud Williams of Texas, was hospitalized after experiencing shortness of breath while running with his brother. He later died and a cause of death has not been determined, according to Today.