Doctors Baffled When Healthy 16-Year-Old Football Player Collapses, Suffers Stroke and Blood Clot in Brain


A 16-year-old football player was found unconscious on Nov. 11 the day after a game his team lost by 33 points and in which he’d take a hit or two on the field.

Tylin McDowell wasn’t very happy about the loss, his father Tim told WBTV in Charlotte. But he wasn’t showing any other signs or symptoms of trouble, so the next day he spent some time at his girlfriend’s home.

He was found unconscious there and rushed to the hospital.

Dehydration was the first suspect after a long and difficult game, but doctors soon found another culprit.

The medical staff at Atrium Health Northeast in Cabarrus County found that the blood flow to Tylin’s brain had been blocked.

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The 16-year-old football player was having a stroke.

“They told us they found a blood clot on his brain,” Tim told the Hickory Independent Tribune. “The blood clot comes from a carotiv, a section in the neck. Google says, basically, the artery split in two through trauma.”

Doctors removed the clot in emergency surgery. Tylin was flown to Levine Children’s Hospital, where he has been recovering since and was expected to be released today.

“The first night, he was completely paralyzed on the right side,” mother Crystal Rodgers-Butt said. “He was unconscious still, but you could see his mouth was pulling on the right side. You could see he had a stroke in his face, and he couldn’t keep his eyes open. It was just terrible.”

“He’s in a much better place now,” she said a few days later. “And I think, in his head, he sees the plan ahead: Get through these couple days and then rehab, and then he can sort of get a semblance of normal.’ He’s sad about it, but he’s in a much better spot.”

Rodgers-Butt also said that her son’s stroke led her to back to her faith in Christ, something she’s struggled with over the past few years.

“I will tell you the truth of this: I have struggled for the past couple years in my faith,” she said. “ I have struggled being a Christian, and I have struggled with the world in general. But I’ll be honest: I saw the power of prayer. I saw it. I felt it.

“It’s indescribable. It’s brought me back to God. It’s brought me closer to God than I’ve been in years. It just made me feel the power of prayer. I can deny God and Christianity all day, but it all went back to my faith. I know it sounds so cliché to say that ‘During the darkest times, you find God,’ right? But it really is a miracle what’s happened with Tylin.”

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Doctors don’t know for sure, and probably never can, what caused the stroke, though some sort of trauma seems to be the most likely suspect.

“It’s not confirmed, but we believe it came from a hit he took Friday night in the football game during a play just before halftime where his helmet was knocked off,” Tim said. “Upon further review, coaches said they didn’t see a blunt hit. You see where he was face-masked partially, but it still caused Tylin’s neck to jerk to the side.”

“The first thing you think of is ,‘Oh, he must be dehydrated from the game the night before,’” Tim said. “To be so young having a stroke, it’s scary.”

COVID-19 has been associated with an increased risk of blood clots. Tylin McDowell’s COVID and vaccination history were not reported.

Stroke risk has been increasing in America’s younger population, WAVE reported earlier this year, as young people increasingly develop the same risk factors that used to be associated with older generations.

“[A] sedentary lifestyle, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and sleep apnea” all contribute to a higher risk of stroke, WAVE reported.

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics