A Mississippi high school student collapsed on the football field during practice on Monday and died shortly after.
Phillip Laster Jr. was just a few weeks away from starting his senior year at Brandon High School, WLBT-TV in Jackson reported.
“I’m speechless that I’m not going to hear his footsteps coming through the door, or ‘Mom, what’re you cooking?’ in his deep voice. He was a lovely kid. I love my son,” Phillip’s mother, Ashanta, told the outlet.
Details about Phillip’s cause of death were forthcoming, but according to Rankin County Coroner David Ruth, he collapsed around 4:30 p.m. on Monday during a team workout, WAPT-TV reported.
Ruth said the young man died later at the hospital.
“He was just a good kid,” said Rickey Neaves, the Mississippi High School Activities Association executive director. “He just wanted to be a part of the team. He was just a good young man and a good teammate.”
Many high schools in the South have had to regulate summer football practices after several incidents of athletes collapsing in the heat.
Neaves said coaches are required to take precautions during summer practices like those at Brandon High.
“As far as water breaks, cold tubs are available. And heat, temperature is regulated, and no pads at this time of year,” he said.
Ruth said it could be a while before the state Medical Examiner’s Office determines the cause of Phillip’s death.
Meanwhile, the community and his family are mourning his loss.
“Phillip has been playing ball with some of those ballplayers since he was about 5 years old,” his father, Phillip Laster Sr., told WLBT. “This was a really exciting thing for him this year.”
Laster was driving when he got the news that his son had collapsed. But by the time he made it to the hospital, Phillip had died.
“I called the coach, and he told me it would probably be best for me to just come on in if I could because it was a serious situation,” he said. “On my way, I got the call that they lost him.”
The parents of 17-year-old Phillip Laster, Jr., who passed away during football practice at Brandon High School earlier this week, remember their son as a “gentle giant” who was beloved by many. https://t.co/kFFXC29quT pic.twitter.com/wCNeG8Fw5g
— WLBT 3 On Your Side (@WLBT) August 3, 2022
Rankin County School District Superintendent Scott Rimes released a statement about Phillip’s death on Monday.
“We are saddened and heartbroken by the sudden loss of Brandon High School student athlete Philip Laster,” it said, according to WAPT. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.
“In the days to come, RCSD will offer support to the family, Brandon High School team members, coaches, classmates, teachers and administrators as we all grieve the loss of Phillip.”
Phillip’s parents called him a “gentle giant” who was very loved by those around him.
“It’s just hard to find anybody that has anything bad to say about this guy,” his father said. “The outpouring of love is just a testament to what his life was like. He was a good kid.”
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