Share This Page

Aliquippa's Bronaugh dies after battle with leukemia

| Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, 8:00 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Aliquippa's DiMantae Bronaugh watches the WPIAL Class AAA championship game against Beaver Falls from the side line Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, at Heinz Field.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Derry presents Aliquippa a jersey in honor of DiMantae Bronaugh, who is battling leukemia, before the WPIAL Class AAA semifinal on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 at Fox Chapel High School.
Jeannette football players visit ailing Aliquippa football player DiMantae Bronaugh, who is battling leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant, at Children's Hospital.

Aliquippa running back DiMantae Bronaugh, whose battle with cancer twice cost him his senior season yet inspired others to be #24strong, died Tuesday.

His death was announced via a Facebook page his family had used to chronicle Bronaugh's fight with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“My heart is hurting beyond anyone can understand,” the post read in part. “My baby is no longer in pain. He is no longer suffering.”

Bronaugh, 19, had rushed for 1,262 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior in 2014, but his cancer surfaced just before his senior season.

The WPIAL granted him an extra year of eligibility, and he rallied this summer to rejoin the football team after he fought the cancer into remission. But his illness returned this summer.

Bronaugh gave a pre-game speech to his Quips teammates and was on the sideline Nov. 18 at Heinz Field for the WPIAL Class 3A final between Aliquippa and Beaver Falls. A year earlier, Beaver Falls presented Bronaugh an autographed banner and donation with funds collected by students and faculty.

“I'll remember him as such a competitor,” Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said. “This summer he worked so hard and refused to give up (on football) until he was re-diagnosed. It's a real testament of his courage.”

Aliquippa superintendent Dr. Peter Carbone released a statement, saying grief counseling will be available for students and staff members at Aliquippa Junior/Senior High School and Aliquippa Elementary School.

“He was a remarkable young man and a true asset to the school community,” the release stated. “Tragically, his life ended way too soon. The school district's thoughts and prayers are with his family in this time of sorrow and sadness. It is important that we all remain #24 STRONG for his family and our students.”

Schools from around Western Pennsylvania rallied around Bronaugh, holding fundraisers and setting up tents to register possible bone marrow donors at high school football games. Charlotte Heyward-Holifield, the mother of Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward, organized bone marrow registry drives in Aliquippa.

In a WPIAL playoff game against Derry, the Trojans presented Aliquippa's captains and coaches with a white Derry jersey with Bronaugh's No. 24 and surname across the shoulders and a football with “God Bless the Quips” written in permanent marker.

“This is the biggest game in the history of this school,” Derry coach Tim Sweeney said before the game, “but it pales in comparison to a young man's life.

“Both teams need to honor DiMantae with the way they play.”

Bronaugh's illness captured the attention of athletes from all over Western Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday night, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin posted on Twitter, “RIP DiMantae Bronaugh. You showed so much courage and heart and were an inspiration to many. My sympathies to family, friends & teammates.”

Pitt running back James Connor, who returned to the field this fall after a battle with cancer, posted on Twitter “RIP young DiMantae .. This is tough. #24Strong.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.