Pittsburgh youth football player who died felt ill before practice, mom says
The mother of a Carrick teen who died after collapsing at youth football practice Wednesday night said her son had wanted to skip the practice because he wasn’t feeling well.
“He really wanted to relax and stay home,” Laken Duckett-Coates, 28, said Thursday while surrounded by family and friends on the front porch of her home on Valera Avenue.
Duckett-Coates said coaches with the Westside Mustangs told her 13-year-old son Jordan C. Duckett, who is asthmatic, that he needed to be at the practice in Pittsburgh’s Windgap neighborhood because the team had a game Saturday.
She said she didn’t want him to go, but Jordan told her, “It’s OK mom, I’ll go.”
Coaches arranged transportation for her son and he left home around 5 p.m.
At 7:39 p.m., Duckett-Coates said she received a call from someone at the field asking if her son had a history of seizures.
“They said my son collapsed. He fell face down, shaking,” Duckett-Coates said she was told.
Duckett-Coates said she was told that her son had been involved in the practice, even though she said she had been told that he’d only be watching from the sidelines.
Jordan was pronounced dead at 8:57 p.m. at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office. The medical examiner will release the cause and manner of Jordan’s death, police said.
“Jordan was a good kid,” his mother said.
Almost $5,000 has been raised so far in a Facebook fundraiser put together by Duckett-Coates, donated by over 160 people throughout the day Thursday. The goal is to reach $15,000.
On the page, Duckett-Coates wrote, “Jordan died at football practice unexpectedly. Please help me bury my child. Thank you.”
He had been a good student at South Hills Middle School and stayed out of trouble, Duckett-Coates said, describing her son as a peacemaker who was giving, respectful and obedient.
He had played basketball in the past, but this was his first season playing football, his mother said. She said his asthma was controlled with medication.
Team and league officials didn’t respond to requests for comment, but the team said on social media that it would hold an emergency meeting Thursday evening.
Board members, coaches, parents, players and cheerleaders were asked to attend, and Duckett-Coates said she planned to be there. The team arranged for grief counselors to be on hand to provide support.
“The Mustangs Family will come together and wrap our arms around this family who have suffered a significant loss,” the team said in a Facebook post. “We will work toward continuous support for the family and all parties involved.”
All Western Pennsylvania Youth Athletic Association practices and games are canceled this week because of the incident, according to a statement posted on the association’s Facebook page. The association includes 17 teams in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities.
“WPYAA sends the deepest and sincere condolences to the family of the young man who passed today,” the post said. “To the West Side organization, whatever you need we are here.”
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .