De’Antre Turman, 16, fractured a vertebrae in his upper spinal cord during a preseason scrimmage at Benjamin Banneker High School in south Fulton County Friday night, Betty Honey, an investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office, said.
Turman, a student at Creekside High School in Fairburn, was injured during what appeared to be a routine tackle, officials have said.
One of the teen’s coaches from an after-school college prep program told WXIA TV Turman appeared to go limp immediately after tackling the receiver from the opposing team.
“It was a fundamental tackle,” Glenn Ford told the television station, adding that the teen’s head was up at the time of impact and nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary about Turman’s technique.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Turman — nicknamed “Tre Tre” — had already been offered a scholarship to the University of Kentucky.
“His goal was to play pro football,” Turman’s former coach George Purvis told WXIA-TV.
“And he was one of the special ones that had a good chance to do it.”
A vigil was scheduled in the teen’s honor Sunday evening at a Fairburn recreation center, and his friends said they’d remember him as a dedicated student and a talented athlete.
“He lived by football, family, friends and God,” one of Turman’s friends, Jamari Benning, told the newspaper. “That’s all Tre Tre was thinking about. He always had a goal to always be great. He was never stingy, selfish; he was just a good person and a role model. He never had any doubt in God. He always kept his faith.”
Another friend of Turman’s said he couldn’t be upset with the circumstances surrounding the teen’s death because he died doing something he loved.
“God has a plan for us and the rest of the family,” Demarcus Morgan told the newspaper. “Maybe this is just what we need to bring us closer as a family.”