OAKLAND, Calif. - An Oakland Tech football player died suddenly just before the weekend – he went home feeling sick, got into bed and never woke up, his family told the high school.
There was no other information provided about how Jeremiah Joyner, 16, died on Thursday, according to co-principals Josue Diaz and Staci Ross-Morrisson. Friends called him "Bubba."
Varsity Coach Virdell Larkins Jr. told KTVU on Tuesday that it's not football season so the teen linebacker had not been at practice and that as far as he knew, Jeremiah had never suffered a concussion or head injury. Larkins added that Jeremiah, like all student athletes, turned in a medical form, clearing him to play sports. At school, he was in the Health Academy and he was remembered by his English teacher, Livia Perez, as an "old soul. Mature for his age, but definitely a kid."
The Alameda County Coroner has not yet determined the cause of death.
Jeremiah “just came in and worked hard. He never complained, he never did anything wrong. He was strong,” Larkins said.
Junior varsity coach K.C. O’Keith called Jeremiah a “quiet leader.” “He was putting his best foot forward," O'Keith said. "He was taking heed of all we have taught these kids over the past few years.”
O’Keith added that Jeremiah was small – 5 feet 6 inches and 140 pounds – but could beat much bigger players. In 10th grade, he played guard and beat a “huge lineman” from McClymonds High School “by going low,” O’Keith said.
Many of his friends wore black sweatshirts and Beats headphones to school - Bubba's signature accessories. Fraol Olyad said that Jeremiah had a "confidence about him. He was smart and humble and had probably the sweetest heart."
Counselors were on campus Monday helping Jeremiah’s friends deal with their grief. His family, according to the principals, was too distraught to speak publicly. The team signed a football to give to Jeremiah's family and the players plan to dedicate next season to him.
Correction: The school had said in a previous statement that the death occurred on Friday.