They all knew it was coming eventually, but that didn’t make it any easier.
On Tuesday, the entire Aliquippa community mourned the sudden loss of running back DiMantae Bronaugh. As chronicled by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the star rusher gained attention during his junior season in 2014 by rushing for more than 1,000 yards. He was geared up for a major senior season in 2015 before he was diagnosed with Leukemia just weeks before the start of the season, spent the entire year recovering instead, saw the cancer fall into remission and then, just before he was to finally return for the start of the 2016 season, he was told that the disease was no longer in remission.
Bronaugh made one final triumphant return to a football game when he visited his teammates in the locker room at Heinz Field before the Nov. 18 WPIAL championship game. He spoke to his teammates before the game, watched as much of the contest as he could before fatigue set in, and left an indelible mark on Aliquippa’s season, even if he never strapped on a helmet.
Less than two weeks later he was gone forever, leaving both the Aliquippa community and the school’s chief rivals saddened and driven to offer condolences and their own memories of a terrific high school athlete gone too soon.
“What’s interesting and amazing is the number of our opponents that already have called us or sent text messages to us,” Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac told the Post-Gazette. “I’m talking Clairton, Derry, Beaver Falls and others.
“But I’ve said from the beginning that this is not a football story. This is a human story about a young person losing his life way too soon.”