GRANITE CITY, Ill. – Coaches say a freshman football player had yet to break a sweat when he collapsed and died during a workout in Granite City, Illinois, Wednesday.
Toney Malik Graham was only 13-years-old, but his family says he was 6’4,” weighed well over 300 pounds, and had personality was just as big.
Fredrica Graham, Toney’s mother, says he went by his middle name and would have turned 14-year-old this Sunday. Malik’s family says he was already catching the attention of football scouts and was planning to skip freshman football and tryout for the varsity team.
Coaches say Malik and the other players were warming up for a voluntary workout at the high school when Malik started grasping for air and collapsed. The superintendent says coaches called 911 and tried to revive him while paramedics were on the way, but Malik passed away about two hours later at the hospital.
“We loved him. He was our joy,” his mother said. “He was well loved by so many people. We’re going to miss him so much. We don’t know what we’re going to do without him.”
The exact cause of death has yet to be determined, but the coroner found “evidence of cardiac disease,” according to the autopsy.
Friends and family created a GoFundMe page to help Malik‘s mother pay for his funeral.
Funeral arrangements are pending.