INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — Those who knew Kamaree Lyons, the 17-year-old who suddenly collapsed after walking off the basketball court Saturday night at Sebastian River High School, remembered him as a kind-hearted boy with a bright future and an infectious smile.
“God always takes the special ones,” said Freddie Woolfork, Kamaree’s older cousin. “He was just a great young man. Mannerable, low-keyed, confident, poised, good in the classroom. … He was a basketball player and a football player. Looked like a picture of health.”
An autopsy will be conducted this week to determine the boy’s cause of death. The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
Saturday night from 6 to 9, students were encouraged to come out for the school’s first open gym weekend event, according to Cristen Maddux, spokeswoman for the School District of Indian River County.
Three coaches and between 25 and 30 students were playing pickup basketball when Lyons “walked off the court and collapsed,” Maddux said.
A 911 call came in about 6:45 p.m. that a 17-year-old was having a seizure, records show. Lyons was taken by ambulance to Sebastian River Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Woolfork said the Sunday morning service at St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist Church in Gifford was emotional, as the community is devastated and traumatized by the sudden loss.
“He was well loved. There were tears of sadness, but not tears of hopelessness. They know he’s in a better place,” he said.
A memorial in front of the high school popped up Monday for students and staff to share flowers and other tributes, Maddux said.
A candlelight vigil at the high school’s stadium is scheduled to begin about 8:15 p.m. Thursday, after a 6 p.m. JV football game versus Vero Beach High School. The vigil will end at 9 p.m.
Lyons, who wore No. 43, was in the midst of his first varsity football season. He played fullback and on special teams.
A team of psychologists and counselors met with students and staff at Sebastian River High School when class resumed Monday. They will remain available as many days as necessary.
Kamaree is the second Sebastian River High football player to pass away in the past four years. In August 2014, William Shogran Jr., 14, died from heat stroke during a team practice.
Counseling will also be available at Gifford Youth Achievement Center, where Kamaree has been a regular since he was in elementary school.
Carrie Williams, a guidance counselor, said she intended to go over the stages of grief when the children arrived at the center Monday afternoon, and encourage them to share their emotions, whether in public or private.
“It’s important they are allowed that time to express themselves,” Williams said. “He really was the sweetest kid.”
Kamaree’s family has suffered immense loss in recent years.
His mother passed away unexpectedly in 2015, so his sister, Ebony Hart, helped raise him. Hart was honored in 2017 with an Outstanding Family Support Award by the Gifford Youth Achievement Center.
Kamaree’s uncle was Garry Chambliss, the Indian River County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed in February 2017.
“They’re a strong Christian family. They’ll bounce back,” Woolfork said. “Just hate to see Kamaree go so young.”
Woolfork said Kamaree would pop in his office at the Gifford Youth Achievement Center every time he was there to say, “Hey cuz,” or “Hey Mr. Woolfork” and give him a high-five.
“Kamaree was a lovable, big teddy bear,” said Annette Reason, who also works at the center. “So mannerable, so respectful. He was always willing to help you.”
Angelia Perry, the center’s executive director, said Kamaree was well-liked and his dreams were just beginning to take shape.
“It wasn’t if he would be successful,” Perry said. “It was how bright his star would shine.”