Game-Winning Tragedy: High School Basketball Star Collapses and Dies After Hitting Buzzer-Beater

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After a sinking a shot for a thrilling overtime win, 16-year-old Wes Leonard collapsed on the court and later passed away.

An undefeated Michigan team lost its star player Thursday night after he was instrumental in continuing their undefeated season. Fennville High School, in western Michigan, has had a slam-dunk season, due in no small part to Wes Leonard’s shooting prowess.

Thursday evening was no different, after Leonard hit the game-winning layup with 30 seconds left in overtime, putting his team up over Bridgman High School, 57-55. Teammates and fans stormed the court in celebration, when Leonard collapsed.

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Paramedics attempted CPR mid-court, but Leonard was later rushed to Holland Hospital where he died. The hospital has not yet released the cause of death.

Leonard surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his high school career earlier in the season and was also a football star at Fennville. But after his shocking death, Leonard was remembered not for his records, but for his personality instead. “He was very courteous. He was the nicest kid. You’d think with his star potential, because he’s so gifted, he’d be cocky, but he never really was that way,” Chris VanHuis, who coached Leonard’s middle school baseball team, told the AP.

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The tiny town, nestled on Lake Michigan 40 miles southwest of Grand Rapids, is sadly no stranger to tragedy. Fourteen-year-old wrestler Nathaniel Hernandez died in January 2010 after suffering a seizure following a high school wrestling match.