High School Athlete Dies at Basketball Game

Joshua Ellison collapsed after 5 minutes of play

By Jessica Greene
|  Monday, Feb 1, 2010  |  Updated 2:11 PM PDT
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High School Athlete Dies at Basketball Game

AP

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Students at Calvary Christian Academy in El Sobrante had Monday off but it didn't come as good news. It was a day of mourning.

Joshua Ellison, 17, co-captain of El Sobrante's Calvary Christian Academy high school basketball team, played the first five minutes of a game on Friday night at a 24-Hour Fitness gym then sat down on the bench, telling his teammates he felt dizzy.

When Ellison's coach, Kelvin Gibbs, went to check up on him, he found the boy unresponsive. Later, the star of the tight-knit school's team died at a hospital. Gibbs said the teen looked tired before the game but told him he was ready to play. Gibbs told KTVU that the boy looked healthy when he led team prayer before the game.

The story sounds all too familiar. A seemingly healthy teenager collapses on a court of playing field and dies.

In some similar-sounding cases, teens have been found to have suffered from heart disorders that led to death.

Although he hasn't looked at Ellison's medical chart, Stanford cardiologist Paul Wang suggests the teenager might have died as a result of a genetic heart problem, such as cardiomyopathy. Wang says the genetic abnormality can be detected by an electrocardiogram, a simple test most commonly known as an EKG. But, it's rarely given to high school students who are only required to fill out a medical history form and undergo a physical to play.

It's not known yet what caused Joshua Ellison's death. His body is undergoing an autopsy Monday.

As we await word on whether or not Ellison died as a result of an underlying condition, it brings up the question of whether high school athletes undergo enough basic tests before they go out on the field or court.

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