Tragedy struck yet another American prep football community on Thursday night, when highly touted University of Kansas recruit Andre Maloney collapsed on field from an apparent stroke and was transported to a local hospital by ambulance. A day later the news has grown even more dire, with doctors telling the family that Maloney is not expected to recover from a persistent vegetative state.
The news of Maloney's precarious health has been reported throughout the night and day by the Kansas City Star, which has also spoken to Maloney's family. According to a cousin who was raised with Maloney, the decision has been made not to resuscitate the Shawnee Mission West High (Shawnee Mission, Kan.) football star should he stop breathing.
"The doctors have told us he will not come out of it, so either he will remain like that, or what will happen is we'll make a decision to let him be free," Maloney's cousin, Karla Montoya told the Star. "He wouldn’t like that. He's been an athlete since the day he could walk. It would be unfair for us to hold onto him."
Montaya was at the Shawnee Mission West game against Leavenworth High (Leavenworth, Kan.) where Maloney collapsed on Thursday night. The 20-year-old University of Kansas student said that she could tell that her cousin was not himself when he walked back to the bench immediately after scoring a touchdown on a 63-yard reception. After celebrating in the end zone, Maloney stumbled when he reached the bench, then reached for a water bottle and collapsed.
Shawnee Mission West coach Tim Callaghan told the Star that as Maloney reached the ground, he "got dizzy and lost functioning." By the time Montoya had reached her cousin on the sideline, Maloney was already fading away.
According to the Star, doctors at the Midwest Neuroscience Institute found a blood clot on Maloney's brain, which was the cause of the stroke that the senior suffered on Thursday.
The drastic turn of events has left Maloney's friends and family shocked, with many filling the waiting room at Research Medical Center. An additional 200 Shawnee Mission West students held a vigil for the teen on the school's football field on Friday afternoon.
"There's a bond there that can’t be broken," Justin Fetzer, a basketball and football teammate of Maloney, told the Star. "He's a brother to me. Seeing someone who's usually so into everything suddenly out of it, it’s mind boggling."
The sudden stroke brought a stunning end to a promising young football career. Maloney committed to play football at the University of Kansas after a junior season in which the receiver and defensive back led Shawnee Mission West to the Class 6A state title. He was a Rivals.com top-10 recruit in the state of Kansas and also held scholarship offers from Kansas State and Oklahoma State, among others.
Now he's being remembered by those who knew him and others who had only seen him from afar. Kansas City Royals star Billy Butler tweeted out his prayers as did many others, popularizing the #PrayForDre and #pre4dre hashtag on Twitter. Even rival Shawnee Mission South High (Shawnee Mission, Ks.) announced that it was dedicating its Friday night game against Shawnee Mission East High (Shawnee Mission, Ks.) to Maloney, calling for students to wear black and gold in honor of Shawnee Mission West's school colors.
All of those efforts are a nice touch for a player and person who was revered by his teammates and friends. Sadly, it now appears that nothing short of a miracle will bring him back to be the teenager that he was.