California University of Pennsylvania defensive lineman Jamain Stephens Jr. died from a blood clot in his heart after he contracted COVID-19.
Stephens, 20, died Sept. 9. His family revealed the cause of his death to CBS News in an interview Tuesday morning. His mother, Kelly Allen, told CBS that she was worried for football players and other athletes who were playing sports this fall in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I'm very, very nervous for these young men and women … These kids, their lives are priceless. And it's just not worth it. It's not worth it," she said.
Stephens’ high school initially announced that he had died of COVID-19 complications but later retracted that statement and said it hadn’t gotten official confirmation of the cause of his death.
The senior had three tackles in 11 games at Cal U of PA in 2019 and played in 32 games in his career at the school. The Division II school is a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the conference voted in July to suspend all fall sports in 2020.
Allen said that Stephens was the light of her life.
"Just an infectious personality, an infectious smile, and just a good guy to his core,” she told CBS.
Stephens’ father is Jamain Stephens, a former offensive lineman in the NFL. Jamain Stephens Sr. played five seasons in the NFL after he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 1996 NFL draft.
Many schools aren’t playing in the fall for heath and safety reasons
Most Division II and Division III schools are not playing football and other fall sports in 2020. Four conferences at the top level of college football postponed fall sports through the end of the year while many of the conferences that are playing delayed the starts of their seasons.
The Big Ten was one of the four conferences that postponed football and other sports through Jan. 1, though it could start football soon. The conference could announce a revised football schedule as soon as Tuesday following a vote by university leaders.
The Big Ten initially postponed its football and other fall sports seasons in August. At the time, the conference said “that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”
One of those risks has reportedly been myocarditis, which is the inflammation of the heart. According to an Ohio State study released last week, four of 26 players who tested positive for COVID-19 had signs consistent with myocarditis. The study’s authors, however, said that “while long-term follow-up and large studies including control populations are required to understand [cardiac magnetic resonance] changes in competitive athletes, CMR may provide an excellent risk-stratification assessment for myocarditis in athletes who have recovered from COVID-19 to guide safe competitive sports participation.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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