Wes Leonard: "Quintessential all-American kid"

Members of the Fennville High School basketball team lift Wes Leonard, top, after he made a game-winning layup in overtime against Bridgman, in Fennville, Mich. , Thursday night, March 23, 2011. After making the shot, the Michigan high school star collapsed on the court and later died.
AP Photo/The Holland Sentinel

The 16-year-old star basketball player who collapsed and died on the court after hitting a game-winning shot is being remembered as a "quintessential all-American kid" who was loved and admired by teammates and coaches alike in western Michigan.

Wes Leonard of Fennville High died Thursday night, Holland Hospital spokeswoman Deb Patterson said. The cause of death was determined to be dilated cardiomyopathy - an enlarged heart.

Wes Leonard photos: Tragedy on the court

"This was a total shock," his family told CBS News. "He was 'like a man' and such an athletic boy, in seemingly perfect condition."

The community of Fennville is also in shock, according to CBS affiliate WWMT (see video below), and grief counselors have been brought in from across the county to help students get through the tragic turn of events.

"Wes Leonard was the quintessential all-American kid," said Fennville High School superintendent Dirk Weeldreyer. " (He was) that small-town boy, the quarterback, the basketball star who kids looked up to, who kids admired and who was a friend to all that he came across. He had a great grin and just an absolute joy to be around."

Teammates echoed the superintendent's words.

"He was a great athlete, a good friend to have, he was fun, just all around a great guy to have around," said an emotional teammate Demarcus Mcgee.

Moments before he collapsed, Leonard's teammates had given him a celebratory hoist into the air before a team huddle.

Leonard was one of most talented sports figures in Fennville in decades. He scored more than 1,000 points in his basketball career and he was a star quarterback. He led his team to the conference championship - throwing seven touchdowns in the clinching game, WWMT reports.

Leonard's final entry on his Facebook page was emblematic of his athletic reputation: "ready for bed and game tomorrow!!!!"

Now a memorial Facebook page has been set up for Leonard.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com


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